As Fox News battles the latest sexual harassment storm facing host Bill O'Reilly, it is alleged human resources staff of its parent company 21st Century Fox have been using the infamous Access Hollywood "p***y grabbing" video featuring US President Donald Trump, as an example of bad behaviour — days after the president appeared to defend the embattled broadcaster.
The seminars, described by the Hollywood Reporter as routine workshops arranged by 21st Century Fox and given at "multiple divisions" of the company have focused on preventing harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
An attendee present at the latest session on Tuesday (4 April) told the publication how, at the end of the meeting, a still taken from the video, featuring Trump and host Billy Bush on a coach candidly bragging about sexual misconduct, while making lewd comments about actress Arianne Zucker, filled the screen.
Trump notoriously mentions "grabbing" women "by the p***y" in the clip and, prior to stepping off the coach to meet Zucker, proclaims: "I've got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them."
During the segment of the presentation analysing the scenario, the anonymous source claims there was "an audible gasp" in the room "like, 'can you believe this is happening'?" at the hypocrisy of the example, given how the station publicly supported the Republican leader at the time of the scandal.
"Trump was defended on Fox News after that tape came out… Someone joked about getting fired for harassment and wondering if the defense could be, 'We were only told a behaviour was bad once in a seminar', but Fox News said it was 'just locker room talk' over and over again," the anonymous employee continued.
21st Century Fox declined to comment to Hollywood Reporter about the presentation.
The revelation comes as the network strains over its own internal harassment scandals. Fresh from the departure disgraced chief executive Roger Ailes, who resigned in July 2016 amid a flurry of similar harassment accusations, The New York Times reported on Saturday (1 April) that payouts totalling $13m (£10.3m) had been made to at least five women over O'Reilly's conduct.
The 67-year-old previously faced a legal challenge over inappropriate conduct from producer Andrea Mackris, but this latest allegation appear to be holding more weight, with advertisers on the stalwart's flagship program, The O'Reilly Factor, expressing deep concern.
Trump has however defended the conservative commentator, who he relied on for support during the 2016 election campaign.
Trump told The Times: "I think he's a person I know well – he is a good person. I don't think Bill did anything wrong."
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday (1 April) that O'Reilly is currently still due to be granted a new contract by the network despite the allegations.
Fox News is a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox.
EDIT: A reference in the first and second paragraph that suggested Fox News had arranged the seminars has been changed to 21st Century Fox.