Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has officially filed a lawsuit against the network, alleging top executives of Fox News attempted to punish her for complaining about sexual harassment from Roger Ailes.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in the New York State Supreme Court of Manhattan, is the latest move in the ongoing saga between Tantaros and Fox News. They have been battling since last year, when the network alleged that Tantaros breached her contract by writing a book without receiving network approval.
Tantaros’ lawsuit reads:
“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.”
Back in April, Fox News’ chief lawyer claimed that Tantaros made up the sexual harassment complaints to strong-arm the network in their contract dispute. Tantaros’ lawyer, Judd Burstein, responded that the contract dispute itself was the network’s way of silencing the former anchor for speaking up about the unwanted sexual advances from former CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes.
Burstein also disclosed that during arbitration for that dispute, Fox News offered to pay Tantaros a 7-figure settlement if she renounced her claims against Ailes and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who Tantaros also accuses of inappropriate sexual advances in her lawsuit.
The lawsuit reads:
“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.”
Tantaros alleges in the suit that she was repeatedly told by executives that she was not allowed to wear pants because “Roger wants to see your legs.” She also alleges that Ailes asked her to “turn around so I can get a good look at you.” After she refused, she was moved from “The Five” to a lower rated show, “Outnumbered.”
The New York Times reports:
“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.’”
Ailes resigned from Fox News last month after another former anchor, Gretchen Carlson, filed a lawsuit against the network asserting that she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, though he denies all allegations of sexual harassment.
Mr. Shine was named co-president after Ailes’ resignation, and through a spokesperson has denied that Tantaros ever approached him regarding harassment from Ailes.
Unsurprisingly, Fox News has said it would not comment on pending litigation.
First Carlson, now Tantaros. Who will be the next to come forward?