Fox News fired pundit Bob Beckel over an allegedly racist comment he made to an African-American colleague off the air.
Beckel’s remark was described as being “racially insensitive” to the network’s human resources team, Variety reported.
“Bob Beckel was terminated today for making an insensitive remark to an African-American employee,” Fox News said in a statement to Variety.
An attorney for the firm representing the African-American staffer said in a statement that Beckel “stormed out” of his office after the employee, who works for the IT department, arrived to service his computer. Beckel allegedly told the man that he was leaving because “he is black,” according to attorney Douglas H. Wigdor.
The attorney says they intend to file a formal complaint against Fox next week. Wigdor’s firm is already suing 21st Century Fox for “racially motivated discrimination” after two other African-American employees claimed they were subjected to bigotry from the network’s payroll supervisor.
Fox was reportedly informed about Beckel’s derogatory remark on Tuesday evening, leading to an internal investigation that resulted in his ousting.
The network released a statement responding to Wigdor’s claims on Friday afternoon.
“As Mr. Wigdor knows, Fox News made the decision to terminate Mr. Beckel after a prompt and thorough investigation. His client raised the complaint to Kevin Lord, EVP Human Resources, on Tuesday evening via email and within 7 minutes Mr. Lord responded and began the investigation,” the statement reads. “Today, Fox News delivered that message to Mr. Beckel and facilitated an apology from Mr. Beckel to the employee minutes after he was terminated. No one tried to persuade Mr. Wigdor’s client to withdraw his complaint.”
Beckel rejoined Fox earlier this year after a stint at CNN. He originally joined Fox News in 2000 and served as a host on “The Five” for years as one of original members of the long-running show, which consists of a panel discussing current events.
Beckel has spoken out in the past about his issues with alcohol and cocaine use.
“The Five” was moved up to the 9 p.m. timeslot on Fox News last month after Bill O’Reilly was axed as a string of sexual harassment and abuse allegations came to light.
“The Five” features panelists Jesse Watters, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld as hosts. Juan Williams is now expected to earn a more regular role on the program, according to Variety.
Beckel’s firing comes amid a tumultuous period for Fox. O’Reilly was let go in April, several weeks after The New York Times revealed he and the network had paid out $13 million to five different women who made accusations against him.
Network founder Roger Ailes, meanwhile, stepped down last July after anchor Gretchen Carlson hit the media mogul with a sexual harassment lawsuit. More female employees came forward with similar allegations in the ensuing days.
Ailes died Thursday at the age of 77.