Fox News is caving in on itself. The former host of “The Five,” Andrea Tantaros, has named Bill O’Reilly in her sexual harassment lawsuit. The former host said the “traditional family values” network operates like a “sex-fueled, Playboy mansion-like cult.”
Tantaros filed a lawsuit on Monday that charged that the network’s top executives, including Roger Ailes‘ replacement, Bill Shine, penalized her when she complained about Mr. Ailes sexually harassing her, according to The New York Times.
Her suit, which was filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, said:
‘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.’
Fox News made Tantaros an offer “in the seven figures” during arbitration. It came with the caveat that she drop her charges against Ailes, O’Reilly, and others.
The former host believed that O’Reilly was a friend and adviser until he made unwelcome advances. The lawsuit stated:
‘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.’
Ailes was named the permanent CEO when Rupert Murdoch founded Fox News in 1996. The CEO resigned last month after former anchor Gretchen Carlson brought his sexual harassment to light in a lawsuit. It said Fox fired her after she refused Ailes’ advances. He denied all allegations.
Fox News claimed Tantaros came up with her sexual harassment lawsuit as a means for leveraging a contract dispute. Her lawyer, Judd Burstein, claimed Fox News used threats about the book that Tantaros wrote without network approval to silence her.
Ms. Tantaros’ lawsuit claimed that she received “humiliating posts by pseudonymous accounts on Twitter known as ‘sock puppets.'” She believes the posts came from the Fox News publicity department.
Tantaros’ suit also claimed that Fox executives told her repeatedly that she could not wear pants on the air because “Roger wants to see your legs.” In another incident, Ailes called her into his office and told her to turn around “so I can get a good look at you.”
She said no, and shortly after that, Ailes took her off “The Five” and moved her to “Outnumbered,” a show that aired midday and had lower ratings.
Ailes also talked to her about how she would look in a bikini, the suit claimed, and told her that she had just been using a man after she ended a long-term relationship. In addition, a writer for a Fox News blog allegedly asked about her breasts.
The lawsuit also claimed Tantaros told Shine about Ailes during a meeting. During the same meeting, Tantaros also asked if Shine had asked the publicity head, Irena Briganti, to lay into her. At that point, Shine reportedly told her that Briganti was like “a rabid dog on a chain that we can’t control.” Shine’s spokesperson denied Tantaros’ claim.
Fox News has refused to comment on pending litigation.
H/T: New York Times.