Fox Sports boss Jamie Horowitz is out amid sexual harassment inquiry


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FOX Sports President of National Networks Jamie Horowitz will be leaving the network effective immediately.
Time_Sports

Jamie Horowitz’s reign as the head of Fox Sports’ cable networks ended abruptly Monday amid another 21st Century Fox sexual harassment investigation.

Fox Sports President and CEO Eric Shanks announced in a memo to employees obtained by USA TODAY Sports and other outlets that Horowitz was “leaving FOX Sports effective immediately.” Fox Sports declined to release the details behind what led to Horowitz’s firing, although his lawyer, Patty Glaser, told USA TODAY Sports that Horowitz’s departure was “probably” related to a sexual harassment investigation.   

Fox hired a law firm to investigate Horowitz’s conduct and several women, including on-air talent, had been interviewed, The Los Angeles Times reported. On Friday, Horowitz was asked to report to work at 8 a.m. PT on Monday when he was terminated, Glaser said. 

“The way Jamie has been treated by Fox is appalling,” said Glaser, reading from a statement. “At no point in his tenure was there any mention by his superiors or human resources of any misconduct or the inability to adhere to professional standards. Jamie was hired by Fox to do a job, a job until today he had performed in an exemplary fashion. Any slanderous accusations to the contrary will be vigorously defended.”

A woman who worked as a production staffer at Fox Sports told Sports Illustrated that she had met with human resource officials last week where she recounted how Horowitz had attempted to kiss her away from the studio last year. 

“I have been working in sports for a long time, and no one has ever been that bold with me,” said the woman, who requested her name not be used. “I saw him at Fox one day, and he said he wanted to catch up. He said we could meet up to talk. The hook was that he could get me more work.

“Fox HR called me last week. They asked about what had happened. I gave some details and then called back and gave more details. To Fox’s credit they handed it quickly and really pro-active. They went out of their way to contact me.”

In a memo to Fox employees, Shanks wrote about the decision. “We realize this news may come as a surprise for many of you, but we are confident in this decision,” Shanks wrote. “Everyone at Fox Sports, no matter what role we play, or what business, function or show we contribute to — should act with respect and adhere to professional conduct at all times. These values are non-negotiable.”

Fox Sports confirmed Horowitz’s departure in a statement, adding the network had “no further comment at this time.”

Shanks said he’d run FS1 and FS2 — two networks that Horowitz had been in charge of since April 2015 — along with Fox Sports’ digital operations until a replacement is hired.

“We understand how difficult this will be for many of you, but in these times it is important that we remain unwavering and focused in continuing the great work of FOX Sports,” Shanks wrote.

Horowitz joins Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes among big names at Fox who were terminated amid claims of sexual harassment. 

Attorney Gloria Allred — whose practice specializes in sexual harassment and daughter, Lisa Bloom, represents three of O’Reilly’s accusers — questioned in an email to USA TODAY Sports what Fox is doing to truly address workplace harassment.

“Given all that has happened at Fox in the recent past, it is not surprising that another Fox executive bites the dust after being accused of sexual harassment,”  Allred said. “Fox needs to figure this out and fast. Why have so many senior executives been accused of sexual harassment? What is Fox doing to make sure that this does not continue?”

O’Reilly, a staple at Fox News for 21 years and host of the top-rated The O’Reilly Factor, was jettisoned in April after numerous women stepped forward with claims of sexual harassment. The New York Times reported that O’Reilly and Fox had made payouts that totaled about $13 million in settlements.

Ailes, the late founder and longtime CEO of Fox News, resigned last July amid a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News anchor. The lawsuit led to an internal investigation as other women came forward with similar accounts. 

Both O’Reilly and Ailes, who died last month at age 77, denied any wrongdoing. 

Horowitz worked at ESPN for more than eight years, starting as a senior producer in 2006 before rising up the ranks. He was ESPN’s vice president of original programming and production from February 2012 to August 2014, where he oversaw Olbermann, First TakeNumbers Never Lie and SportsNation, according to his since-deleted Fox Sports bio page

He left for NBC News in late 2014 where he served as senior VP/GM of Today, a position he held for only about 10 weeks. Then-NBC News President Deborah Turness called Horwitz  “a talented producer and executive,” although she came “to the conclusion that this is not the right fit.”

His arrival at Fox Sports in May 2015 signaled a new wave of his “embrace debate” concept he championed at ESPN. Loud, opinion-heavy shows were seen as the savior for FS1, which had struggled in the ratings compared to ESPN. 

Horowitz lured ESPN talent — most notably Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless — who fit his vision. But Horowitz drew a rebuke from journalism circles after he led a massive restructuring of Fox Sports Digital, which he was given control of over the last year.

Dozens of writers, editors and producers that contributed to foxsports.com were laid off last month as Horowitz pushed the website to mirror the content on FS1. 

Horowitz’s handling of Fox Sports Digital was detailed in a recent Awful Announcing story. A person at the network who is not authorized to speak publicly on personnel matters told USA TODAY Sports that Horowitz’s management of Fox Sports Digital didn’t play a role in his departure. 

News of Horowitz’s exit was applauded by many of the Fox Sports Digital staffers who exited the company over the last several weeks, including former USA TODAY Sports exec Mark Pesavento. Pesavento, who was a senior VP at Fox Sports Digital, announced his resignation in May. 



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