Source: Fox News Media

On Tuesday, former Fox News journalist Jennifer Eckhart penned her second ‘open letter’, entitled “A Chance for Change: My Open Letter to Fox News’ New General Counsel”, but this time to her former employer’s newly appointed general counsel, Bernard T. Gugar. Gugar will also serve as Fox News’ Executive Vice President of Corporate Development, succeeding Lily Fu Claffee, who has previously served as the organization’s general counsel for the past three years. 

Gugar, a former Google executive, previously serving as Google’s U.S. Head of Industries for Google Cloud’s Deal Pursuit Organization, also served as the senior vice president and general counsel of Oprah Winfrey’s media company Harpo, Inc. for eight years, according to Fox News’ April 12 announcement.

“I am excited to join one of the most influential news operations in the world and look forward to utilizing my experience spanning media, law and technology to help Fox News Media grow, evolve, and develop a diversified digital footprint,” Gugar said in his April 12 statement.

Perhaps Gugar comes at a most opportune moment for some, like Eckhart, who has been in ongoing litigation against Fox News since July 2020, for allegations of sexual misconduct by former Fox News anchor and Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry. Back in October 2020, True Hollywood Talk spoke with Roxie Marroquin, a 30-year-old woman, who came forward on the record, revealing that she too, was a victim of Henry’s.

In addition to Eckhart’s lawsuit, the organization is currently undergoing a series of defamation lawsuits, by electronic voting companies, Smartmatic ($2.7 billion) and Dominion Voting Systems ($1.6 billion), following backlash from the 2020 U.S. Presidential election for claims of distributing “disinformation” concerning the election, in favor of former president Donald Trump.

Turning to Eckart’s recently penned letter, the former Fox News employee explained how “[she] witnessed firsthand how the Company had fostered an environment where powerful men such as Roger Ailes and others were allowed to prey on young women and abuse their positions of authority to the detriment of female employees.”

She continues:

…”Despite all of this, when Mr. Ailes was ousted, I and other women at Fox News were cautiously optimistic that the culture at Fox News and the “tone at the top” would change such that women would no longer have to walk the halls of the Company in fear of being sexually harassed, or even assaulted, by Fox News’ powerful male employees. I believed Fox News when it made public proclamations about how such behavior was unacceptable and would not be tolerated. I was even invited to attend a “Women at Fox News” event hosted by Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner who, at the time, claimed it was “a new era” at Fox after Ailes’ departure. Unfortunately, I was naïve to believe such empty promises.”

As the letter continues, Eckhart confesses the painful process of what she has continued to go through in her attempts at being heard by her former employer, to no avail and public humiliation. 

“Without getting into the details, rather than Fox News directly notifying me of my rapist’s termination, I was forced to learn about it via Twitter, the media and my former colleagues and had to see my rapist’s face splashed all over the news. If you have ever researched the types of trauma that survivors of rape experience, you would surely understand that Fox News’ thoughtless conduct in this regard, by not even notifying me that this was about to occur, was an incredibly traumatic experience. Due to Fox News’ mishandling of this matter, and in healing in the aftermath of getting raped, I have been in therapy with a trauma specialist at a Crime Victims Treatment Center and diagnosed with PTSD. I am not the person who I was before all of this happened to me, and I struggle to see how I will ever be that person again.”

Towards the end of Ms. Eckhart’s letter, she respectfully pleas to Gugar’s new position of authority, explaining:

“As Fox News’ new General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Corporate Development, you have a unique opportunity to finally put in place the changes that Fox News promised when it ousted Mr. Ailes, Mr. O’Reilly and others. You can show the world that Fox News is an organization that is committed to providing more than just lip service to issues of diversity in the workplace. An organization where women and people of color can speak up when they are mistreated, without fear of reprisal. An organization that takes responsibility for the conduct of its biggest and highest- earning stars.”

Hours after Eckhart’s open letter was penned to Medium, her attorneys, Douglas Wigdor and Michael Willemin, gave a statement in a media distribution email chain:

“We are hopeful that Mr. Gugar appreciates the sincerity of Ms. Eckhart’s letter and the trauma that she has suffered,” said Willemin, Partner at Wigdor LLP.  “Mr. Gugar is in a power position from which he can drive real change at Fox News, and we hope he takes the opportunity to do so. We look forward to his prompt response.”

Both Wigdor and Willemin have previously represented many former Fox News employees who have accused the network of sexual misconduct.