Fox News Channel

Lawsuit: Fox Spied on Employees and Used Sock Puppets to Harass Them

Written by SK Ashby

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has made what may be the most explosive allegation against Fox News yet and, for all we know, other employees could have had similar experiences.

According to a new lawsuit filed by Tanatros, the network covertly installed software on her electronic devices to spy on her and then used the material they collected to intimidate her on social media and fake news sites.

Fox “sockpuppet” accounts on the Internet then posted "an endless stream of lewd, offensive and career-damaging social media posts, blog entries and commentary and high-profile ‘fake’ media sites." Sockpuppets refer to fake online identities created by individuals or companies to promote opinions or causes, while appearing to act independently.

In June, one of her close friends was hospitalized for a scorpion bite, which she discussed with friends by telephone, according to the lawsuit. One of the claimed sockpuppet accounts tweeted an ad for the 1957 movie "The Black Scorpion." The same month, Tantaros and her mother had a phone conversation discussing the anniversary of her brother’s 2013 death. Another sockpuppet account tweeted "PURPLE MEMORIAL ... FOR DANIEL TANTAROS, R.I.P. DANIEL.”

If this sounds extremely illegal, that's because it is and federal prosecutors and a federal grand jury in the southern district of Manhattan are currently reviewing allegations that Fox News spied on their employees and hid settlement payments from company shareholders.

NPR has more detail which seemingly connects Tantaro's latest allegations with the websites that posted listicles of "hot" hosts at Fox at the direction of Roger Ailes.

In Monday's federal lawsuit, Tantaros alleges that Fox News executives including co-President Bill Shine orchestrated the use of material gathered by electronic eavesdropping that was fed to Twitter accounts acting on the network's behalf. Ensuing tweets, she says, reflected knowledge of details of intimate conversations and exchanges with family members and friends.

The case appears to build on a recent report by Salon's Matthew Sheffield. He reported that Fox News under Ailes allegedly paid for "sock puppet" accounts online to promote his private agendas, and also covertly supported the development of blogs that sexualized the network's female hosts and anchors. Tantaros' new suit names, among others, the head of a digital media consulting company who had a prominent role in Sheffield's account.

If it's true that sock puppets were paid to spread this information, there should be a paper trail detailing those payments that prosecutors can follow.