A federal judge has ordered a pending lawsuit against Andrea Tantaros by her alleged ghostwriter unsealed after denying her motion for a preliminary injunction to enforce a confidentiality agreement.
The case has been sealed since it was filed in October 2016.
Michael Krechmer (known professionally as Michael Malice) claims that the former Fox News commentator owes him $120,000 for ghostwriting a book about the unintended negative consequence of feminism called Tied Up In Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable.
Krechmer alleges that he and Tantaros entered into a collaboration agreement for the book in May 2015 that also contained a confidentiality provision. A few months later, they allegedly reached a replacement oral deal under which Krechmer would receive a $150,000 lump sump payment to ghostwrite the book.
To date, the supposed ghostwriter says that he’s only received $30,000 for his efforts, and when he asked for the balance in March 2016, “Tantaros allegedly wanted him to sign another non-disclosure agreement stopping him from even saying he was an editor on the book, even though she already named him in the acknowledgements. He then sued to get the book’s copyright,” LawNewz outlined.
Krechmer also maintains that the confidentiality provision in the original agreement no longer applies.
As a general legal principle, oral contracts can be binding, but they are more difficult to prove than written ones. Why an alleged oral agreement in this instance? Based on the court decision, the Hollywood Reporter explained.
“Tantaros allegedly did not want to negotiate a deal with Krechmer’s agent because she ‘feared’ it would ’cause her editor to discover that she was not writing the book herself’ and the book’s publisher, Harper Collins, ‘would cancel the book if they discovered that there were any negative issues in the writing process, particularly since she was already running more than two years behind schedule.'”
— Variety (@Variety) August 11, 2017
The federal judge ruled that the court papers in connection with the Krechmer/Malice complaint should be unsealed because of a presumption that legal documents in most instances should reside in the public domain. Moreover, courts generally go along with a preliminary injunction only upon a finding of irreparable harm.
In a legal filing seeking the injunction, Tantaros argued that her credibility as a TV journalist would suffer if the existence of the Krechmer lawsuit surfaced. But the judge disagreed.
“Defendant is, by all accounts, a highly accomplished television personality and political commentator who hosted her own on show on a major network; without any facts to support a finding that her ‘ability to continue in the profession of her choice’ is at serious risk, it is difficult for the Court to conclude that these assertions are anything more than conjecture…Defendant’s claim is therefore far too speculative to support a finding of imminent irreparable harm.”
Krechmer could still be on the hook for money damages for an alleged violation of the original confidentiality stipulation, the Washington Post noted.
Read the entire ruling by Judge Katherine B. Forrest to get the full context and draw your own conclusions from there.
Because of an ongoing dispute with former employer Fox News, Tantaros has been off the air since late April 2016, which can’t be a plus for any political pundit’s career, and presumably hindered the promotion of the Tied Up in Knots book right around the time it was published. The popular Tantaros also missed out on covering perhaps the most memorable U.S. presidential election in history and its aftermath.
In August 2016, she sued Fox News, the late 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 subsequently moved to prime time at 9 p.m. Eastern after Bill O’Reilly’s departure) to the 12-noon Outnumbered.
Ailes denied the allegations, as has Fox, and the news channel has insisted that the suspension came because Tantaros failed to get pre-approval for the book manuscript and that Tantaros never lodged internal complaints about sexual harassment. As an aside, the circumstances revolving around whether the book was properly vetted or not are somewhat curious in that it was published by a Fox News sister company.
Through her lawyer, Tantaros is appealing a ruling by a New York state judge that sent the harassment case against Fox News to closed-door, private arbitration, as required by her employment contract, rather than open court. 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 apparently violated a confidentiality provision in her employment contract.
In a separate lawsuit, Andrea Tantaros has accused FNC of orchestrating online “sock puppet” accounts to undermine her reputation and career.
[Featured Image Charles Sykes/Invision/AP Images]