Fox News Threatens Sanctions Against Law Firm Over Carlson, Hannity Accusations

Fox News filed a letter requesting sanctions for Wigdor LLP over Cathy Areu’s sexual misconduct accusations against numerous on-air personalities

Fox News filed a letter Wednesday threatening sanctions against Wigdor LLP, which initially represented Cathy Areu, one of the women who accused top Fox News talent of sexual misconduct in July.

Areu, Fox News’ lawyers at Proskauer Rose LLP say, engaged in “serious misconduct by making patently false allegations of sexual misconduct” against on-air hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Howard Kurtz and Gianno Caldwell.

Areu’s co-plaintiff, Jennifer Eckhart, also accused Ed Henry of misconduct. Fox News has not disputed the accusations against Henry from the two women and fired him in July.

In the letter, obtained and reviewed by TheWrap, lawyers for Fox News request the judge “object to the request by Plaintiff Cathy Areu for an extension of time to respond to the Fox News Defendants’ Rule 11 Notice,” which was served on Aug. 7.

“The request for an extension should be denied because Areu and Wigdor have engaged in serious misconduct by making patently false allegations of sexual misconduct against Carlson, Hannity, and Kurtz. The allegations violate Rule 11 because they are contradicted by e-mails and text messages within Areu’s own possession, which demonstrate that she knew her claims to be false and that Wigdor either knew the same or should have known through the most basic investigation. These false allegations have inflicted serious reputational harm on the Defendants, and this harm has been exacerbated by the sensationalized press release that Wigdor issued, which caused the false allegations to be widely reported in the news media,” the lawyers for the cable news giant argued.

A representative for Wigdor called Fox News’ claims “preposterous” and pointed TheWrap to the letter filed in response, which requests the judge prohibit the network’s lawyers from filing a motion for sanctions. The letter says, “To be clear, the Rule 11 Motion is frivolous. In light of the allegations and facts in this case, dismissal is not warranted, much less sanctions.”

It also notes that Proskauer has “filed numerous retaliatory actions/counterclaims/sanctions motions against clients represented” by Wigdor.

In a statement at the time Areu and Eckhart’s suit was filed, Fox News said, “Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as Fox News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart’s claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network.” In a separate statement, a Fox News spokesperson also said there were no “sexual harassment claims against Ed Henry at Fox News prior to Jennifer Eckhart’s claim on June 25, 2020.”

Areu — who said she appeared on Carlson’s primetime show “at least” 17 times in 2018 — said that after taping a segment with the Fox News host in late 2018, Carlson began “probing to see whether Ms. Areu was interested in a sexual relationship.” Areu also said that Kurtz, the host of “MediaBuzz,” invited her to his hotel room in July 2019, which she politely declined even though she was looking for full-time employment at the network.

Fox News flatly denied these accusations.