Andrea Tantaros Sues Fox News, Claiming Retaliation for Reporting Sexual Harassment

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Andrea Tantaros.Photo: Joe Kohen

Earlier this month, Fox News host Andrea Tantaros told New York that she was demoted, then taken off the air, after filing formal complaints about sexual harassment by network CEO Roger Ailes. Now the New York Times reports that Tantaros has filed a lawsuit alleging that top executives at the network punished her for complaining about inappropriate advances from Ailes and others at the network, including Bill O’Reilly.

Tantaros says that during her six years at the network, Ailes repeatedly made sexual comments toward her, such as discussing how she would look in a bikini and speculating about the sexual habits of other Fox News employees. She says she was moved from The Five to the lower-rated program Outnumbered after refusing his request to turn around “so I can get a good look at you.”

Ailes didn’t just make crude comments about Tantaros, but allegedly openly speculated about her co-workers’ sex lives, and derided other Fox News personalities in front of her. In the lawsuit, Tantaros said Ailes called Carlson — whose sexual-harassment suit set off the wave of allegations against the former Fox News chief — “nuts” and said Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo “got so fat.” Talking Points Memo rounded up other remarks that Tantaros claims Ailes made about her co-workers:

She [Tantaros] 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.”

Tantaros’s attorney, Judd Burstein, says that during a recent contract dispute she was offered a sum “in the seven figures” if she would renounce her harassment allegations against Ailes and others at the network. BuzzFeed reported earlier that Tantaros had also accused “four Fox News male personalities — two on-air contributors, a correspondent, and a host” — of sexual harassment. Apparently one of those personalities was the O’Reilly Factor host. According to the lawsuit, O’Reilly invited Tantaros to his Long Island home, telling her it would be “very private.” O’Reilly, whom Tantaros had gone to for career advice, also allegedly told her that he thought she had a “wild side.”

Ailes resigned last month after another former anchor, Gretchen Carlson, filed a lawsuit alleging that she was fired for refusing his advances. While Fox claims that its top executives were not aware of the many sexual-harassment complaints about Ailes, Tantaros’s suit says she discussed the issue with Bill Shine, the executive who would replace Ailes, more than a year ago. Per the Times:

In April 2015, the lawsuit states, Ms. Tantaros met with Bill Shine, then a senior news executive and close aide to Mr. Ailes. She said that she told him about the meetings with Mr. Ailes and asked if he had told the head of publicity for Fox News, Irena Briganti, to go after her. The lawsuit claims that Mr. Shine “told Tantaros that Briganti is like a rabid dog on a chain that we can’t control. Sometimes that dog gets off the chain.” Then, pointing to a picture of Mr. Ailes on a magazine cover, the lawsuit charges, Mr. Shine told her that “this powerful man has faith in Irena Briganti” and that Ms. Tantaros “needs to let this one go.”

Tantaros’s lawsuit alleges that the network “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.”

Ailes has denied all allegations of sexual harassment, and the network said it will not comment on pending litigation.

This post has been updated to include additional details from Tantaros’s lawsuit.

Andrea Tantaros Says She Made Harassment Claims Against Ailes, Was Taken Off Air