Tuesday 27 September 2016

Former Fox News chief 'sexually harassed ex-presenter'

Published 23/08/2016 | 15:41

Roger Ailes, left, has been accused of sexual harassment (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Roger Ailes, left, has been accused of sexual harassment (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has claimed in a lawsuit that she was sexually harassed by the network's ex-chief Roger Ailes and other top executives.

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The defendants in the lawsuit filed in Manhattan state Supreme Court include William Shine, who was named co-president of Fox News after Ailes resigned because of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by another former presenter, Gretchen Carlson.

"Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fuelled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny," Ms Tantaros charges in the suit.

Ailes resigned in July after Ms Carlson said in a lawsuit that she was fired because she refused his sexual advances. He has denied the charges.

Ms Tantaros said her complaint is not just about Ailes but that "it also gives life to the saying that 'the fish stinks from the head'".

"Ailes did not act alone," Ms Tantaros said. "He may have been the primary culprit, but his actions were condoned by most senior lieutenants."

Ms Tantaros's legal battles with Fox began last winter when the network said she had breached her employment contract by writing a book without getting network clearance.

Fox has said Ms Tantaros made up the sexual harassment allegations as a ploy in the contract dispute.

But Ms Tantaros said in her complaint that Fox executives used the dispute about the book to try to silence her.

Ms Tantaros said she was subjected to "demeaning conduct" such as having to strip in front of Fox News wardrobe personnel when she picked her on-air clothing.

She said her job "devolved into a nightmare of sexual harassment" by Ailes in the summer of 2014.

She said Ailes asked her twice to "turn around so I can get a good look at you", adding, on one occasion, "come over here so I can give you a hug".

Ailes told her on another occasion, "I bet you look good in a bikini," Ms Tantaros said.

Ms Tantaros said that when she complained about the harassment to Shine in spring 2015, he told her Ailes was "a very powerful man" and she "needed to let this one go".

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