Andrea Tantaros, the former Fox News host who accused Roger Ailes of sexually harassing her has filed a formal lawsuit that implicates other high-level Fox executives and Bill O’Reilly.
Tantaros, as I've previously reported, has been fighting with Fox since she was suspended from the network in April. According to Fox, the suspension was over a contract issue regarding her book. According to Tantaros’ attorney, Judd Burstein, that was an excuse to retaliate against her for filing sexual harassment and hostile-workforce complaints. Now, Tantaros has filed a lawsuit.
From The New York Times:
“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,” Ms. Tantaros’s suit says.
During arbitration, Mr. Burstein said, Fox News offered to pay her a sum “in the seven figures” if she renounced claims against Mr. Ailes and others at the network, including the host Bill O’Reilly. According to the lawsuit, Ms. Tantaros said she had been subjected to unwelcome advances from Mr. O’Reilly, whom she had regarded as a friend and adviser.
You may recall that, in 2004, O’Reilly was sued for sexual harassment by a colleague and settled the case. This suggests that it was not a one off.
Mr. Ailes called her back for similar sessions in December 2014 and February 2015, the lawsuit charges, and when she continued to rebuff him, she encountered hostility from the Fox News publicity department. In the February meeting, she said, Mr. Ailes talked about how she would look in a bikini, and accused her of ending a long-term relationship because she had been merely using the man. The episode brought her to tears, the lawsuit states. She said the sole interview arranged by the publicity department during that period was with a writer for a blog controlled by Fox, who asked about her breasts and if she was difficult to work with.
In April 2015, the lawsuit states, Ms. Tantaros met with Bill Shine, then a senior news executive and close aide to Mr. Ailes. She said that she told him about the meetings with Mr. Ailes and asked if he had told the head of publicity for Fox News, Irena Briganti, to go after her. The lawsuit claims that Mr. Shine “told Tantaros that Briganti is like a rabid dog on a chain that we can’t control. Sometimes that dog gets off the chain.” Then, pointing to a picture of Mr. Ailes on a magazine cover, the lawsuit charges, Mr. Shine told her that “this powerful man has faith in Irena Briganti” and that Ms. Tantaros “needs to let this one go.”
The allegations against Mr. Shine are especially significant given that he now runs Fox News.
And there’s also this:
Ms. Tantaros also claimed in the lawsuit that she was the subject of humiliating posts by pseudonymous accounts on Twitter known as “sock puppets” that she says were instigated by the Fox News publicity department.
We have been harassed for years by sock puppets almost surely acting on behalf of Fox News or Fox News personnel. I don’t want to give them the satisfaction or publicity in naming their Twitter accounts or blogs. But since they’ll probably read this post, I’ll just say, “I wish you guys well.”
Crossposted from Newshounds.
Former Sen. Scott Brown is also named in the lawsuit; Tantaros claims he made sexually inappropriate comments on the set of Outnumbered and put his hands on her lower waist at lunch. Tantaros claims she reported his behavior to then-Fox News executive vice president Bill Shine, but nothing was done. Shine is now co-president of the network.
“Brown made a number of sexually inappropriate comments to Tantaros on set, including, and in a suggestive manner, that Tantaros ‘would be fun to go to a nightclub with,’” the lawsuit reads.