Andrea Tantaros abruptly disappeared from the Fox News airwaves in April, allegedly in retaliation for making internal complaints of sexual harassment by former CEO Roger Ailes, according to her lawyer.
On the Fox News website and on social media networks, the feisty and pro-Trump Tantaros is still listed as the co-star of Outnumbered, an hour-long political chat show that airs at noon Eastern time weekdays, which features four female commentators and a different #oneluckyguy in the middle of the couch.
Tantaros’ last appearance on the show was April 25. In a brief statement around that time, the cable network merely said that there were issues about her still-in-effect contract, and it determined that she should take some time off. Tantaros indicated that she was not permitted to discuss the contract situation during her forced vacation.
The timing of her disappearance was odd and probably unfortunate for book sales in that her tome Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable was officially published the day before, so she lost the opportunity to promote it on various Fox platforms. Helped by the authors’ high visibility, books by Fox News personalities often find their way to best-seller lists.
Some unsubstantiated (and perhaps now obsolete) internet speculation previously emerged that Fox executives were displeased with her open support of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Although Fox News is perceived in some quarters as pro Trump, it gives a large megaphone to many anti-Trump commentators from both the liberal and conservative ends of the ideological spectrum in an election that seems to be, in part, a proxy fight between nationalists and globalists.
[See Update below]
After an internal investigation prompted by Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit filed on July 6, Roger Ailes left the network that he founded, reportedly with a $40 million severance check. Rupert Murdoch himself is currently overseeing the network, but his two sons, who with their dad run parent company 21st Century Fox, will likely be calling the shots on the Fox News Channel before long.
Roger Ailes otherwise inspires much loyalty from various Fox News employees, both male and female, many of whom spoke publicly in support of him after the allegations surfaced. Megyn Kelly, however, allegedly told investigators that that Ailes had made unwanted sexual advances toward her when she was just starting her career at FNC.
Ailes has denied the allegations of misbehavior by Carlson and Kelly.
According to New York magazine, which originally broke the story of Ailes’ impending downfall, Tantaros lodged multiple complaints of sexual harassment as early as April 30, 2015, and through her attorney, has now broken her silence about being off the air for the past couple of months.
“Fox News’ senior executives have said they were unaware of sexual-harassment allegations against Roger Ailes before former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against him in July. But those claims are now being challenged by Fox host Andrea Tantaros, who says that she complained multiple times to senior Fox executives in 2015 about Ailes’s inappropriate sexual behavior toward her. Tantaros says that, after she came forward, she was first demoted and eventually taken off the air in April 2016. Fox continues to pay her…As far as Tantaros knows, Fox executives never investigated her complaints, [her attorney Judd] Burstein says; instead, they claim, Fox sidelined her. ‘I believe it’s retaliatory,’ says Burstein.”
According to the New York magazine account, Tantaros apparently clams that on August 12, 2014, she rebuffed Ailes’s request to “twirl” so he could check out her figure and his inclination to give her a hug. In February 2015, Ailes allegedly inquired about Tantaros workout regimen “because her body ‘looked good’ and mentioning that she must ‘really look good in a bikini.'” Around this time, Tantaros was outsourced to Outnumbered from her gig as co-host of The Five, the five-person highly rated roundtable that airs weekdays at 5 p.m. Eastern.
Fox News reportedly claims that the dispute actually revolves around Tantaros failing to submit her book manuscript for screening, New York magazine added, which is likely a standard requirement in all network contracts. Fox contracts presumably contain a clause requiring such vetting by the legal department.
Moreover, an unnamed source told Politico that Tantaros complained about others in the Fox News orbit, but not Ailes.
“The source with knowledge of the legal proceedings denied that Tantaros ever complained about Ailes to [VP Bill] Shine or Fox HR, saying she made complaints about others, a mix of Fox employees and guests, which the source said was investigated. The source said the contract dispute was about how Tantaros did not follow Fox protocols with her book, Tied Up In Knots, which was released in April and published by Harper Collins, a NewsCorp division which is owned by Fox News owner and now-CEO Rupert Murdoch. Among other requirements, Fox employees wishing to write a book must submit a detailed outline and a writing schedule as required by their contracts. The source said Tantaros did not share a writing schedule and offered only a ‘rough’ half-page outline of her book. ‘The first time Fox heard she was about to publish a book was when she held it up on her television show,’ the source said. ‘Fox didn’t approve of the title…Fox didn’t approve of the cover showing her in a submissive pose, which is hardly the type of image Fox wants its female on-air hosts to be sent to the world.'”
By coming forward now about her prior sexual harassment complaints, Andrea Tantaros, 37, may have violated the confidentiality stipulation in her contact. “She’s telling her story now, [her lawyer] says, because ‘she doesn’t have the same fear of being attacked by the Fox PR machine, and the Murdochs have made it clear they want to clean up the place.'” Citing an anonymous source, Business Insider suggested that Andrea Tantaros could be subject to termination soon by Fox News. Assuming there is no non-compete agreement in play, Andrea Tantaros could land at CNN or another network as a political analyst as the presidential election moves into its end game.
[Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]
Update: A report in The Wrap, derived from another supposed unnamed insider, claims that her book goes to the heart of the contract dispute and that Fox News felt blindsided by the cover art. That would also suggest a lack of communication between the Fox publishing arm and its news arm.
Andrea Tantaros also allegedly complained about an unsafe environment and inappropriate male and female behavior on the Outnumbered set, The Wrap added, while noting that she is still on the Fox News payroll through a contract that runs to August, 2, 2017.
“A person with knowledge of the legal situation reached out to TheWrap to say the sexual harassment issue is a way for Tantaros to ‘muddy the waters when the real issue is her contract’…As Tantaros and the network hash out her future, one likely area of dispute will be whether the alleged contract violation was just a convenient way for Fox News to silence her…The network has sued to try to force the dispute over Tantaros’ contract into arbitration. Until the matter is settled, her career is, to borrow from her book title, tied up in knots…When Tantaros was interviewed in April, with her attorney listening in on the phone, she said she couldn’t recall ‘any specific statements’ made toward her that were ‘of a sexual nature,’ the source said — adding that Tantaros never alleged Ailes harassed her. Tantaros declined to be interviewed a second time, and was suspended soon after…”