After Gretchen Carlson sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and Megyn Kelly reportedly backed her up, Ailes was ousted from his role as CEO of Fox News. Then, earlier this month, Andrea Tantaros spoke out. The outspoken host of Outnumbered had disappeared from her show without a peep. It stirred up rumors and questions, but no one knew where she was until a few weeks ago, when she revealed that after she went to executives with her complaints that Ailes harassed her, she was unceremoniously pulled from the air. Only after Carlson came forward did Tantaros share her story.
Today, she sued, claiming top executives retaliated against her for complaining. According to the New York Times, here’s what her suit says:
Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny.
Fox News has maintained since April that she was benched for writing a book without their permission, thus breaching a contract. Tantaros’ lawyer says that during arbitration, she was offered a seven-figure sum if she promised to recant her accusations against Ailes and, interestingly, Bill O’Reilly, who has been defending Ailes against harassment allegations all summer. She refused and her lawsuit says this:
Ailes did not act alone. He may have been the primary culprit, but his actions were condoned by his most senior lieutenants, who engaged in a concerted effort to silence Tantaros by threats, humiliation and retaliation.
Beyond her claims that O’Reilly said inappropriate things to her, Tantaros alleges that Bill Shine told her to “let this one go” when she approached him in 2015, when he was serving as a senior news executive. She went to him to ask if the head of the publicity department, Irena Briganti, was going “after” her. Shine told her that Briganti was like a “rabid dog that” the company could not control, but that she and Ailes worked closely together and Tantaros would be better off not questioning what was going on. This is not the first time Shine has been named as someone who knew about ongoing harassment, did nothing, and then later worked to undermine the woman in question. In Ailes’ absence, he has been named a co-president of the network.
Her lawsuit also claims that the Fox News publicity department operates pseudonymous “sock puppet” Twitter accounts that posted humiliating things about her.
In direct contrast to what has been said by many of her Fox colleagues, her lawsuit includes the accusation that she was not allowed to wear pants on-air. That has been mentioned by others in the past, but has always been shot down by Fox News executives and personalities. Not only were her legs expected to be visible when she was on air, the lawsuit claims, but on multiple occasions, Ailes called her to his office and asked to see her twirl or made comments about how she would look in a swimsuit. When she refused to tolerate that behavior, she was allegedly demoted from a host on The Five to Outnumbered. According to the suit, she wasn’t given any good interviews by the PR department except for one with a “blog controlled by Fox.” The interviewer allegedly asked her about her breasts.
Her lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan today and will undoubtedly be making more headlines in the days to come. We will post more information as it becomes available. We have reached out to Fox News for comment and will update you if we hear back.
UPDATE – 08/23/16 @ 11:11 p.m.: Through a Fox News spokesperson:
Irena Briganti denies all use of “sock puppet” social media accounts.
[image via screengrab]
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