A Fox News producer’s discrimination lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corp. offers a broader look at the network’s alleged cultural problems, dealings with prominent Republicans and finger pointing after a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.
Abby Grossberg, who has worked in television news for two decades, sued Fox, Fox News, Tucker Carlson and several producers on Monday night, alleging that the network is plagued with sexist, misogynistic and abusive behavior.
Grossberg’s lawsuit alleges discrimination based on gender, religion and disability. She alleges that “the constant bullying and manipulation of her” caused her “so much stress and anxiety that her stomach ulcers broke out and she was in excruciating pain.”
The 79-page lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, raises questions about whether Fox News has sufficiently modernized its work culture since co-founder Roger Ailes was ousted in 2016 amid sexual harassment allegations first raised. by former host Gretchen Carlson. .
Since then, other prominent Fox News figures have fallen, including former primetime star Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling, former host of Fox News Specialists.
“Fox News Media retained independent outside counsel to promptly investigate the concerns raised by Ms. Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review,” the network said in a statement.
People close to Fox News say the network has taken steps to improve corporate culture, installing Suzanne Scott as chief executive in 2018, the only female chief in the network’s more than 25-year history. She is credited with increasing the number of women on her executive team.
Grossberg’s complaint contains allegations that Fox’s lawyers pressured her to provide misleading testimony in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit. Fox News strongly denies her claims.
The conservative cable news channel has been accused of knowingly promoting falsehoods by former President Trump and his surrogates about the theft of the 2020 election with the help of Dominion voting machines and software. There was a separate hearing Tuesday in Delaware to begin weighing the merits of that lawsuit.
“Their allegations in connection with the Dominion case are baseless and we will vigorously defend Fox against all of their meritless legal claims,” Fox News said in its statement.
Grossberg worked at Fox News for more than three years, first as a senior producer of bookings for Maria Bartiromo’s show before becoming a senior producer and head of bookings for Tucker Carlson’s popular primetime show in September. (In the lawsuit, she claimed that she “was unknowingly demoted” from the role of lead producer to her in late November.)
In the lawsuit, Grossberg claims he heard male executives make sexist and derogatory comments about Bartiromo, including that the financial news anchor was “crazy,” “menopausal,” “hysterical” and a “diva.”
A network official allegedly tried to pin the blame on Grossberg for Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News, accusing her that her “inability to handle a diva (i.e. Bartiromo)” created liability for the network, resulting in the litigation. for defamation of great success.
In the Dominion case, Bartiromo’s role in promoting false claims of widespread voter fraud has received much scrutiny. Grossberg’s lawsuit alleged that a superior of hers, Ralph Giordano, Fox Business Network’s vice president of news coverage, tried to “coerce” her into “spying on Ms. Bartiromo” so that Grossberg could get “a clean start” at the grid.
After working less than five months on Carlson’s show, Grossberg took medical leave in mid-January.
When he said he discussed the situation with a superior, Thomas Fox, a senior editorial producer, alleges he was told: “We’re all under stress. This is the tone of Tucker and the rhythm of the show.”
In February, he applied to extend his license on the advice of his therapist. At a meeting to discuss his legal claims Monday, Grossberg and his attorney refused to accept a proposed settlement. Fox later sued the production company and placed it on “enforced administrative leave,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit describes how she was startled on her first day of work for Carlson’s show in September.
He arrived at the office to see “lots of large, blown-up photos of Nancy Pelosi in a bathing suit that revealed her cleavage. The images were pasted on her computer and elsewhere in the office,” the lawsuit states.
The next day, according to the lawsuit, a senior executive producer on Carlson’s show, Justin Wells, called Grossberg into an office with his supervisor, Alexander McCaskill, present.
Wells allegedly asked Grossberg an “awkward sexual question about his former boss: ‘Maria Bartiromo (sleeps) Kevin McCarthy?’ Startled, Ms. Grossberg replied ‘No’ and quickly left the room,” the lawsuit states.
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” staff members had “frequently engaged in group discussions, led by Mr. McCaskill, conveying misogynistic views of women as objects to be judged solely on the basis of their appearance,” the statement states. Grossberg’s claim.
“In these discussions, no woman, whether a Republican politician or a Fox News employee, was safe from suddenly becoming the target of sexist and demeaning comments,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit pointed to an alleged case in October, when Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon was scheduled to appear as a guest on Carlson’s show.
“Prior to (Dixon’s) arrival, a rude and sexist discussion ensued in the newsroom about whether Ms. Dixon or her opponent, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, were ‘hotter and more (sexually desirable)’,” the lawsuit says, noting that one producer “even polled the bureau about their views.”
When Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R-Florida) appeared on television in January on the House floor, “Mr. McCaskill mocked her weight and appearance by claiming that she was ‘fat like Kelly Clarkson,’” according to the lawsuit.
“Never have such disgusting comments been made about men appearing on” Carlson’s show, the lawsuit alleges.
Grossberg’s lawsuit also contains excerpts from communications purportedly between Grossberg and Carlson, discussing their efforts to secure the appearance of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) as he was fighting to rally votes to win the House presidency.
Grossberg wrote that he faced reluctance from McCarthy’s staff, who feared he would meet an on-air pushback from prominent pollster Frank Luntz.
McCarthy, he wrote, according to the lawsuit, was “scared, which is ridiculous. If he can’t fight you, how is he going to fight Biden and the Democrats? After 7 losses, he can only help you ”.
According to the lawsuit, Carlson responded, “I would be a cowardly idiot not to. that he can be
Carlson then continued: “I really hope that he (appears on the show). I’ll be a little mean, because that’s what I am. But I won’t be too bad. I want to help fix this.”