Andrea Tantaros brought the $31 million lawsuit Monday night, roughly a month after Ailes stepped down as CEO of Fox News on the heels of an explosive lawsuit by former anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson, and reports of similar situation brewing with network darling Megyn Kelly.
Tantaros lauded her compatriots for finally revealing “Ailes as the sexual predator that he is,” but insists there is a bigger story at play.
“This complaint is not just about Ailes; it also gives life to the saying that ‘the fish stinks from the head,'” the complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court says. “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.”
A Fox News spokeswoman declined to comment on pending litigation.
Tantaros signed on with the network in 2011 to co-host the news every weekday at 5 p.m. — a desirable slot. She got bumped to a noon program in fall 2014 and jerked from the airwaves this past April — just one day before Harper Collins was set to print her book.
“Tied Up in Knots” allegedly remains unpublished because of the fiasco.
Tantaros says she has been complaining about sexual harassment at Fox for years, continually made to wear clothes that “showed off her legs,” and forced to strip down for wardrobe in the middle of a room, without so much as a curtain. Wardrobe workers allegedly told Tantaros not to wear pants on air because “Roger wants to see your legs.”
“It was common practice of Fox News’s male executives and on-air talent to openly speak about women in sexualized terms and use repulsive innuendo,” the complaint says.
Tantaros says Ailes asked her at least twice to give him what other female on-air personalities call “the twirl,” spinning under his gaze, “so I can get a good look at you.”
Ailes also allegedly told Tantaros she’d look great in a bikini, and accused of her using men to get what she wants. Tantaros says she also had to suffer Ailes asking her “outrageous questions about the sexual relationships of other Fox News employees.”
In addition to querying Tantaros about whether she thought fellow hosts Greg Gutfield and Dana Perin were gay, Ailes also referred to Kimberly Guilfoyle as a “Puerto Rican whore,” called Gretchen Carlson “nuts,” and said Maria Bartiromo “got so fat,” according to the complaint.
Tantaros quotes Ailes as complaining about Shannon Bream’s “annoying” voice, and calling Catherine Herridge “a stalker.”
Referring to Monica Crowley, Ailes allegedly said: “If I ever had to go on a date with her, I’d jump out the window.”
Tantaros says her “nightmare” tenure at Fox News escalated last year when a Fox spokeswoman accused her of leaking a story and told Tantaros, “nobody likes you.”
Around this time, the higher-ups at Fox allegedly warned Tantaros that Ailes was a “very powerful man,” and that she “need to let this one go.”
Though Tantaros says she had always considered fellow Fox broadcaster Bill O’Reilly a “good friend,” she says he started sexually harassing her this past February.
Tantaros says Fox gave “outrageously false and pretextual claim” for yanking her off the air. Since Harper Collins is owned by Fox’s parent company, Tantaros calls it “absurd” for the network to accuse her of keeping the network in the dark about her book.
The complaint says “Fox News has continued to pay Tantaros her salary in the hope that the fear of losing her income will keep her quiet.”
Tantaros takes aim at Rupert Murdoch and his sons for doing nothing about Ailes. She cites a quotation from Lachlan Murdoch, who has claimed that “through the process we have moved quickly and decisively to protect [Fox News’s] employees.”
“In fact, they have done the opposite,” the lawsuit states, noting that Ailes received a $40 million going-away present and has been tapped to serve as an adviser to Murdoch.
Ailes is also said to be coaching Donald Trump for the upcoming presidential debates.
The complaint notes that Fox tapped the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to investigate myriad complaints from female workers, but the report will never be made public.
Tantaros notes that Weiss originally interviewed Fox employees at their offices but put a stop to that “out of fear that the interviews are being bugged.”
Tantaros graduated from Lehigh University; hosted a eponymous national radio show, and wrote a syndicated column for the New York Daily News.
She also served as press secretary for the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Aside from Fox News Network and Ailes, the complaint Names as defendants Fox News Senior Executive William Shine, spokeswoman Irena Briganti, head of programming Suzanne Scott and Fox News’ chief in-house lawyer Dianne Brandi.
Tantaros is represented by Judd Burstein, whose offices are in Columbus Circle.
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