Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros: I was booted off air after complaining of Roger Ailes' sexual harassment

The outspoken conservative said she was let go after she complained multiple times to senior Fox News executives

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 8, 2016 9:17PM (EDT)

  (Fox News/"Outnumbered")
(Fox News/"Outnumbered")

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros claims she was retaliated against and eventually booted from the cable news giant after complaining of repeated sexual harassment from Fox News chief Roger Ailes.

Tantaros, a one-time rising star at the conservative media outlet, was suddenly sidelined from her full-time co-hosting gig on Fox News' "Outnumbered" in April, after being booted as the co-host of the more popular Fox News show "The Five" in 2015. New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman, who has observed Ailes and the network for years, reports Tantaros' account:

According to Tantaros’s account, Ailes began harassing her on August 12, 2014. During a meeting in Ailes’s office, Ailes allegedly asked Tantaros to do “the twirl” so he could see her figure. She refused. Then, in mid-December of that year, Ailes made another advance, Burstein says. “Ailes asked her to turn around, and then he said, ‘Come over here so I can give you a hug.’”


In February 2015, Tantaros was pulled off the 5 p.m. program The Five and demoted to working full-time on the midday show Outnumbered. In February 2015, according to Burstein, Ailes allegedly harassed Tantaros again in his office, asking about her workout routine because her body “looked good” and mentioning that she must “really look good in a bikini.”

“I believe it’s retaliatory,” Tantaros' lawyer, Judd Burstein, said of her removal off air. “She made multiple harassment and hostile-workplace complaints,” he explained, specifically claiming that Tantaros told Fox executive vice-president Bill Shine, senior vice-president Suzanne Scott, and general counsel Dianne Brandi about Ailes’ alleged harassment.

Tantaros says that after she filed a formal complaint in April 2015, Shine “allegedly told her, ‘Roger is a very powerful man,’ and that she ‘should not fight this.'”

So far, more than 20 women have come forward to accuse the longtime cable news boss of sexual harassment -- even after a host of Fox News personalities initially rushed to defend him.

But, Fox News’ lawyers claim Tantaros was actually suspended for her book, “Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What They Wanted Has Made Women Miserable,” which they complained they were not permitted to vet before its release. According to Tantaros' lawyer, the network said it was embarrassed by the book’s cover, which depicts the former host tied up in ropes.

According to his 2014 book on Ailes and Fox News, The Loudest Voice in the Room, Sherman describes Ailes' hiring of Tantaros for one of his newest shows:

Years later at Fox News, Ailes would talk fondly about his theatrical experience. "Whenever he can, he gets into the conversation that he produced Hot l Baltimore," a senior Fox executive said.Creating the Fox News afternoon show The Five, Ailes found his inspiration on the stage. "He said, 'I've always wanted to do an ensemble concept,'" a close friend said. "He said, 'I wanted a Falstaff, and that's Bob Beckel. I need a leading man, and it's Eric Bolling. I need a serious lead and that's Dana Perino. I need a court jester and it's Greg [Gutfeld], and I need the leg. That's Andrea Tantaros."

As for the conservative commentator's on-air opinions on sexual harassment, they remained in line with the network's larger narrative of victim blaming, despite her own alleged experience with workplace harassment.

Women who face sexual assault “need to decide” between being "strong" and "capable of taking care of ourselves" or being “victims who need a special set of rules and regulations and protections," she said in 2014:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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