Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros and her attorney continue to attack the network she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against last year. According to court documents filed Thursday by her attorney Judd Burstein, Tantaros is now accusing the network of paying a contributor to have them attack her on the Internet.
The filing states that Fox News contributor Pete Snyder was paid $180,000 per year since 2012 for his work as an on-air commentator. In the documents, Burstein claims this amount is more than similar contributors are paid and implies that he was secretly being compensated to run phony blogs or social media that defamed his client.
“Based on these exorbitant fees, Plantiff is entitled to inference that Fox News was paying Mr. Snyder for something other than his on-air appearances,” the filing reads.
The brief goes on to say that the extra compensation “gives rise to a fair inference that the Snyder Defendants were compensated for their cyberattacks on behalf of Fox News through padded paychecks ostensibly for Snyder’s limited on-air contributions.”
“Additionally,” Burstein adds, “There are numerous media reports about slush funds maintained by [Roger] Ailes and Fox News for just the type of nefarious purposes alleged herein. It could easily be technically accurate that the Snyder Defendants were not compensated directly by Fox News, but substantively dishonest in that they were paid indirectly out of a slush fund that could not be readily traced to Fox News.”
Fox News did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Snyder is the former CEO of New Media Strategies who has political ambitions and ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2013. He worked as a pollster during Rudy Giuliani’s 1997 New York City mayoral campaign.
Tantaros’ initial $50 million harassment lawsuit was moved to arbitration by a New York state judge earlier this year.
Fox News went after Burstein in a motion back in May, claiming he should have known his client’s allegations were a “hoax.” The network has accused Bernstein of violating ethical responsibilities and has asked the court to refer the matter to discipline authorities.
“There are only two possibilities: Burstein either knew this and filed the Complaint maliciously or, if he did not, he failed to fulfill his basic professional obligations… to investigate his client’s claims,” Fox said in a court document after Fox News filed a motion for sanctions against Burstein.
Earlier this year, Fox News said Tantaros’ claims “read like the plot of a television drama.” Last year, Tantaros filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News that claimed, among other things, that the industry blog TVNewser is “widely reported to be financially supported and/or controlled by Fox News,” but that was proven to be inaccurate by the author of this story, who is a former editor of TVNewser.
Tantaros’ lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Federal Court in April, charges the Fox News network, now-deceased former CEO Roger Ailes, former co-president Bill Shine and Snyder for “digital character assassination” involving hacking and threats.
Snyder’s attorney provided the following statement: “This case brought by Andrea Tantaros and her attorney is ludicrous and sanctionable. Months after trying to shake down Pete Snyder for a massive payout with the threat of litigation smears, Ms. Tantaros has yet to provide an ounce of evidence supporting any of her outrageous claims. In fact, she predicated her case on reckless accusations that a fictitious twitter account was used to target her when, in fact, the real, live account holder has come forward, belying her false claims. And now, she has doubled-down on her conspiracy theories, claiming Mr. Snyder must have been doing more for Fox News for the money he received per appearance on Fox cable shows, based on what even her counsel admits is incomplete information. In reality, Mr. Snyder was a well respected and frequent on-air contributor for Fox News and Fox Business Channel over 15 years and paid a monthly retainer to be ‘on call’ to make appearances at Fox’s request. But this is the game Ms. Tantaros and her lawyer are playing, smearing a good person like Pete Snyder who has nothing to do with their blood feud with Fox News. We are 100% confident that we will prevail in a court of law and get her and her counsel sanctioned for what they have done to Pete Snyder.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report