Amidst the sexual harassment scandals that engulfed her employer, Fox News Channel/Fox Business Channel host Melissa Francis correctly predicted that other media industry outlets would get their turn to receive scrutiny. Francis, a mother of three with a Harvard economics degree, was also a child star, notably on the iconic TV series Little House on the Prairie.
Within the past year or so, Fox News famously fired CEO Roger Ailes and top-rated anchor Bill O’Reilly, and several others, owing to sexual harassment allegations in the workplace, which prompted various mainstream media competitors and TV critics, as well as the social justice cohort, to throw a lot of shade on the Murdoch-family owned channel.
In a stunning development today that presumably rocked 30 Rock, NBC News terminated Today host Matt Lauer after 20 years on the show over allegations of improper sexual conduct at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. It also recently parted ways with political pundit Mark Halperin for similar reasons. Last week, CBS, PBS, and Bloomberg cut ties with Charlie Rose over sexual harassment accusations. Similar accusations have emerged at NPR and other news outlets.
Ironically perhaps, NBC News is suspected of censoring revelations about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which prompted journalist Ronan Farrow, a former MSNBC host, to take the scoop to The New Yorker magazine. The Weinstein scandal opened the floodgates for many women to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse throughout the entertainment and media sectors, as well as in government.
While promoting her book Lessons from the Prairie last April, Melissa Francis prophetically told Time magazine that sexual harassment was hardly restricted to Fox News.
“It’s everywhere in my industry. Other powerful women at major networks have also talked to me since everything has happened at Fox and identified people at their networks who are also doing inappropriate things. As I watch other networks where I know there are predators throw stones at us, I kind of sit there and wait for their time to come. Because those other managers at other networks know who they are. And the talent and people working there know, too. The more people who hear other people’s stories and feel empowered to say something, the better.”
In her book, Francis recalls that early in her journalism career, she was sexually harassed by a supervisor at at a small-town TV station where she worked at the time.
She also noted that she never experienced any negative encounters with either Ailes or O’Reilly at Fox News, but as far as Ailes is concerned, after replaying in her head some conversations that they had, in retrospect “it did seem like he was trying to see if there was some possibility.”
In addition to appearing in about 100 commercials as a child star, Melissa Francis portrayed Cassandra Cooper Ingalls on two seasons of Little House on the Prairie, which starred Michael Landon as the family patriarch and Melissa Gilbert, among others.
Francis hosts After the Bell on FBN and Happening Now on FNC. She also is one of the rotating panelists on Fox News Outnumbered and serves as a fill-in host on other programs.
During the same book tour, Melissa Francis credited Landon with instilling in her a strong work ethic, as she explained to the Woman Around Town website.
“He was such a workhorse – the first great Hollywood entrepreneur in my mind. He made a mint in his own cottage industry, writing, producing, directing, and starring in the show…He led by example and we all followed suit. But he was also a beaming ray of sunshine, a positive force of energy, and when you worked hard and did a good job he shown his bright light in your direction, inspiring you to do more. He wasn’t abusive, wasteful, or ungrateful. He expected us to work like adults since we made adult paychecks, but he always took a moment to make us laugh until we cried. His approach was so effective and infectious, it had a huge impact on the way I look at work, take pride in a job well done, and strive to always be a part of a happy, productive team.”
Prior to joining Fox Business in 2012, Melissa Francis was a reporter for CNBC. In 2014, she revealed that while she worked at the NBC sister station, she was “silenced” by management for questioning the math behind Obamacare while on television.
Separately, Melissa Francis told her 157,000 Twitter followers last week that she cancelled a birthday party at her favorite eatery because the manager supposedly bragged that he exclusively watches CNN.