Editor’s Note: This segment discusses sexual assault and sexual harrassment, and contains audio that some listeners may find disturbing or offensive.
Tamara Holder was a Fox News contributor in 2015 when she won a multimillion-dollar sexual harassment settlement with 21st Century Fox, which owns Fox News. Though the deal included a nondisclosure agreement, she says recent comments by Fox owner Rupert Murdoch nullify that contract, allowing her to break her silence about the case and the consequences for her life and career.
Here & Now‘s Robin Young speaks with Holder (@TamaraHolder).
On her reaction to Murdoch’s comments
“Honestly, I was speechless. My mind just, it was like an electric shock had gone through my brain. The audacity of this man to say something like this. He and his company ruined lives. Ruined them. There have been days for the past 2 1/2 years that I haven’t wanted to go on anymore, and that’s because of him and his company and what the people within it did to me.”
On the conditions and consequences of the settlement
“I had been with Fox for seven years, and they paid me well. So — I just want to point out the settlement amount. I’ve heard from people, ‘Well yeah, you got $2.5 million.’ OK well I just ask everybody, take away paying your attorney one-third of that. Take away giving the government half of that. So the idea that because I was paid any amount of money, and now I’m whole, is preposterous, because now I’m left without a job and without any income.
“My agreement first of all was not, ‘you were harmed, therefore we’re going to pay you.’ It is, ‘you were harmed, therefore we’re going to pay you, and you can’t ever talk about us or the incident again.’ That’s not what I wanted money for. In fact, I didn’t want money. There were times that I, during this whole experience, that I just wanted to sue Fox for one penny. … The lawyers wouldn’t take my case.
“I said, No. 1, I only wanted to sue Fox out of principle for one cent, and No. 2, I didn’t even want to name the man who did this to me in the lawsuit because it wasn’t about him. What lawyer’s going to take a case for one penny? And they thought, you know maybe, I was lying.”
On the nature of the incident
“I had something criminal happen to me. I had a man pull out his penis in his office and shove my head on it. I went into his office to talk about opportunities to work. This was my first time in his office. I had no history with him. We met in the cafeteria and had coffee and discussed opportunities. I started to write for Fox News Latino about sports. So it is important for people to understand — and sexual harassment is a serious thing, and I feel bad for people who are also just harassed at work. But for me it was something criminal. I begged my attorney to allow me to go to the police, and she said, ‘After we get the money, you can go,’ because she wanted to take her money and run. So my adviser told me not to go. And No. 2, my background is in criminal defense and pardons. I know this man has family and has children, and as criminal and as awful as this was I thought, ‘I can do this on my own. I’ll be OK. I’m going to do all of the work to rehabilitate myself. And I don’t want this guy to go to prison.’ ”
On what she would like to see happen
“I’m not complaining about even what happened to me, sexual harassment. Women are always OK. What we fought for was a right to vote and a right to work. And all we want to do is work. You can spend your time flirting with us and making stupid jokes and even grabbing us. Obviously it’s wrong. I’m not condoning that. But my point is that we have put up with this since the beginning of time, and we show up, and all I wanted to do was go to work. Salma Hayek, her article in The New York Times, her op-ed about Harvey Weinstein, isn’t about what he did to her. It’s that he affected her ability to make a movie. I showed up to work that day because I wanted to work. I walked into his office because I wanted to work. And I went back to my desk after he did this to me because I wanted to work.
“As we’re firing Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and Matt Lauer and Russell Simmons — these are men that we are putting on the front page, and we’re talking about their names. The women behind these men are sitting at home today. And the emails that I have received are just stunning and heartbreaking. Hospitals, railroads, corporate America, union jobs, teachers, other women in TV, other women in radio — we don’t care about bringing men down. We care about keeping our jobs.”