There are always two or more sides to every story, and Fox News isn’t taking a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former on-air personality Andrea Tantaros lying down.
Instead, the network fired back in a huge way on Monday with a New York state Supreme Court filing that held nothing back, calling Tantaros “not a victim” but “an opportunist” who filed a suit “filled with falsehoods.”
The response says that, despite her recent contentions, Tantaros never claimed harassment by Fox News chairman Roger Ailes during the investigation of her complaints of inappropriate conduct by others, including several Fox executives and former senator Scott Brown, former Green Beret Ben Collins, and correspondent John Roberts, all of whom have strongly denied any wrongdoing.
Fox calls the sexual harassment allegations a “smokescreen to obscure her violation of her employment contract,” which clearly prohibits Tantaros from publishing a book without permission from her employer.
Instead of abiding by her signed contract, Tantaros published “Tied Up in Knots” in which the author, according to Fox, “appears on the cover in a submissive and sexualized position with her arms tied over her head.”
Tantaros made the sexual harassment complaints during a time in which the co-host and Fox were going back and forth about her potential breach of contract. Fox investigated the allegations and even asked Tantaros twice during the course of the investigation, “Can you recall any specific statements of a sexualized nature that anyone said to you?” to which she responded both times that she could not.
In April, after the internal investigation revealed no wrongdoing, Tantaros was suspended with pay for breach of contract. The former co-host still remains on Fox’s payroll.
Tantaros then claimed the suspension was in retaliation for her complaints of harassment, and even brought former chairman Roger Ailes into the mix, but Fox is having none of it. The network says the “unverified” suit “bears all the hallmarks of the ‘wannabe’: she claims now that she too was victimized by Roger Ailes, when, in fact, contrary to her pleading, she never complained of any such conduct in the course of an investigation months ago.”
Fox also makes a salient point of the fact that Tantaros is still an official “employee” and “on Fox News’ payroll,” which would appear to refute any retaliation contentions.
Tantaros’s lawsuit attracted attention due to flamboyant statements like, “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.”
Fox News begs to differ, of course, and made a point to state that they responded to the lawsuit by “immediately launching an investigation in which women were encouraged to report their experiences under conditions of confidentiality, and by committing to make things right with those women who were not treated with the respect that they and every employee deserve.”
What does the network want? Again, only what is in their signed contract with Tantaros, which in this case is to pursue her allegations in confidential arbitration proceedings instead of in the headlines.
In light of things, that doesn’t seem too much to ask.
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