Despite suggestions Fox News may be making the network a less hostile workplace for women, a major personality risks losing her job after speaking out publicly against her former boss.
Fox News Tuesday confirmed a report that it is threatening to terminate the contract of host Andrea Tantaros, one of the women who has stepped forward to level sexual harassment charges against former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.
A Fox News spokesperson told Newsmax on Tuesday "no decision has been made yet regarding her contract."
This statement confirms a Politico.com report Monday quoting Fox News sources that Tantaros "might be terminated now that she may have breached confidentiality by speaking to New York magazine, via her lawyer."
Ailes’ attorney Susan R. Estrich tells Newsmax her client denies the sexual harassment charges leveled by Tantaros.
"Andrea Tantaros is a talented political commentator whose absence from Fox recently had absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Ailes," Estrich stated in an email to Newsmax on Tuesday evening. "He is bewildered by her accusation and strongly denies it."
Tantaros' claims, if true, directly contradict Fox News executives who have maintained that they were unaware of sexual allegations against Ailes prior to the bombshell July sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.
Ailes resigned in July, and opened the floodgates for more than two dozen women who have made allegations of sexual harassment against Ailes or other network honchos. They claim, in some cases, alleged retaliation, intimidation, or threats.
In New York magazine’s report, Burstein says Tantaros complained of sexual harassment on several occasions in 2015, to Fox senior vice president Suzanne Scott, to Fox general counsel Dianne Brandi, and to Fox executive vice president Bill Shine.
Ailes resigned in July.
Tantaros last appeared on the air in April. "I believe it’s retaliatory," Burstein said.
According to published reports, Fox News continues to pay her while her status with the company is under review.
The Politico article focuses on an unidentified source who states that Tantaros never complained to Fox executives or the network’s HR department about Ailes.
Fox News issued a statement to Newsmax from Shine that "Andrea never made any complaints to me about Roger Ailes sexually harassing her."
Tantaros says the harassment began in August 2014, but she rejected Ailes overtures. In February 2015, she was demoted from the highly rated program The Five, and assigned to work on the mid-day program, "Outnumbered."
But that month, Burstein told New York magazine, Ailes made suggestive remarks in his office, stating she must "really look good in a bikini."
According to Burstein, Tantaros maintains that she filed a formal complaint about alleged harassment in April 2015. She continued to complain to Fox executives, he says, and was suspended from appearing on the network in April 2016.
That month, Fox News released a statement to TV Newser that: "Issues have arisen regarding Andrea’s contract, and Fox News Channel has determined it best that she take some time off. She is still under contract with the network."
The Politico source said the genesis of that contract dispute was Tantaros’ failure to abide by the network’s requirements for publishing books. In April, Tantaros released her book "Tied Up In Knots," which featured her tied up on the cover. The book was published by Fox’s sister company, Harper Collins.
Fox requires any employee writing a book to submit an outline and a schedule of when they plan to write it. They say Tantaros submitted a sparse outline and no writing plan.
Moreover, the book’s cover image "is hardly the type of image Fox wants its female on-air hosts to be sent to the world," the Politico sources stated.
Fox has requested arbitration of the dispute, but Tantaros has not yet responded, the source states.
That source also intimated that Tantaros is trying to take advantage of the Ailes controversy.
Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox did not respond Tuesday to a Newsmax request for comment. Ailes’ attorneys denied that any harassment took place.
Burstein insists her complaints long predated the lawsuit from Carlson that has thrown Fox News into turmoil.
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