Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros filed a lawsuit Monday charging that top network executives retaliated against her for reporting sexual harassment by ousted chairman Roger Ailes.
“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 suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, reads.
Tantaros claimed she was one of many women at the network who endured unwanted sexual advances by Ailes, and said that efforts to report the harassment to Fox executives resulted in her being demoted and eventually taken off the air. Earlier this month, the lawyer for the former “Outnumbered” co-host told New York magazine that she had informed Fox executive president Bill Shine, senior vice president Suzanne Scott, and general counsel Dianne Brandi about the alleged harassment and made numerous formal reports about it.
“Ailes did not act alone,” the lawsuit reads. “He may have been the primary culprit, but his actions were condoned by his most senior lieutenants, who engaged in a concerted effort to silence Tantaros by threats, humiliation and retaliation.”
A spokesman for Shine, who replaced Ailes after he was ousted in late July amid multiple sexual harassment claims, told the New York Times that Tantaros never brought the harassment allegations to him. Ailes has denied all of the harassment allegations.
The fallout at the network began in early July when former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit alleging that she was fired from the network for rebuffing Ailes’ advances. A number of other past Ailes associates and employees have since come forward with stories of harassment.
In her suit, Tantaros said that Ailes called her into his office in August 2014 and asked her to turn around “so I can get a good look at you.” She refused, and soon after was moved from a co-host position on “The Five” to the lower-rated midday show “Outnumbered.” Other office meetings in December 2014 and February 2015 ended in similarly uncomfortable exchanges, in which Ailes allegedly talked about how she would look in a bikini and spoke about her romantic life.
The suit claims that Tantaros told Shine about the meetings in April 2015 and that she was told to “let this one go.” She also alleges that she was subject to unwelcome advances from Fox host Bill O’Reilly.
Fox, which declined to comment on pending litigation to the Times, has held that Tantaros breached her contract with the network by writing a book without proper vetting from her employers. Lawyers for the company said that the network was embarrassed by the cover of “Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What They Wanted Has Made Women Miserable,” which showed Tantaros tied up with ropes.
According to the Times, Tantaros’ lawyer, Judd Burstein, said that Fox News offered to buy Tantaros out for a sum “in the seven figures” if she renounced her claims against Ailes, O’Reilly and other Fox employees.