News of Payne’s investigation by Fox came just a day after the 56-year-old admitted to the National Enquirer that he had an extramarital affair with an unnamed married woman now accusing him of harassment.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the woman contacted attorneys for Fox at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison last month to report that Payne had coerced her into a sexual relationship with threats of reprisals.
Though not a Fox employee herself, the woman reportedly appeared as a guest political analyst on several Fox News and Fox Business Network programs with the hope of becoming a paid contributor.
Quoting unnamed sources familiar with the investigation, the Times says the woman is claiming that Fox blackballed her after she ended her affair with Payne in 2015 and tried to report him to the network.
The National Enquirer’s story, which quotes an apology from Payne, says his affair with the woman lasted three years and included more than 200 trysts in four states.
Payne took to Twitter took to Twitter on Friday morning after news broke of his suspension.
“I will fight this like a lion armed with truth,” he said at 7:25. “Thanks so much to all those that have reached out in support. #FightingBack.”
A half an hour later Payne asked: “Not surprising media outlets that hate President Trump most put out most twisted stories on me – how do you misquote a written statement?”
Payne claimed that the Los Angeles Times reached out to him for comment on the allegations but did not publish his response in the article outing his suspension.
“That is an ugly lie I vehemently deny to my core. There is a mountain of proof that also proves its a lie,” Payne wrote on Twitter Friday morning, offering what he purported to be his reply to the Los Angeles Times.
The Times quotes Fox Business Network as saying boasting of “a zero-tolerance policy for any professional misconduct.”
“This matter is being thoroughly investigated and we are taking all of the appropriate steps to reach a resolution in a timely manner,” the network said in a statement.
Three months ago, 21st Century Fox fired Bill O’Reilly, host of the network’s most popular show, after The New York Times revealed that sexual-harassment complaints against O’Reilly had cost his network $13 million in settlements.
Former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes died earlier this year following his ouster by the network on the heels of allegations by Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly and at least 18 other female Fox employees that the network is a working embodiment of top-down sexism.
Fox News, particularly the “Fox & Friends” morning news show, is frequently adored and retweeted by President Donald Trump, while he dismisses other news outlets as “fake news.”