Andrea Tantaros: Fox News ‘Operates Like A Sex-Fueled, Playboy Mansion-Like Cult’

08.23.16 2 years ago 12 Comments

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On Monday, former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros filed a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. She charged that top Fox network executives “punished” her for complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace. Named in the suit is founding chairman and former CEO Roger Ailes, who resigned last month, following Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against him. While Ailes was the sole defendant in Carlson’s case, Tantaros has named the channel, Ailes (and his replacement, Co-President Bill Shine), and Public Relations Chief Irena Biganti, among others.

According to the New York Times, Tantaros’ suit claims that “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.”

Politico obtained a copy of the suit, which is 37 pages long. In the early days of her career, it states that Tantaros was “merely the victim of demeaning conduct, such as being instructed to wear clothes that showed off her legs” and that she was required to “strip down” without a privacy curtain in front of wardrobe personnel. But in 2014, Tantaros’ “tenure at Fox News devolved into a nightmare of sexual harassment by Ailes and others, followed by retaliation by Ailes and others despite multiple ongoing complaints by Tantaros, her agent and her entertainment attorney.” Ailes reportedly asked her to “turn around” so he could “get a good look” at her on numerous occasions and made comments about how she’d look in a bikini. He also allegedly questioned her about her colleagues’ sex lives and sexual preferences, and made demeaning, racially-fueled comments about other employees in her presence. Here’s a screenshot sampling of what Tantaros says she overheard:

After rejecting Ailes’ advances, Tantaros was moved from her spot on The Five to Outnumbered, a lower-ranking show, and subjected to other degrading treatment.

Tantaros and the network have been battling each other for months regarding a contract dispute: Fox claims she had breached her employment contract by writing a book without receiving network approval, and that she fabricated sexual harassment claims to gain leverage in the contract dispute. According to the New York Times, her lawyer, Judd Burstein, said the book dispute was a pretext that Fox was using to silence her.

The official complaint reminds us that this is not just about Roger Ailes, and that the whole organization has a long history of mistreating its female employees and sweeping harassment under the rug or intimidating its victims into silence. It reads: “[this complaint] gives life to the saying that ‘the fish stinks from the head.’ For Ailes did not act alone. 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.”

(Via New York Times and Politico)

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