Andrea Tantaros today filed lawsuit against Fox News and several of its executives, including ousted CEO Roger Ailes, alleging what perhaps amounts to harassment of a different kind.
Tantaros, the popular former Outnumbered co-host, in a 34-page complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, claims that Fox News engaged in a sophisticated "criminal scheme" against her allegedly involving cyber-stalking that parallels an episode of Homeland.
The political analyst previously refused to confidentially settle a pending sexual harassment lawsuit for about $1 million, and as such, Tantaros suggets in legal papers that she poses an "existential threat" to Fox News executives presumably as a potential whistleblower.
In August 2016, she sued Fox News, 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 the complaint, Tantaros characterized the network as a "Playboy Mansion-like cult" and also leveled accusations of misbehavior at other Fox News personalities. Part of the retaliation allegedly came in the form of a demotion from the higher-rated The Five (which just moved to prime time at 9 p.m. Eastern) to Outnumbered.
Ailes and Fox have denied the allegations, and the channel insists that the suspension came because Tantaros failed to get pre-approval for a book manuscript and that Tantaros never lodged internal complaints about sexual harassment.
Tantaros has been off the air since late April 2016, which — setting aside the merits of the litigation — can't be good for any media pundit's career or brand, especially since she was a fan favorite. It also undoubtedly hindered the promotion for the book in question, Tied Up in Knots.
Through her lawyer, Tantaros is appealing a ruling by a New York state judge that sent the bitter dispute against Fox News to closed-door, private arbitration, as required by her employment contract, rather than open court.In the new lawsuit, Tantaros accuses the network of deploying some complex technology to go after her in violation of federal law.
"...Defendants in this case subjected Ms. Tantaros to illegal electronic surveillance and computer hacking, and use that information (including, on information and belief, privileged attorney-client communications) to intimidate, terrorize, and crush her career through an endless stream of lewd, offensive, and career-damaging social media posts, blog entries and commentary, and high-profile 'fake' media sites which Fox News (or its social-influence contractors) owned or controlled."The new complaint also reaffirms that she was allegedly sexually harassed by both Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, with whom the Murdoch family parted ways last week after 20-plus years.
Tantaros is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, plus legal fees.The law firm representing Fox News issued a statement about the new lawsuit, The Hollywood Reporter detailed.
"Fox News and its executives flatly deny that they conducted any electronic surveillance of Ms. Tantaros. They have no knowledge of the anonymous or pseudonymous tweets described in her complaint. This lawsuit is a flimsy pretext to keep Ms. Tantaros and her sexual harassment claims in the public eye after the State Supreme Court directed her to bring them in arbitration."Ailes' attorney Susan Estrich, a prominent liberal Democrat who ran Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign in 1988, deemed the new lawsuit a publicity stunt, CNN reported.
A federal judge may now be called up to determine in the arbitration clause also applies to these new allegations.
Last week, Andrea Tantaros sued two former Fox News Channel colleagues, but not Fox itself, for defamation. In that lawsuit, Tantaros claims she was libeled in the form of a tweet sent out by former Fox News contributor Nomiki Konst, a liberal/progressive activist who now works for the Young Turks, and that Fox exec Irena Briganti put her up to it.
Fox News kept Andrea Tantaros on the payroll until October 2016, when she appeared on Good Morning America to discuss the sexual harassment accusations, which violated a contractual confidentiality provision.
Editor's note: Briganti has issued a statement, through her lawyers.
"I had nothing whatsoever to do with Ms. Konst's decision to publish a tweet about her views on Bill O'Reilly, in which she mentioned Andrea Tantaros. I have never even met or spoken with Ms. Konst."[Featured Image by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP Images]