Fox News accused by female employee of operating like a “Playboy Mansion-like cult”.

Conservative American news network Fox News has been described as being a ‘Playboy Mansion-like cult’ after the latest sexual harassment lawsuit to taint the network was filed by former Fox News reporter Andrea Tantaros against former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes.

This story not only points the finger at Ailes, but at several executives who have also been alleged to foster a toxic environment where sexual harassment was tolerated and those who dared complain punished.

Ailes is no longer at the network, however is reportedly advising proud mysogynist Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, which makes sense. Like two peas in a pod.

The executive resigned from the network earlier this year after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against him and after Fox anchor Megyn Kelly told attorneys investigating the claims that she’d been on the receiving end of unwanted sexual advances towards her a decade ago.

Andrea Tantaros (far right) on the set of The Five. Image: Fox News, photo by Carlo Allegri

The 76-year-old is recognised for making Fox News the loud, brash tabloid network it is today. Fox co-founder Rupert Murdoch has only ever said good things about the former executive however parent company 21st Century Fox is running its own investigation into the claims against him. It has been reported that at least 20 other women (former and current Fox News employees) have contacted Carlson's lawyers about Ailes.

Advertisement

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros claims that Ailes sexually harassed her and that high-ranking executives 'fostered a newsroom culture in which abusive behaviour flourished'.

“Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny,” the suit states.

Ailes was "the primary culprit" according to the lawsuit, but not the only culprit. Also named are most senior executives at the network who Tantaros claims used threats, humiliation, and retaliation in an attempt to silence her.

Ex Fox News executive Roger Ailes. Image: Fox News

Tantaros describes Ailes as a "sexual predator" who made inappropriate comments about her body, asked her to twirl in front of him and once said, "I bet you look good in a bikini." She claims the sexual harassment began in 2014 and that she was 'punished' for filing complaints over the harassment.

She says after turning down Ailes' advances she was reassigned from her job on The Five which aired at 5pm to a larger audience to a noon program called Outnumbered.

Image via Amazon.

The former reporter has been off air for several months with Fox News claiming she was stood down for breaching her contract by not receiving the necessary approval to work on her book Tied Up In Knots: How Getting What They Wanted Has Made Women Miserable.

Donald Trumps daughter Ivanka tries to present her father as a feminist. Nice try Ivanka but no sale. Article continues after this video.

Tantaros' claims that executives at the network protected men like Ailes after complaints were filed and that the Fox PR machine planted negative stories about her and set up fake social media accounts with the express purpose of discrediting her.

The fact she is taking action against Ailes and the Fox Network is so important for all female employees. Work place law can't be any clearer. Women have a right to feel safe at work. Women have a right to be able to do their jobs without being sexually harassed.

Former Fox News event planner Laurie Luhn previously claimed Ailes had sexually harrassed her for two decades. She told her story to New York Magazine.

Luhn put on the black garter and stockings she said Ailes had instructed her to buy; he called it her uniform. Ailes sat on a couch. "Go over there. Dance for me," she recalled him saying. She hesitated. "Laurie, if you're gonna be my girl, my eyes and ears, if you are going to be someone I can depend on in Washington, my spy, come on, dance for me," he said, according to her account. When she started dancing, Ailes got out a video camera. Luhn didn’t want to be filmed, she said, but Ailes was insistent: "I am gonna need you to do better than that."

When she had finished dancing, Ailes told her to get down on her knees in front of him, she said, and put his hands on her temples. As she recalled, he began speaking to her slowly and authoritatively, as if he were some kind of Svengali: "Tell me you will do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it. At any time, at any place when I call. No matter where I call you, no matter where you are. Do you understand? You will follow orders. If I tell you to put on your uniform, what are you gonna do, Laurie? WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO, LAURIE?" Then, she recalled, his voice dropped to a whisper: "What are you, Laurie? Are you Roger's whore? Are you Roger's spy? Come over here." Ailes asked her to perform oral sex, she said.

Later, Ailes showed her the footage of her dancing. She asked him what he intended to do with it and, she says, he replied, "I am going to put it in a safe-deposit box just so we understand each other."

Tantaros and her fellow complainants are making a huge sacrifice in taking such decisive action. Cast your mind back to one of Australia's most high-profile cases of sexual harassment and look at how that ended up.

Kristy Fraser-Kirk was vilified after filing a lawsuit against former David Jones boss Mark McInnes. Image: ABC News

Kristy Fraser-Kirk, a junior publicist at David Jones, filed a $37 million lawsuit against her former boss, then chief Mark McInnes and fellow executives. She was accused of being greedy and was vilified in the media, ultimately settling confidentially for a reported $850,000.

Surely sexual harassment has to stop soon.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION