Another Female Fox News Ex-Host Claims Sexual Misconduct

Former host Andrea Tantaros joins other prominent women in making claims.

ByABC News
August 24, 2016, 1:48 PM

— -- Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has become the latest former Fox staff member to allege sexual misconduct at the top-rated cable news channel.

In a lawsuit filed in New York on Monday, Tantaros claimed that that the network “operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny,” which saw her subject to alleged sexual harassment by former Fox News boss Roger Ailes as well as by former Sen. Scott Brown.

The conduct, she alleges, was condoned by top brass at the network, some of whom were promoted in the wake of Ailes' widely publicized departure in July.

With the suit, she is seeking $49 million in damages.

In response to the allegations, a Fox News spokesperson said that the company would not comment on the pending litigation. An email to Ailes’ attorney, Susan Estrich, was not immediately returned. Brown, who represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate from 2010 until 2013, called the accusations “false,” according to the Boston Globe.

Tantaros claims in the 37-page lawsuit that Brown “made a number of sexually inappropriate comments to Tantaros on set” during an appearance on “Outnumbered,” a program she hosted.

Tantaros claims that the former senator said she “would be fun to go to a nightclub with,” and “snuck up behind” her while she was buying lunch and “put his hands on her lower waist.”

In an email to the Boston Globe, Brown said: “Her statement about our limited on air, green room interactions are false.”

“There were never any circumstances of any kind whatsoever in which I had any interaction with her or any other employee at Fox, outside the studio,” he also told the newspaper. He said that all interactions were “always in full view of all staff, personnel and talent.”

He added that any other encounters were “professional and cordial,” according to the paper.

In court documents, Tantaros said that following this alleged encounter with Brown, she approached Bill Shine, who was then senior executive vice president of the company, asking him to bar Brown from appearing on the show in the future.

Shine, who was promoted to co-president after Ailes' departure, as well as Suzanne Scott, who was promoted to the position of executive vice president of programming and development at the same time, allegedly ignored her request, the court documents state.

“Shine’s inexplicable elevation sends the message that it will be ‘business as usual’ at Fox News when it comes to the treatment of women,” the documents read.

Tantaros also made claims that she was the victim of a “retaliatory demotion,” when she was removed from hosting “The Five” at 5 p.m. and made host of “Outnumbered” at the less lucrative 12 p.m. hour.

She claims that the change came after an Aug. 2014 meeting with Ailes, in which Ailes allegedly “asked Tantaros to turn around ‘so I can get a good look at you,’” the court documents state. During this meeting, he also apparently asked about the sexual orientations and relationships of several Fox News staff members, while disparaging others, according to the documents.

The court documents detail what Tantaros claims were repeated attempts to raise concerns with Fox News senior staff, who in turn “engaged in a concerted effort to silence Tantaros by threats, humiliation and retaliation.”

Tantaros claims she was told by Shine specifically that “Ailes was a ‘very powerful man’ and that Tantaros ‘needed to let this one go,’” the court documents state.

Tantaros went public with this allegation earlier this month, in a story published in New York magazine. In response to that piece, a Fox News spokesperson relayed this response from Shine: “Andrea never made any complaints to me about Roger Ailes sexually harassing her.”

Tantaros also alleges sexual harassment by prime-time presenter Bill O’Reilly in the suit, saying that in February of this year, he invited her to “come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be ‘very private,’” and also allegedly told her that “he could ‘see [her] as a wild girl,’” who had “a ‘wild side.’”

Finally, Tantaros alleges she was taken off the air this spring, “based upon the outrageously false and pretextual claim that Tantaros’s still unpublished book had been written in violation of Fox News’s rules for books authored by Fox News employees.”

At the time, a Fox News spokesperson said: “Issues have arisen regarding Andrea’s contract, and Fox News Channel has determined it best that she take some time off. She is still under contract with the network.”

In making the allegations, Tantaros joins a handful of other prominent female former Fox News staff members who have made similar allegations.

Former morning and daytime host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit earlier this summer after 11 years at the company, claiming that Ailes had “sabotaged” her career after she “refused his sexual advances,” and that her job was terminated in retaliation for rebuffing him and complaining to him about sexual harassment.

Fox News and Ailes have denied Carlson's allegations in the past, calling it a "retaliatory suit for the network's decision not to renew her contract" because of "disappointingly low ratings."

Shortly before Ailes' resignation, New York magazine published a story citing unnamed sources who claimed that another Fox News host, Megyn Kelly, had “told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances towards her about [10] years ago.”

After that story's publication, Estrich, Ailes' lawyer, told ABC News that her client “never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly.”