Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has filed a lawsuit against the network, claiming that she was sexually harassed by Roger Ailes when he was network chairman and that Ailes’s lieutenants punished her for her complaints.
Tantaros is the second on-air personality at Fox in the past two months to sue Ailes and others at the network for alleged harassment. Former “Fox and Friends” host Gretchen Carlson filed a suit against Ailes in early July, prompting his departure from the network he founded and shaped into a dominant media organization.
Tantaros, who had appeared on “The Five” and other Fox shows as a conservative commentator since 2010, echoed some of Carlson’s claims in her complaint, which was filed Monday in New York State Supreme Court.
Tantaros said it was routine practice for Ailes to call women, including her, into his office and ask them to turn around “so I can get a good look at you.” She said that he asked her whether she planned to marry and have children and said that he had made off-color jokes about his own marriage on several occasions. At one point, she said, he speculated about what she would look like in a bikini and asked her about the sexuality of “Five” co-hosts Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld.
The complaint also said that Fox host Bill O’Reilly had made unwelcome advances toward her.
“Ailes did not act alone,” the lawsuit said. “He may have been the primary culprit, but his actions were condoned by his most senior lieutenants, who engaged in a concerted effort to silence Tantaros by threats, humiliation and retaliation.”
In particular, Tantaros said that Bill Shine — who was named as Ailes’s replacement earlier this month — warned her to drop her complaints about Ailes at one point. Shine, who was Fox’s top news executive and a key aide to Ailes, told her to “let this one go” or she would face a campaign of retaliation from Irena Briganti, the network’s head of media relations, according to the lawsuit.
A Fox spokeswoman declined to address Tantaros’s claims, saying the network does not comment on pending litigation. Through his attorneys, Ailes has denied Carlson’s claims.
“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,” Tantaros’s lawsuit says.
Fox and Tantaros have been at odds since last year, when the network said she breached her employment contract by writing a book without Fox’s approval. As a result of the dispute, she has not appeared on Fox for months. A Fox attorney has previously claimed in an arbitration hearing that her claims of sexual harassment were an attempt to gain leverage in her dispute over the book.
Since Carlson’s suit was filed July 6, more than 20 women have told her attorneys that they were harassed by Ailes during his long career in television, dating as far back as the mid-1960s.