Cathy Areu: Former Fox News Guest Accuses Hosts of Sexual Harassment

Cathy Areu

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On Monday, July 20, Cathy Areu and Jennifer Eckhart filed a lawsuit accusing former Fox News chief national correspondent Ed Henry of sexual assault and harassment. In the lawsuit obtained by Heavy, Areu alleges that she was sexually harassed by Henry and other men at Fox News including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz and Gianno Caldwell. In the lawsuit, Eckhart accuses Henry of raping her.

On July 1 of this year, Fox News announced that Henry had been fired over sexual assault allegations. According to an internal memo read on air by Henry’s co-anchor Sandra Smith, “On Thursday, June 25, we received a complaint about Ed Henry from a former employee’s attorney involving willful sexual misconduct in the workplace years ago. Based on the investigative findings, Ed has been terminated,” NBC reported at the time.

Henry’s attorney said, “Ed Henry denies the allegations referenced in the Fox announcement and is confident that he will be vindicated after a full hearing in an appropriate forum.” Fox News issued a statement about the lawsuit, which reads:

Based on the findings of a comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, including interviews with numerous eyewitnesses, we have determined that all of Cathy Areu’s claims against FOX News, including its management as well as its hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Howard Kurtz and its contributor Gianno Caldwell, are false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit. We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations. Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as FOX News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart’s claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network.

In response to Fox News’ statement, the plaintiffs’ attorney Michael J. Willemin, a partner at Wigdor LLP, wrote that “Fox News was aware of complaints against Mr. Henry involving sexually inappropriate conduct before he raped Ms. Henry and sent graphic and sexually explicit photographs, videos and texts to Ms. Areu. The complaint asserts that Fox News did nothing.”

Who is Cathy Areu, one of the two plaintiffs? Here’s what you need to know:

1. She Has Filed a Federal Lawsuit Against Fox News and Former Fox News Co-Anchor Ed Henry & It Also Alleges That Areu Was Sexually Harassed by Others at Fox, Including Sean Hannity & Tucker Carlson

The lawsuit states that “Mr. Henry sent Ms. Areu a slew of wildly inappropriate sexual images and messages” in the first half of this year, including “many other texts suggesting that Ms. Areu have sex with him.” The lawsuit states that Henry was not the only one who sexually harassed Areu in the workplace and outlines sexual harassment and “retaliation” by Hannity, Carlson, Kurtz and Caldwell.

The lawsuit states, “Ms. Areu was a relatively regular face on The Sean Hannity Show until March 8, 2018. On that day, Mr. Hannity, on set and in front of the entire studio crew – and completely unsolicited – threw $100 on the set desk. He then began calling out to the men in the room and demanding that someone take Ms. Areu out on a date for drinks at Del Friscos.”

“He repeatedly yelled, ‘who wants to take her on a date?’ ‘Take her on a date to Del Friscos,’” the lawsuit continues. “Ms. Areu was completely mortified and made clear that she was incredibly uncomfortable with Mr. Hannity’s misogynistic behavior by quietly pleading with one of her friends in the room to accept the money so that the humiliation would end.”

The lawsuit also states that Areu “appeared on a very frequent basis on Tucker Carlson Tonight” in 2017 and 2018. After an appearance in December 2018, the suit claims that “Following the show, Mr. Carlson, hardly making any effort to hide his intentions, began telling Ms. Areu that he would be alone in New York City that night, and specifically said that he would be staying alone in his hotel room without any wife or kids.”

It continues, saying “Without question, Mr. Carlson was probing to see whether Ms. Areu was interested in a sexual relationship.” When Areu declined to spend the night at his hotel, the suit claims Carlson retaliated by featuring her only three times in 2019 and not at all in 2020.

In a statement emailed to Heavy, Areu spoke about the lawsuit: “Like Ms. Eckhart, I too was fearful to come forward.  However, I simply could not stay silent given the tremendous harm that Mr. Henry and others at Fox News have caused for women affiliated with the company. I chose to file this complaint because no woman should have to suffer the conduct to which I was subjected, much less the egregious conduct suffered by Ms. Eckhart.”

2. She Is a Journalist Who Has Appeared as a Guest on Multiple Fox TV Shows & Is a Former Contributing Editor for the Washington Post

Areu was a contributing editor for the Washington Post from 2000 to 2012. In that position, she created the column “First Person Singular,” which featured interviews with key figures in politics like former Secretary of State James Baker, former Senator Al Franken, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former First Lady Laura Bush. Since then, she’s frequently appeared as a guest on Fox News as a liberal commentator and analyst.

In an email with Augusta University prior to an appearance at the university, Areu wrote, “I am a liberal in a Fox house. The debating in my world never ends. But everyone is debating — around the dinner table, at work, at kids’ soccer games. We won’t stop. And everyone at Fox agrees, things are just too divided. People are either conservatives or liberals. We’re not in the middle anymore. We choose teams. Like football teams. What are the rules? Who are the players? Who are the coaches? Now that politics is a sport, will this debate ever end?”

3. She Is the Daughter of Cuban Immigrants & Grew Up in Miami Before Starting Her Own Magazine & Podcast

According to an interview with Miami Shoot published June 3, 2020, Areu is the daughter of Cuban immigrants who grew up in Miami. After graduating from Miami Killian High School with honors, Areu obtained her bachelor’s degree in English literature at Florida State University. She then received a master’s degree in English education at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

She spoke about her journey as a journalist and starting her own magazine, saying, “I started as a staff writer for my college newspaper, The Florida Flambeau, at Florida State University. And, eventually, like most print journalists, I went on to discuss my writing on national cable news channels. In the middle of it all, I made a life-changing decision, sold my car and moved to New York to create a company and become an advocate for Latinas in the United States.”

That company, the print publication CATALINA, was founded by Areu in 2001 and is a Latina magazine aimed at knocking down stereotypes in the U.S. Hispanic community and showing its positive side. She also started a podcast called “Liberal Sherpa,” described as “Feisty Latina journalist Cathy Areu guides you through the magical, yet terrifying, terrain of our progressive new world. Don’t be left out, do call in, and don’t kill the messenger.”

A 2004 Washington Post article about CATALINA states that Areu “sold her 1999 Jetta for $15,000 to help cover the cost of the first issue of the magazine, which employs eight and is named after what her relatives called her when they had trouble pronouncing her American name.” The outlet reports she was married at the time and dropped her married name of Jones because people didn’t believe she was Latina.

4. Areu Has 2 Daughters & She Penned a Piece About Sharing Politics With Her Children

Areu has two daughters, and although she’s tight-lipped about her private life, she appears to be single at this time. On May 13, 2018, she posted on Twitter, “I don’t have a husband. Don’t believe everything you see or read. … just believe me when I’m on Fox,” she wrote alongside a wink emoji. On Mother’s Day this year, she posted a picture with her daughters along with the caption: “Happy Mother’s Day to all of the single mamas raising little divas during a worldwide pandemic. Drama? What’s drama?!”

On September 27, 2016, Areu shared her strategy for discussing politics with her two daughters. She wrote, “As a lifelong Democrat and a political pundit, I naturally wanted my daughters to share my political beliefs. And I thought I was doing the right thing by not-so-subtly encouraging them to love progressive politics. Turns out I was wrong!” She said instead, she is changing her approach and “modeling political lessons and educating my two daughters, now 5 and 7, not indoctrinating.”

She said what’s most important is making sure that her kids are socially conscious and understand the importance of voting and researching the issues before voting.

5. In March 2020, She Shared How She & Her Family Recently Contracted COVID-19

Areu recently opened up about her experience with COVID-19, which she contracted along with her two daughters. In late March, she appeared on Fox News, saying, “I was mild to moderate. They consider it that because I didn’t need a respirator. But, I pretty much got 13 symptoms.” These symptoms included loss of taste and appetite, headaches, blurred vision and teary eyes, not to mention a fever that lasted five days.

She said soon after she recovered, both her daughters came down with the virus, with both experiencing a range of symptoms. Christina had a fever and chills, fatigue, headaches and a sore throat as well as gastrointestinal problems while Sofia experienced a tight chest, dry cough, respiratory issues, headaches and fatigue. “Everyone has a different experience with this,” Areu said. “It’s almost like the virus knows your weaknesses. And, my weaknesses are headaches and migraines … it’s behind the eyes, the ears, the back of the neck.”

She said that she has asthma and had been really careful prior to contracting the virus. She said although she was self-quarantining, she believes she may have caught it on an emergency trip to the grocery store.

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