Ex-Fox News Host Loses Claim of Network Spying

(CN) – A federal judge called ex-Fox News host Andrea Tantaros’ allegations that the network spied on her “vague, speculative, and conclusory,” throwing out the lawsuit on Friday.

“Plaintiff’s amended complaint is based primarily on speculation and conjecture,” U.S. District Judge George Daniels from the Southern District of New York wrote in his order. “Moreover, she fails to adequately make out the basic elements of her claims.”

Tantaros, 39, claimed in her lawsuit that her former employer secretly filmed female talent “disrobing” and surveilled her both physically and through her phone and laptop.

Tantaros filed a sexual harassment suit against the late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and Fox News in August 2016 when the network failed to take action on her internal complaints in 2015. Fox News fired her in April 2016.

After she lost her job, Tantaros accused her former employer of using a “highly complex and extremely high-tech” campaign to torment its enemies.

Her lawsuit said Fox News used “illegal electronic surveillance and computer hacking” to wiretap and obtain information that network-controlled fake accounts later used to “intimidate, terrorize, and crush [Tantaros’] career through an endless stream of lewd, offensive, and career-damaging social media posts, blog entries and commentary.”

According to Tantaros, amongst the damaging posts were those from an account linked to Daniel Wayne Block. Although the account was active on Twitter for just four months in 2016, in that time it posted 6,729 tweets. Patriotic memes and inspirational quotes account for the bulk of the messages, but photographs of Tantaros, sometimes multiple per day, also dot the timeline.

Andrew Levander, an attorney for Fox, wrote in a 25-page memorandum in May, “The allegations of the complaint read like the plot of a television drama: plaintiff Andrea Tantaros claims that her then-employer, Fox News Network … hacked her laptop computer, tapped her telephone, and then tortured her with the information gathered from those acts by sending her coded messages through a ‘sockpuppet’ social media account.”

In his ruling, Daniels called the allegation that malware accessed information stored on her personal devices “vague, speculative, and conclusory.”

Tantaros’ complaint says she gave her personal computer to Fox News’s IT department to configure it for use during a live tweet session, and then began receiving notifications that someone had logged into her Gmail account.

But in Daniels’ ruling he said the allegations fell short of federal Wiretap Act standards because they did not report that any of the named defendants “actually intercepted, or even tried to intercept, any of plaintiff’s communications.”

Daniels continued, “Even if Fox News or another defendant was responsible for installing malware on plaintiff’s personal computer – a conclusion for which there is scant factual support – plaintiff’s allegations at most support an inference that defendants had the capability to intercept her communications. Such allegations, however, are insufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.”

The claim that female employees were recorded while “disrobing” also lacks evidence, Daniels found.

“Assuming the recording equipment was installed in plaintiff’s office and in the locations where the bi-annual trunk show were held, plaintiff does not allege that any of her communications were actually intercepted, as required by the statue,” Daniels wrote.

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