- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Oh come on now — these allegations against Fox News are getting way too fast and furious for fan comfort.

On the heels of widely reported sexual harassment allegations at the cable network, now comes this: “Ex-Fox News contributor says she was raped by host, sues network,” a Daily News headline blared. To be completely accurate, Hughes was never a contributor, but rather a frequent guest.

Regardless, blared is right.

The suit, from Scottie Nell Hughes, was fired in federal court in Manhattan on Monday. In it, Fox Business Network anchor Charles Payne is named as the defendant.

Bluntly, Hughes accuses Payne of rape.

And she also accuses the entire network of “victim-shaming” by leaking to the media — when she first complained of sexual harassment from Payne, back in July — that the two had actually engaged in a consensual sexual relationship.

Here’s how the Daily News writes it: “According to court papers, Hughes, 37, met Payne … in 2013 and was invited to appear on his show numerous times. In July 2013, while in New York for a Fox program, Payne ‘pressured his way into Ms. Hughes’s hotel room for a “private discussion.” ‘ It was then that Payne raped her, the lawsuit alleged.”

Hughes said in court filings she was “shocked and ashamed,” and that’s why she didn’t initially report the incident.

Hughes went on to appear in several more Fox shows — both Payne’s and others. But Hughes said she was “coerced into a sexual relationship with Payne in exchange for career opportunities and benefits,” according to the court documents cited by the Daily News.

The two were reportedly involved in a relationship between 2013 and 2016, the court documents stated.

The suit also says Hughes said Payne made it clear her television appearances would disappear if she broke off their relationship — something she alleged did indeed occur in 2016.

“[Payne] became enraged and physically violent,” when Hughes tried to end the relationship, the suit said, the news outlet reported.

There are more details — and no doubt, all the sordid specifics will be made public in the coming days and weeks. Payne, it should be noted, denied Hughes allegations of sexual harassment when they first surfaced in July and after a period of suspension, recently returned to his Fox position.

But really, on the heels of several sexual harassment accusations that have tainted Fox in recent months — hitting at top Fox dogs and resulting, in some cases, payoffs and settlements to victims — it’s seriously time for the network to self-reflect.

It’s getting to the point where even diehard Fox fans have to wonder if all this accusing that’s been going on is truly a leftist partisan hit job to take down the network’s true conservatives — or if the truth is much, much darker.

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