(A previous version of this article referred to Bill Shrine as if he were still a co-president of Fox News, when in reality he no longer works at Fox News. The article has been updated to refer to Shrine more clearly as “Fox News former Co-President Bill Shrine. We apologize for any confusion. — Ed. note)
Fox News Channel executives are one step closer to resolving a troubling chapter in its history that resulted in the ouster of network bosses and on-air talent accused of sexual harassment.
One lawsuit filed nearly two years ago by former host Andrea Tantaros was dismissed this week by a federal judge in New York who determined her complaint “failed to plausibly allege facts tying any of the defendants to the conduct she claims caused her injury.”
Amid a string of accusations in 2016 that ultimately cost CEO Roger Ailes and host Bill O’Reilly their jobs, Tantaros’ lawsuit accused both men of harassing her. She described a work environment conducive to such abuses and claimed Fox News former Co-President Bill Shine tried to keep her from going public with her complaints.
“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,” her lawsuit alleged.
When Tantaros did file a complaint against network employees, she claimed she became the target of smears and intimidation from colleagues and supervisors. She alleged that the harassment continued on social media.
One specific claim against her former employer was that executives hacked her cellphone and work computer to obtain personal information they then used to negatively impact her career.
Tantaros said the pattern of behavior dated back to 2015.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan after filing the lawsuit, she described some of the alleged harassment in detail.
“Ailes asked me to turn around so he could get a good look at me, so he could view my posterior,” she said. “At Fox, the horror stories of Ailes asking women to do this were so prevalent, because women had commiserated about it, that it was deemed the Twirl.”
The chief executive, who died last year and denied the claims, was described in the lawsuit as a central but not solitary offender.
“Ailes did not act alone,” the court document read. “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.”
Though the network claims Tantaros was suspended because she wrote and released an unauthorized book, she claimed in her lawsuit that her on-air exposure was limited and she was ultimately removed altogether because of her complaints.
After hearing the facts of the complaint, however, U.S. District Judge George Daniels was not convinced of its merit.
His ruling indicated that the lawsuit was missing “sufficient, non-conclusory facts showing that Defendants violated either the Wiretap Act or the (Stored Communications Act), much less that they did so with the intent to cause Plaintiff ‘severe emotional distress.'”
Tantaros had not commented on the decision as of the latest reports available and a Fox News representative told CNN simply that “the decision speaks for itself.”
The judge’s decision moved the lawsuit out of the court system, but the complaint is still open and will be addressed in arbitration.
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