It looks like Andrea Tantaros’ days as co-host of Outnumbered on the Fox News Channel are over.
Tantaros filed a lawsuit against the network and five other defendants yesterday claiming that it retaliated against her for complaining to high-level executives about alleged sexual harassment by former boss Roger Ailes. She also apparently is claiming that Bill O’Reilly, the anchor of the top-rated O’Reilly Factor, made unwelcome advances toward her.
Earlier this month, her lawyer first raised the issue of alleged job-related retaliation over sexual harassment complaints amidst a dispute that supposedly arose over a book that Tantaros had authored. After an internal investigation prompted by Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit filed on July 6, Roger Ailes left the network that he founded 20 years ago, reportedly with a $40 million severance check, but has denied the allegations against him.
The Outnumbered webpage still lists the pro-Trump Tantaros as one of the three co-hosts, however, and she is still on the payroll despite zero air time.
In legal papers filed yesterday at the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, Tantaros leveled heavy criticism at her employer or former employer, according to 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.”
Tantaros claims that in several office meetings, Ailes made a series of inappropriate remarks to her.
“Tantaros says that during her six years at the network, Ailes repeatedly made sexual comments toward her, such as discussing how she would look in a bikini and speculating about the sexual habits of other Fox News employees. She says she was moved from The Five to the lower-rated program Outnumbered after refusing his request to turn around ‘so I can get a good look at you,'” New York magazine detailed about the Andrea Tantaros lawsuit.
Among other things, the 37-page, five-count legal complaint (see full text here) also contains a litany of unflattering/offensive comments that Roger Ailes allegedly made about some Fox on-air personalities as well as accusations of misbehavior by other Fox talent.
Tantaros’ last appearance on the show was April 25. In a brief statement around that time, the cable network merely noted that there were issues about her still-in-effect contract, and it determined that she should take some time off. Since then, 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.
Fox News claims that the employment dispute actually revolves around Tantaros failing to submit her book manuscript for required screening and therefore violated her employment contract. Fox contracts presumably contain a clause requiring such vetting by the legal department. Since the book was published by a Fox sister company, it seems odd perhaps that a disconnect would have occurred, however.
“In April, the chief lawyer for Fox charged that Ms. Tantaros had concocted sexual harassment claims to gain leverage in the contract dispute; her lawyer, Judd Burstein, said the book dispute was a pretext that Fox was using to silence her. 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,” the Times explained.
FNC exec Bill Shine, who now runs Fox News on a day-to-day basis after the departure of Ailes, “has said that Ms. Tantaros never approached him about Mr. Ailes harassing her,” and Fox News itself has declined to comment on the litigation, which is standard for most corporations.
The Andrea Tantaros lawsuit seeks a total of $49 million in damages.
[Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]
Added: Reacting to the Andrea Tantaros lawsuit against Fox News, cable news blogger Johnny Dollar contended that some of the lurid claims in the legal papers are for trending/publicity purposes. “It almost suggests to me that the lawsuit is not intended to be successful (numerous falsehoods have already been spotted in the filings) but rather to impact public opinion…Why include allegations they know can never be proved? Because the social media will bite on them. She’s fighting the war in social media because she knows she won’t win it in the courtroom.”