A Fox News producer has filed a pair of lawsuits accusing the “misogynistic” network of setting her up to take the blame in its Dominion Voting Systems defamation case.
Abby Grossberg, who most recently worked as the head of booking for Tucker Carlson, claims that she was coerced into providing misleading testimony in the $1.6bn defamation lawsuit against Fox News and its parent company Fox Corporation.
In the two lawsuits, filed in Delaware Superior Court and the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday, she claims this coerced testimony helped to paint Fox News in a better light – while placing the blame on her and her former boss Maria Bartiromo.
Ms Grossberg, who has since been placed on administrative leave from the network, alleges this is all part of a sexist, misogynistic culture at the network and on Mr Carlson’s show where women are objectified by male staff members and Jewish people are openly the butt of jokes.
Fox News has now pushed back against her accusations, filing a lawsuit against its employee and asking a judge to block her from speaking out.
In the lawsuits, obtained by the New York Times, Ms Grossberg claims that attorneys for Fox News spent time coaching her in “a coercive and intimidating manner” not to mention prominent male executives and on-air talent before she appeared for a deposition in the Dominion lawsuit in September.
“Fox News Attorneys acted as agents and at the behest of Fox News to misleadingly coach, manipulate, and coerce Ms. Grossberg to deliver shaded and/or incomplete answers during her sworn deposition testimony, which answers were clearly to her reputational detriment but greatly benefitted Fox News,” the Delaware lawsuit reads.
Ms Grossberg previously worked on Ms Bartiromo’s show before joining Mr Carlson’s team last year.
While on Ms Bartiromo’s team, she claims she was passed over for a promotion because the network wanted to fill the role with a man.
She also heard executives describe Ms Bartiromo as a “crazy bitch” who was “menopausal,” the suits claim.
On her first day on Mr Carlson’s show, she claims she was instantly “mortified” by the misogynistic culture.
In the suit, she describes noticing the workspace was decorated with photos of Nancy Pelosi “in a plunging bathing suit revealing her cleavage”.
She claims she “began to experience a sinking feeling in her stomach as it became apparent how pervasive the misogyny and drive to embarrass and objectify women was among the male staff at [’Tucker Carlson Tonight’].”
The suits describe how staff on Mr Carlson’s show also joked about Jews and made crude comments about women.
In a statement, the network has vowed to “vigorously defend” itself against her claims.
“FOX News Media engaged an independent outside counsel to immediately investigate the concerns raised by Ms. Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review,” a spokesperson told The Independent.
“Her allegations in connection with the Dominion case are baseless and we will vigorously defend Fox against all of her claims.”
On Monday afternoon, Fox News filed a countersuit against Ms Grossberg, asking a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to stop her from disclosing her communications with the company’s lawyers.
“Ms Grossberg has threatened to disclose Fox’s attorney-client privileged information and we filed a temporary restraining order to protect our rights,” a Fox spokesperson said.
A ruling has not yet been given on Fox News’ request.
The accusations levelled in the lawsuit mark the latest embarassment for the right-wing network as it continues to fight the Dominion lawsuit.
Dominion has accused Fox News of pushing pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theories about the ballot counting technology system around the 2020 presidential election in a move that “recklessly disregarded the truth”.
Documents so far handed over as part of the lawsuit have revealed that Fox News’ biggest hosts and right-wing figures privately dismissed Mr Trump’s claims about the election being stolen – all the while pushing the conspiracies on air to their viewers.
Fox News has denied the allegations.
A pretial hearing is scheduled to take place on Tuesday in the case.