Andrea Tantaros, a former host of the Fox show “The Five,” has filed a new lawsuit against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and other executives, claiming that an extensive online harassment campaign had been waged against her.
The suit also mentions recently-ousted Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, claiming that he and Ailes were “supported by a cabal of senior executives” in their “highly complex and extremely high-tech” criminal conduct.
The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Federal Court on Monday, charges the Fox News network, former CEO Roger Ailes, co-president Bill Shine, PR executive Irena Briganti, and social-media consultant Peter Snyder for “digital character assassination” involving hacking and threats.
The lawsuit describes an elaborate campaign against Tantaros, including hacking her personal computer and the creation of “sock puppet” social media accounts used to harass her online — similar criminal behavior “portrayed in a recent episode of the highly popular Showtime Network series, ‘Homeland.'” In the episode, titled “Sock-Puppets,” similar conduct was used to destroy the reputation of a newly-elected president.
“Fox News and its executives flatly deny that they conducted any electronic surveillance of Ms. Tantaros,” the network said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “They have no knowledge of the anonymous or pseudonymous tweets described in her complaint. This lawsuit is a flimsy pretext to keep Ms. Tantaros and her sexual harassment claims in the public eye after the State Supreme Court directed her to bring them in arbitration.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the aforementioned online abuse has been “long underway” and is being used against the victims of sexual assault at Fox News. “In the case of Ms Tantaros,” the lawsuit says, “the conduct started while she was employed by Fox News and continues to this day–long after her employment with the network was terminated.”
In August 2016, Tantaros filed a separate sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News, Ailes and current co-president Bill Shine. That lawsuit, too, mentioned the network’s biggest star, O’Reilly.
“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,” the lawsuit stated.
Fox News quickly fired back, seeking arbitration and calling Tantaros “not a victim” but “an opportunist.”
In her lawsuit, Tantaros called her gig at Fox News her “dream job,” but alleged that she was “the victim of demeaning conduct, such as being instructed to wear clothes that showed off her legs, and being required to annually pick on-air clothing in the middle of a room without the benefit of even a curtain, thereby forcing her to strip down in front of Fox News wardrobe personnel.”
In October of 2016, Tantaros discussed her sexual harassment lawsuit on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think a culture change at Fox News is in order,” she said. “Ailes sexually harassed me numerous times.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this story.