On Friday, Huffington Post published an explosive report alleging sexual harassment at Fox News.
According to “a dozen” unnamed sources, Eric Bolling, co-host of The Specialists, and former co-host of The Five, “sent an unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and one colleague at Fox News.”
The report continues:
The women did not solicit the messages, which they told colleagues were deeply upsetting and offensive. One of the recipients said that when she replied to Bolling via text, telling him never to send her such photos again, he did not respond. Four people, outside of the recipients, confirmed to HuffPost they’d seen the photo, and eight others said the recipients had spoken to them about it.
In response to the allegations in the Huffington Post article, Bolling's attorney, Michael J. Bowe, offered a surprisingly substandard statement: “Mr. Bolling recalls no such inappropriate communications, does not believe he sent any such communications, and will vigorously pursue his legal remedies for any false and defamatory accusations that are made.”
According to a Fox News spokesperson, Bolling has been suspended “pending the results of an investigation, which is currently underway."
Bolling's attorney issued a much more assured statement on Saturday, vigorously defending his client: “The anonymous, uncorroborated claims are untrue and terribly unfair. We intend to fully cooperate with the investigation so that it can be concluded and Eric can return to work as quickly as possible.”
The allegations surrounding Bolling are another bullet in the chest of Fox News, which recently lost founder Roger Ailes and popular host Bill O’Reilly to accusations of sexual harassment.
Shortly after news broke concerning the allegations against Bolling, a troubling trend emerged on Twitter:
Battle lines are being drawn without any evidence having been presented. This is tribalism, a creature of bifurcated thinking. To defend someone or something without fully and carefully examining all available evidence is unwise.
Moreover, it's important to remember that multiple things can be true at the same time. Are there progressives who would like to see Fox News gutted? Yes. Is it possible that the allegations against Eric Bolling are valid? Yes.
It's certainly possible that the claims against the Fox News host are fabricated, but unless and until more evidence is brought to light, taking sides is, to put it bluntly, idiotic.
If the allegations prove to be false, one hopes that Bolling will be vindicated, not only legally, but in the court of public opinion. However, if it’s proven that his accusers are telling the truth, those who stood unquestioningly with Bolling will have been guilty of defending a predator.
It is imperative that we think clearly, and examine situations in such a way that when the verdict is read, we don't appear as fools or villains.