Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News that claims, among other things, that TVNewser is “widely reported to be financially supported and/or controlled by Fox News.”
It’s up to a judge to determine whether Tantaros’ allegations of sexual harassment by ex-Fox News chief Roger Ailes and “O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly are true. But we can say this: TVNewser, Adweek’s blog covering the news industry, is not owned or controlled by Fox News.
We can say this because the author of this story is a former editor of TVNewser.
CNN media guru Brian Stelter founded TVNewser in 2004 and it currently run by respected TV veteran Chris Ariens, a former producer at MSNBC. While the site works closely with the public relations departments of all cable news networks, including Fox News, networks do not, in this author’s experience, have any influence on what gets posted or covered.
The suit claims that Fox News staffers repeatedly crafted and placed insulting stories about Tantaros, “based upon baseless and malicious leaks.”
That was not the case from October 2014 until February 2016, when I was co-editor of TVNewser. During that time, TVNewser never posted anything because of an order from Fox News, and I have personally experienced Fox News publicists getting upset because they did not agree with coverage on the site.
But don’t take my word for it.
Stelter tweeted on Tuesday that, “Ailes’ PR people often leaked info, but never ‘controlled’” the website.
“There was a time in the not-too-distant past that Fox News wasn’t even talking to us. So that would make it hard to control us. As for financial support, to my knowledge they’ve never bought ads in the 9 years I’ve been running TVNewser,” Ariens wrote in a blog post.
The lawsuit also claims that Fox News execs accused Tantaros of leaking a story to TVNewser on February 11, 2015.
“The suggestion that Tantaros leaked a story to TVNewser was laughable, because it is common knowledge within the industry that TVNewser was created and controlled by Ailes,” the lawsuit says.
During my tenure at TVNewser, I only met Tantaros once, on April 29, 2015, when I covered the one-year anniversary of “Outnumbered.” We have not spoken since or prior to that meeting. The interview was set up by Fox News public relations, and it occurred less than three months after the lawsuit accuses Fox News execs of accusing Tantaros of leaking a story to TVNewser.
I never met Ailes or even stood in the same room as him. I never received an order from him or a member of his team that was not typical to what any aggressive public relations team at a major company does on a regular basis. I didn’t handle finances, but Ariens would be aware of anything coming from high-level executives, as he oversees the entire operation.
The lawsuit also says the sites BlastingNews.com and The Cable Gamer are “financially supported and/or controlled by Fox News.” TheWrap was unable to locate backers of either site for comment. But Gabriel Sherman’s book “The Loudest Voice” in the room says Ailes was reponsible for The Cable Game, a site that attacks Fox News rivals and critics.