Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros just upped the ante on her legal battle with her former employer — saying the network is either strong-arming or bribing a Twitter user to deny they colluded in harassing her.
In April, Tantaros said the network hacked her computer so they could rummage through her personal email, then enlisted social media users to harass her online with the information. Fox dismissed the allegations, saying Tantaros’ lawsuit read “like a plot of a television drama.” Now Tantaros says that the network is trying to cover its tracks, paying off or coercing a witness into saying his tweets and gifts — which he sent to her house — were innocent in nature.
“This case started off as a case about illegal electronic surveillance and the use of ‘sockpuppet’ social media accounts – extremely disturbing allegations if true (which they are),” Tantaros’ attorney Judd Bursting wrote in a Wednesday filing. “[I]t seems highly likely that someone working for FNC has extorted or bribed Daniel Wayne Block into signing a Declaration that cannot possibly be true.”
Tantaros’ initial complaint identified Block as a sockpuppet account — an online identity used for purposes of deception. Tantaros claimed some tweets specifically referenced her personal life in order to rattle her.
A picture of a movie about a black scorpion was posted just as she learned that one of her close friends had been bitten by one. Another tweet was about a memorial for Tantaros’ dead brother, which was posted after she and her mother had spoken of it ahead of the anniversary of her brother’s death.
In his statement to the court, Block insisted the tweets were merely “the friendly outpouring of a real person who considers himself a fan of Tantaros.” He also claimed he didn’t know anyone at Fox News, nor has he ever met or spoken to Roger Ailes.
Tantaros’ attorney argues that Block’s sworn statements “were undeniably false in key aspects” and that it would be “absurd” to grant Fox News’ motion for sanctions — a document submitted to the court to describe conduct that violates rules of the court by the other parties — based on an “untested” declaration by Block.
“We do not suggest that counsel for FNC did the deed or even approved of it,” Bursting said. “But signs of coercion or bribery are so obvious that the best that can be said for them is they willfully blinded themselves to the obvious. They too should be held responsible.”
Tantaros, through her lawyer, said that Fox routinely harasses women into silence, as it did with Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News host who settled her sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes for a reported $20 million last September.
“First, FNC falsely denied Carlson’s allegations even though they were true, instead claiming that she had made up a story because her contract was not being renewed,” Tantaros’ lawyer said in the lawsuit. “Second, even though FNC knew that Carlson was telling the truth, it hired Bo Dietl (“Dietl”), a private investigator, to have his investigators follow Carlson and also try to find negative information about her.
A spokesperon for Fox News told TheWrap in a statement: “Suffice it to say that Fox News continues to believe that its sanctions motion is well-founded and we will address these latest claims in our reply papers.”
Tantaros filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes and Fox News in August of 2016, after filing internal complaints with the network about harassment in February of 2015. She was fired by the network in April of 2016.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.