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Former Fox News contributor says Rupert Murdoch 'ruined my life'

Tamara Holder, a former Fox News contributor who last year accused an executive of sexual misconduct, says Fox News f...

Posted: Dec 18, 2017 8:13 AM
Updated: Dec 18, 2017 8:13 AM

Tamara Holder, a former Fox News contributor who last year accused an executive of sexual misconduct, says Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch "ruined my life."

"I don't have a job in TV anymore because the place that he has secured down like Fort Knox allowed abusive predators to prey on women who just wanted to work," she told CNN's Brian Stelter on "Reliable Sources" Sunday. "That is not nonsense. This is people's lives."

Holder was responding to remarks made last week by Murdoch, the chairman of 21st Century Fox, which owns Fox News.

During an interview on the UK's Sky News channel last Thursday, Murdoch appeared to brush off the sexual misconduct allegations that have vexed the network.

Related: 'Nonsense' that sexual harassment claims hurt Fox's bottom line, Murdoch says

"It's all nonsense. There was a problem with our chief executive. Sort of, over the years. But isolated incidents," Murdoch said in response to a question about whether the harassment claims have hurt Fox's business. "As soon as we investigated it he was out of the place in hours -- well three or four days. And there's been nothing else since then."

The late Fox News chief Roger Ailes resigned after anchor Gretchen Carlson sued over harassment claims last year. Host Bill O'Reilly was also forced out in April following a New York Times investigation into settlement payouts connected to other harassment allegations.

Both Ailes, who died in May, and O'Reilly denied the allegations made against them.

Other men have left Fox in connection to harassment scandals in the past year and a half.

Amid online outrage about Murdoch's dismissive tone, 21st Century Fox issued a lengthy statement on Friday. It was widely interpreted as a damage control move. The statement said Murdoch "never characterized the sexual harassment matters at FOX News as 'nonsense.'"

Related: Fox News still hounded by sexual harassment allegations

"Rather, he responded negatively to the suggestion that sexual harassment issues were an obstacle" to the company's business dealings, the company said.

"By his actions, Rupert has made it abundantly clear that he understands that there were real problems at FOX News," the statement said. "Rupert values all of the hard-working colleagues at FOX News, and will continue to address these matters to ensure FOX News maintains its commitment to having a work environment based on the values of trust and respect."

Asked again for comment Sunday, the company directed CNNMoney to its earlier statement.

Holder, a lawyer who said she left her practice to work at Fox News, departed the network after she accused another Fox News executive of sexual misconduct.

The alleged incident was said to have happened in 2015 and involved Francisco Cortes, the former vice president for Fox News Latino. Holder reported her claims to the company in September. Cortes was fired, two sources told CNNMoney earlier this year.

Related: How Fox News and President Trump create an anti-Mueller 'feedback loop'

An attorney for Cortes said in March that he was "considering Mr. Cortes' legal options." CNNMoney attempted Sunday to reach the attorney for comment.

21st Century Fox agreed to pay more than $2.5 million to Holder, the two sources told CNNMoney in March.

Holder said Sunday that she accepted a payout in exchange for an agreement to not speak about the incident, and to never apply to work at a Fox-owned business.

On Sunday, Holder also dismissed another comment Murdoch made during his Sky News interview, when he name dropped networks that are dealing with sexual harassment scandals of their own.

"NBC is in deep trouble. CBS, their stars," he said in the interview. "I mean there are really bad cases that people should be moved aside and there are other which might've been a bit of flirting."

"Let me be clear," Holder said, "I had a man pull out his penis in his office and shove my head on it. That was not flirting, that was criminal."

Holder said the network will "probably" sue her for appearing on CNN. But she also said a clause in her settlement allowed her to break her silence if she was "disparaged or maligned."

"What Mr. Murdoch said, in my opinion as a lawyer, not as a victim or a survivor, as a lawyer, is that this gives me a legal right to respond," she said. "And I'm responding not for myself, but on behalf of every woman in America who has been abused."

--CNNMoney Hadas Gold contributed to this story.

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