The war of words between Andrea Tantaros and Fox News continues to heat up, with the network declaring that she is an “opportunist” and a “wannabe” sexual harassment victim.
“Tantaros’s allegations about sexual harassment are a smokescreen to obscure her violation of her employment contract,” Fox News argued in a court filing today that seeks to compel arbitration rather than continued litigation in a New York court.
Last week, Tantaros, 37, filed a lawsuit against the network, former CEO Roger Ailes, and four other FNC defendants claiming that the TV channel retaliated against her in the workplace for complaining to high-level executives there about alleged sexual harassment by Ailes. In legal papers, Tantaros characterized the network as a “Playboy Mansion-like cult” and also leveled accusations of misbehavior at other Fox News personalities.
The fan-favorite, pro-Trump Tantaros, who is still listed as the co-host of Outnumbered on the show’s webpage, remains on the payroll under a contract that runs through April, 2017.
Tantaros reportedly claims that she was demoted from the higher-rated The Five to Outnumbered after complaining about the alleged Ailes misconduct to Fox executives. Many viewers have previously expressed themselves on social media that they have lost interest in Outnumbered after Tantaros’ disappearance.
After an internal investigation prompted by ex-Real Story host 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 all the allegations against him. An internal investigation is ongoing.
Lawyers for Fox News filed a motion in court today to send the Tantaros case to private, confidential arbitration, which is presumably required by her contract. In its legal filing, FNC claimed Tantaros “is not a victim, she’s an opportunist” as well as a “wannabe” victim who is allegedly pretending that she was harassed by Ailes, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Fox says that the ‘unverified’ suit by Tantaros bears all the hallmarks of the ‘wannabe’: she claims now that she too was victimized by Roger Ailes, when, in fact, contrary to her pleading, she never complained of any such conduct in the course of an investigation months ago,” FNC’s own media analyst, Howard Kurtz, explained.
As alluded to above, Fox News has maintained that Tantaros was suspended on or about April 25 for failing to get network approval for her then newly-published book Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable. Like other media companies, Fox contracts likely contain a clause requiring such vetting by the legal department. Since the tome was published by a Fox sister company, it seems odd from the outside that a disconnect would have occurred, however, although it is possible in a big organization.
MEDIA BUZZ: Fox legal filing says harassment suit by Andrea Tantaros is 'filled with falsehoods' https://t.co/Gz00ok0BfK— Oldies 101.7 (@Oldies1017) August 30, 2016
“In her suit, Ms. Tantaros said she had followed procedures regarding her book and that she was benched because she had spoken out against Mr. Ailes,” the WSJ added.
FNC exec Bill Shine, who now runs Fox News on a day-to-day basis after the departure of Ailes and is one of the defendants, “has said that Ms. Tantaros never approached him about Mr. Ailes harassing her,” the New York Times previously noted.
Upon being contacted by other media outlets, Tantaros’ lawyer wondered why Fox is insistent on resolving the dispute in arbitration, “in the shadows” instead of “public vindication” in his terms, if the defendants are innocent. Tantaros and her attorney also challenged the Fox News execs to take a lie detector test that she will also undergo.
“The results from both sides would then be made public, she said,” the Washington Post detailed.
Ex-FNC boss Roger Ailes also wants the Andrea Tantaros lawsuit transferred to arbitration rather than sorted out in open court.
“In separate filings, Ailes’ lawyers also called for the case to be moved to arbitration, calling the allegations ‘false’ and saying her lawsuit was ‘full of lies and half truths,’” ABC News reported.
[Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]