In a lawsuit filed Monday, former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros alleges that ex-network boss Roger Ailes was far from alone in making unwanted sexual advances during her tenure there. Tantaros alleges that network heavyweight Bill O’Reilly and former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) also contributed to a culture of “misogyny” at the conservative news network.
Tantaros’ suit comes after Ailes resigned from the network amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation, first made by fired host Gretchen Carlson in a lawsuit filed in July (Ailes strenously denied those allegations through his lawyers). Tantaros’ lawsuit names the network’s newly appointed co-president, Bill Shine, public relations czar Irena Briganti, and two other high-ranking executives, along with Ailes, whom the complaint labels as a “predator.”
“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,” the complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court, reads.
The complaint also detailes network executives’ alleged efforts to “silence Tantaros by threats, humiliation, and retaliation,” including pulling her off her “dream job” hosting the network’s 5 p.m. talk show and using Fox News’ vast PR infrastructure to denigrate her in the press.
Fox News told Politico the network doesn’t comment on pending litigation and Briganti did not respond to a request for comment. Susan Estrich, the attorney representing Ailes also did not respond.
Here are five points on the bombshell allegations brought to light in the lawsuit.
Around Aug.12, 2014, Ailes summoned Tantaros for a meeting in his office where he allegedly told her to turn around “so I can get a good look at you,” according to the complaint. Ailes also allegedly pressed Tantaros for deeply personal details about the sexual lives of other Fox News hosts and made demeaning remarks about other staffers.
She recounts how the then-Fox News CEO asked if her co-host on “The Five,” Greg Gutfeld, was “gay;” if contributor Dana Perino, who worked as George W. Bush’s White House press secretary, was “a lesbian;” and whether Gutfeld and Perino were “sleeping together.”
Ailes also allegedly asked if Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, whom he called a “Puerto Rican whore” and “easy,” was sleeping with her colleague Eric Bolling. About commentator Monica Crowley, Ailes allegedly said, “If I ever had to go on a date with her, I’d jump out the window.” The complaint alleges he called Carlson “nuts,” correspondent Catherine Herridge “a stalker” and said Maria Bartiromo, a Fox Business Network host, “got so fat.”
According to the complaint, the primetime Fox News host, “whom Tantaros had considered to be a good friend and a person from whom she sought career guidance,” allegedly sexually harassed Tantaros by asking her to come stay at his home in Long Island, which he said would be “very private.”
O’Reilly also allegedly told Tantaros on multiple occasions that he could “see [her] as a wild girl” and believed she had a “wild side.”
Tantaros charges that her complaints about O’Reilly were taken seriously by network executives only because the host had been previously accused of sexual harassment. The complaint states she was informed she would no longer appear on “The O’Reilly Factor” as a result.
The former Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown allegedly made multiple sexually inappropriate remarks as a guest on the set of “Outnumbered” on or around Aug. 18, 2015, according to the complaint.
Tantaros alleges Scott suggestively said she “would be fun to go to a nightclub with” and snuck up behind her to put his hands on her lower waist after the show. She told Brown to stop and immediately reported the incident to Shine, asking that the former senator not be booked on the show again. Shine and Suzanne Scott, Fox’s head of programming, continued to book Brown on the show, the complaint said.
Brown told Politico that those allegations were “completely and totally false.” He also addressed Tantaros’ complaint on Twitter:
As a survivor of sexual abuse, I would never perpetuate language or actions as described in FOX complaint. Actions referenced are fabricated
— Scott P. Brown (@SenScottBrown) August 23, 2016
After a meeting where Ailes’ alleged questions about her recent breakup left Tantaros in tears, the former Fox News host said Briganti stonewalled all media requests but funneled her to an interview with Headline and Global News, which the complaint claims is funded and controlled by Fox. During that interview, Tantaros alleges she was asked improper questions about her body and her breasts while a Fox News staffer stood idly by.
When the story ran with the headline “Sean Hannity Has Nice Things To Say about Andrea Tantaros, but Not Everyone Does,” the complaint states a Briganti deputy emailed the story out to senior network management, a “highly unusual” move Tantaros alleges was “plainly designed to demean” her.
Around November 2015, Tantaros noticed a significant uptick in negative social media posts about herself. The complaint says she believed the fake “sock puppet” accounts—a tactic that uses fake identities to create the illusion of widespread support—were created by Fox News to hurt her reputation by circulating fake, negative information.
Among the narratives pushed by the so-called “sock puppet” accounts was the notion that Tantaros was romantically involved with actor Dean Cain. The accounts circulated a photo of Cain hugging only Tantaros on the set of “Outnumbered,” when Tantaros alleges he groped her, as evidence of “things heating up” between them.
According to Tantaros’ complaint, Shine was a “co-conspirator” to Ailes whom the Murdoch family rewarded with a promotion after Ailes’ resignation. After Tantaros repeatedly brought her grievances to Shine and Suzanne Scott, Fox News’ head of programming who is also named in the suit, she alleges they never followed up on the allegations she raised against Ailes.
In a meeting after the Headline and Global News story ran, around April 30, 2015, Tantaros told Shine she believed the interview had been a “set up” conceived by Ailes and executed by Briganti as part of a campaign to portray her as a sex object and a difficult coworker.
When she followed up, Shine allegedly told Tantaros that Briganti “is like a rabid dog on a chain that we can’t control. Sometimes that dog gets off the chain.” Indicating a magazine with Ailes on the cover, Shine said, “He’s a very powerful man. This powerful man has faith in Irena Briganti,” according to the complaint.
Shine also allegedly advised Tantaros to not “fight this,” saying she “needed to let this one go.”
Read the full complaint below:
This post has been updated.