Fox News has built a basic cable ratings empire on its reputation as a bastion of conservative American values, but the channel’s supposedly wholesome image has been besmirched in recent months by numerous allegations of sexual harassment against ex-CEO Roger Ailes. Much of the focus in the Ailes story has been on the lawsuit filed in July by on-air personality Gretchen Carlson. But the scandal appears to extend well beyond Carlson and may, in fact, involve dozens of women employed at Fox News during Ailes’ reign. One such dissatisfied ex-employee is Andrea Tantaros, familiar to Fox viewers from her appearances on panel shows like The Five and Outnumbered. Once considered, in Sean Hannity’s words, a “rising bright young smart conservative star” at the network, Tantaros found herself suspended indefinitely by Fox. The alleged reason was her failure to obtain the proper “approvals” for a book she’d written, but Tantaros suspected that other factors were at play, namely her reluctance to be ogled and objectified by Ailes. Now, having filed a $49 million lawsuit of her own, Tantaros talks about the “sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like” atmosphere at the network in an Esquire article by Danielle Bacher entitled “Why She’s Suing Fox News.”
Tantaros maintains that the now-ousted Ailes did not act in isolation. In fact, his “grotesque misdeeds” at Fox were enabled and covered up by numerous lieutenants, some of whom are still with the network. Among those mentioned specifically by Tantaros are Bill O’Reilly, who once invited her to his “very private” place in Long Island, and Outnumbered guest Scott Brown, who “came up behind her one day while she was buying lunch and placed his hands on her lower waist.” It is Tantaros’ contention that these acts occurred because of the atmosphere of intimidation that existed at Fox News under Ailes.
One of the strangest, most haunting aspects of the story is that Ailes seemed to predict his own downfall and the fallout that would ensue. The article quotes a statement that Ailes gave to his own biographer:
Right now, everybody thinks I’m the greatest guy in the world. But people will be stepping over my body before it gets cold. Within a day or two, everybody will be complaining about what a prick I was.