Tucker Carlson was ousted from Fox News in part because of sexism, according to reports.
He’s currently a defendant in a hostile workplace lawsuit brought by ex-producer Abby Grossberg.
Carlson is still on track to be sacked even though he left Fox, a lawyer for Grossberg said.
Lawyers for Abby Grossberg — a former Fox News producer suing the network over what she described in a lawsuit as a sexist, hostile environment — are still on track to depose Tucker Carlson later this year, a member of her legal team told Insider.
Grossberg’s lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court against Fox News in March, also names both Carlson and one of his top producers, Justin Wells, as defendants. Both Carlson and Wells stopped working for Fox News on Monday. Their removal from Fox News, however, doesn’t mean they can escape scrutiny in the lawsuit, Grossberg’s lawyer Tanvir Rahman told Insider.
“Even if the judge agrees somehow that he shouldn’t be a named defendant, there’s still no way that they’ll get around us deposing him,” Rahman, an attorney at Filippatos Law, told Insider. “He’s still a relevant witness.”
Fox News announced Monday morning that it would “part ways” with Carlson. Carlson has not publicly addressed being booted from the network and was not given the opportunity to host a farewell show. Carlson’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
According to the Washington Post, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott made the decision to drop Carlson from the network. Grossberg’s lawsuit was one factor in the decision to fire him, according to the Los Angeles Times. Carlson’s repeated sexist remarks about conspiracy theorist lawyer Sidney Powell and his own conspiracy theories about the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection were significant factors in letting him go, according to The Daily Beast.
Grossberg’s lawsuit alleges she experienced a hostile environment while working as a producer for shows hosted by Carlson and Maria Bartiromo. Fox executives derided Bartiromo with sexist terms, calling her “menopausal,” “hysterical,” a “diva,” and a “crazy bitch,” Grossberg’s lawsuit claims. She also said executives pressured her into spying on Bartiromo and reporting back about her behavior.
When Grossberg moved to a producer position on Carlson’s show, in 2022, “she was shocked to be greeted by many large and blown-up photographs of Nancy Pelosi in a plunging bathing suit revealing her cleavage,” the lawsuit says. Staffers on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” had debates about which female guests were more “fuckable,” the suit alleges.
“In these discussions, no woman, whether she was a Republican politician or a female staffer at Fox News, was safe from becoming the target of sexist, demeaning comments, such as being called a ‘cunt,'” Grossberg alleged, describing Carlson’s team.
Wells, the producer for Carlson’s show, had denied Grossberg raised that would make her salary commensurate with her male counterparts, and had also made antisemitic comments in front of Grossberg, who was Jewish, according to her suit.
Rahman told Insider that Grossberg’s legal team told Fox News to preserve all communication regarding the decision to boot Carlson and Wells from the network, believing they would be relevant in Grossberg’s lawsuit.
“We have a strong suspicion it was in part because of Ms. Grossberg’s allegations,” Rahman said. “We obviously did tell Fox to preserve all communications related to the decision to fire Mr. Carlson and others, including Mr. Justin Wells, a producer — including communications between the Murdochs and Suzanne Scott.”
Representatives for Fox News didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. In previous statements, Fox News representatives have said that Grossberg’s claims are without merit. Lawyers for Fox and Grossberg are scheduled to meet in June before US District Judge Jesse M. Furman to determine a schedule for deposits and other parts of the discovery process, Rahman told Insider.
Grossberg’s claims pressured Fox in the Dominion lawsuit
On Tuesday last week, Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle a lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, which alleged the network defamed it by pushing false conspiracy theories from Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who had both helped former President Donald Trump try to overturn votes in the wake of the 2020 election.
Aside from her sexism lawsuit in New York, Grossberg also filed a separate lawsuit in Delaware Superior Court, alleging Fox News’s lawyers coached her deposition testimony for Dominion’s suit, and claiming she had evidence that Fox News held from the discovery process. Grossberg’s claims, Rahman said, helped Dominion with its case and contributed to “many hundreds of millions of dollars in value to the settlement.”
Court filings from Dominion made numerous public messages from Carlson where he criticized Fox News’s leadership and used sexist slurs to refer to Powell. But with the case now settled, volumes of more evidence remain under seal. Rahman said his team expects to get some of the same material for Grossberg’s litigation.
“Given the things that he’s been accused of saying, both publicly and in behind-the-scenes text messages and what not, it’s not surprising that his conduct sets the tone for his culture,” Rahman said.
Aside from private text messages exposed in the Dominion’s litigation, Carlson has a long record of making sexist comments in public. In radio remarks unearthed by Media Matters, a watchdog organization that analyzes right-wing media, Carlson repeatedly used sexist slurs to refer to women and defended a cult leader who arranged marriages between teenage girls and older adults. In 2021, his on-air comments criticizing the US military for making changes to accommodate women earned a rebuke from the Pentagon.
Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox News Network’s parent company, Fox Corp., has been on a settlement spree recently. In addition to the Dominion settlement, Fox News settled a defamation lawsuit brought by a Venezuelan businessman who said he was wrongly implicated in false election conspiracy theories. Another company he controls also recently dropped a lawsuit against an Australian media organization accusing him of defamation.
Rahman said Fox News has given no overtures for a possible settlement.
“For some reason, they feel confident, or they’re not worried about having a discovery,” Rahman said.
“They should be,” he added.
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