Three years ago, John Huddy was reporting from Gaza for Fox News, bullets zipping past his helmet during the broadcast.
What a difference time and revelations make: on Monday, at around 4:22pm in Jerusalem, Huddy was fired without notice or severance by Fox News. There was no cause, but Fox News’s PR department planted the story that Huddy had been involved in some kind of “altercation” with another employee.
Huddy, recently married and expecting a baby, was flabbergasted. But at the same time in New York– 9:22am– his sister Juliet Huddy had just finished telling another Fox News employee, Megyn Kelly, live on the Today show– about her work experience at Fox News. Huddy had received a $1.5 million settlement from Fox News this past summer for sexual harassment.
I’ve never met John Huddy, but I know his sister. She arrived at Fox News a little before I did, in 1998-99. She was there for years, a great reporter, a beautiful woman, with a really terrific personality. I thought she’d go far. But after a while her star dimmed, she was moved off to the local channel, Fox 5, and slowly vanished.
Here’s something I never knew: her brother John, stranded now in Israel, was the actual godson of Roger Ailes. John Huddy Sr. had been a close associate of Ailes for years.
John Huddy Jr. had been at Fox 5 also, prior to 2014. Then he was promoted to the network as a foreign correspondent, and sent to the middle east. “I never told anyone that Roger was my godfather,” John told me yesterday. “It wasn’t that kind of relationship. I saw him, maybe once a year.”
He landed in Israel in June 2014 “in the midst of war. There were constant air strikes.” You can see him on YouTube dodging bullets. This is not a business for the faint of heart. Huddy was a star and never had any issues with fellow workers, he said, until it was revealed in January 2017 that his sister was one of Bill O’Reilly’s victims and had settled with him for $1.5 million. This was months before O’Reilly was ousted from his job.
“People asked why didn’t I leave, but I had a contract and I was doing a good job. And they were two separate things.”
But Huddy’s contract ended in April. He kept working and being paid. But his protections were probably not in place. When he returned from covering the protests in Catalonia, he got a call that a complaint had been lodged internally against him from a photographer he travels with, saying he and Huddy had been in a “physical altercation.”
“It never happened,” Huddy tells me. There had been an incident, though: Huddy says when his sister’s settlement had been revealed, his traveling producer and that photographer referred to the women at Fox News who’d complained about sexual harassment “whores and liars.” When Huddy reported this to his own boss, he says, the environment at work went from friendly to “nasty.” But he is adamant that there was no altercation. “I never touched him,” he says of the photographer. “It’s just retaliation.”
Well, Fox News is brutal when they want you out. I’ve had it happen to me, I’ve seen it with others, I wrote that when O’Reilly himself was being kicked out. They make up stories, plant stories, do whatever to discredit the person they are removing. And that’s what they’ve done to John Huddy, Jr.
Huddy gets one more paycheck this week. That’s it. He has no severance or settlement. His wife is three months’ pregnant. His feelings about Fox News now? “They don’t give a shit about American values.”