Exclusive: Top Fox News Executive Fired After Woman Alleges Sexual Harassment and Stalking


AP Photo/Richard Drew

John Finley, a top Fox News executive who was fired last week after more than 20 years at the network, was ousted after a woman alleged he sexually harassed and stalked her, Mediaite has learned.

Sources said the woman was not an employee of Fox but worked on projects with Fox Nation, the streaming service which was previously overseen by Finley, before bringing her claims formally to Fox. The network hired a prestigious outside law firm to investigate, and ultimately reached an undisclosed settlement with the woman. Mediaite knows her identity but is not disclosing it.

A source familiar with the woman’s claims alleged that Finley “stalked her relentlessly and would not stop texting her.” The woman “kept rebuffing him,” the source said, but he pursued “a relentless pattern of sexual harassment and quid pro quo. I can get you this job if you — incredible opportunities. If she went into New York and didn’t see him? Temper tantrums.”

Another source with knowledge of the findings of the investigation said he was not fired for sexual harassment, but for violating Fox’s standards of business conduct. Among the standards that were breached included conflict of interest, improper use of his position to benefit someone over whom he had influence and business ethics, the source said.

“Fox News Media and John Finley have parted ways after an independent investigation concluded that he had violated certain standards of business conduct,” Fox News said in a statement.

Multiple sources who worked with Finley claimed the veteran executive pursued romantic relationships with subordinates throughout his time at the network. These relationships included one with a Fox staffer who he married and then divorced.

One former Fox employee said Finley often made promises of “big show promotions” to young female staffers, telling them he would make them a “Fox News star” despite “little to no power to actually do so.”

Erin Kormann, a lawyer for Finley, told Mediaite: “Mr. Finley wants us to convey that he vigorously denies all of the allegations that were contained in the text that you sent, and this is an attempt to defame Mr. Finley and that he intends to pursue all of his legal remedies at this time.”

Two sources who worked with Finley said there was a tell-tale sign around Fox News of who he was romantically pursuing: pearl earrings, usually from Tiffany’s.

“I noticed that there’s a tendency that all the women tend to get giant pearl earrings from him,” the source said. “It was our big code like, Oh, she must be getting those same pearl earrings from John. She got promoted with no experience. She’s blonde. Looks like she came out of a sorority.”

“He buys all the girls the same gifts,” the source added. “It was like he was having a fuck-off.”

A source familiar with the allegations that led to his firing last Friday said Finley also took that woman to dinners and bought her gifts.

Finley joined Fox News at its inception, and throughout the years served in several high-profile positions, including executive producer for Sean Hannity. In 2019 he was tapped by Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott to launch Fox Nation, the network’s ambitious streaming service. In 2020, Jason Klarman was named president of Fox Nation, but Finley continued to work on development for the service.

A number of sources who spoke with Mediaite said he survived for so long in part thanks to the relaxed attitude towards misconduct pervasive during the Roger Ailes era of Fox.

The Washington Post, which first reported on Finley’s ouster last weekend but did not report the claims against him, noted that Finley was investigated for misconduct in 2011 but cleared of any wrongdoing at the time. The network, which conducted the probe internally, cited a lack of evidence.

“Our HR department was a complete joke back then,” a high-level Fox insider told Mediaite. Another longtime staffer concurred, calling the investigation a “joke.”

Ultimately, the latest allegation against Finley proved too serious to keep him at the network.

“The guy had nine lives at Fox,” the network insider said. “This was 15.”

Disclosure: Diana Falzone worked at Fox News from 2012 to 2018. In 2017, she filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the network and settled.

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