Beleagured network Fox News filed a motion in U.S. District Court Wednesday, asking judges to throw out a lawsuit brought by former on-air personality Andrea Tantaros.
Tantaros, who accused the late Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, filed the suit in April.
She claims Fox is behind an online conspiracy, the aim of which is to frustrate and discredit her in the wake of legal action.
The complaint, originally pushed in a Manhattan court, alleges Tantaros’s ex-bosses at Fox were monitoring her emails and phone calls, and then ‘conveyed “that they were doing so through cruel social media posts.’”
CNN’s story on the suit outlines several important features of the complaint, including a ‘forensic examination’ which showed Tantaros’s laptop wasn’t infected with anywhere malware or viruses – and that some of the information being launched out into the Twittersphere couldn’t be found by ‘general surfing’ of the Internet.
Fox’s request for dismissal came on Wednesday.
The network wrote in court papers that one of the accounts Tantaros said was a Fox ‘sock puppet’ was in fact operated by a retired man from Gainesville, FL.
Attorneys for the media outlet suggested that Tantaros was either having a mental breakdown or intentionally trying to disparage Fox. Referring to claims of surveillance by her lawyer, Judd Burrstein, Fox wrote that they were “at best, a paranoid fantasy and at worst, a deliberate hoax.”
In addition to a dismissal, Fox is also requesting that its lawyer fees be paid and that Tantaros be barred from filing any additional lawsuits against Fox News. They’ve also asked a judge to refer Burrstein disciplinary action, saying the lawyer failed to properly research the circumstances and facts underlying presented evidence.
However, Burrstein was recorded by The New York Times as saying that Fox had handed his client “a smoking gun.”
He says one of the ‘sock puppet’ accounts, run by retiree Daniel Wayne Block of Gainesville, FL, regularly tweeted photographs and subjects of Tantaros which seemed to stem from her private correspondence.
Block said he had no connection to Fox other than ‘as a fan’ – a statement Burrstein is trying to frame as fraudulent.
“Mr. Block’s declaration is incredible in terms of its convenient coincidences, and also because I will be able to show that some portions of it are demonstrably false,” said Burrstein.
The attention surrounding Tantaros’s surveillance claims and sexual harassment lawsuit come at a bad time for Fox, which was forced to oust Bill O’Reilly following numerous complaints of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and personal misconduct towards the network’s female employees.