Ex-Fox News producer who sued network claims
Washington — A former Fox News producer who filed a pair of lawsuits against the network is leveling new accusations against it: she claims she was unlawfully fired as an act of retaliation and received “impermissible coaching and coercion” by Fox News attorneys before she provided deposition testimony as part of a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed against the company.
In amended filings in the lawsuits submitted in federal court in New York and Delaware state court, Abby Grossberg further detailed allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation by Fox News against female employees, capped by her firing on March 24.
Grossberg, who worked on Maria Bartiromo’s Sunday morning show and then on Tucker Carlson’s nightly primetime broadcast, also included corrections to her Sept. 14 deposition as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox.
Grossberg claimed that she did not receive a copy of her deposition transcript until early March, although she had requested it at least six times and then was given days to submit an errata sheet, which lists a witness’s changes to his or her testimony. The truncated timeline denied “her sufficient time to review the transcript as she was entitled to 30 days to review under” state rules, her lawyers wrote in the latest filing in Delaware Superior Court.
In her errata sheet, Grossberg lists as the reason for numerous changes “impermissible coaching and coercion by Fox attorneys,” and said “I felt that I had to do everything possible to avoid becoming the ‘star witness’ for Dominion or else I would be seriously jeopardizing my career at Fox News and would be subjected to worse terms and conditions of employment than offered to make employees as I understood it.”
Among the responses she corrected was one about whether she trusts producers at Fox. After Grossberg originally answered “yes,” she changed it to “No, I don’t trust all of producers at Fox.”
“If asked to elaborate: They’re activists, not journalists and impose their political agendas on the programming,” Grossberg continued. “I’ve also caught someone I worked with plagiarizing, which deteriorated my trust in them.”
Grossberg also altered answers from her deposition about show ratings to note that “ratings are discussed on a constant basis at Fox News,” and that Fox employees “constantly note how we rated compared to other shows and by how much as this was what drove our employer’s every decision seemingly.”
In its defamation lawsuit against Fox News, Dominion has alleged that network executives and hosts knowingly aired false claims about the company after the 2020 presidential election in an effort to boost its ratings.
Grossberg filed her two lawsuits against Fox last week, which alleged network lawyers “coerced, intimidated and misinformed” her while helping her prepare to give deposition testimony. She claims Fox News aimed to shift responsibility for the alleged defamation against Dominion away from the “mostly male higher-ups” and onto Grossberg and Bartiromo.
She also claimed that she was “isolated, overworked, undervalued, denied opportunities for promotion and generally treated significantly worse than her male counterparts, even when those men were less qualified than her.”
Grossberg began working at Fox News in 2019, after working for a number of other networks, including CBS News. She was hired as a senior booking producer on Bartiromo’s Sunday morning show and then became head of booking for Carlson’s primetime program.
But her employment with Fox News ended Friday, when she was terminated after the network “realized that it could not stop Ms. Grossberg from speaking her truth to the world in her immutable ‘public filings’ – either by intimidation, obfuscation, or baseless attempts at judicial intervention,” her attorneys Parisis G. Filippatos and Tanvir Rahman wrote in their federal court filing.
A spokesperson for Fox News said in a statement that “like most organizations, FOX News Media’s attorneys engage in privileged communications with our employees as necessary to provide legal advice,” and its attorneys advised Grossberg last week that “while she was free to file whatever legal claims she wished, she was in possession of our privileged information and was not authorized to disclose it publicly.”
“We were clear that if she violated our instructions, Fox would take appropriate action including termination. Ms. Grossberg ignored these communications and chose to file her complaint without taking any steps to protect those portions containing Fox’s privileged information,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to vigorously defend Fox against Ms. Grossberg’s unmeritorious legal claims, which are riddled with false allegations against Fox and our employees.”
In her lawsuit against Fox, Grossberg alleged that while working on Carlson’s show, male members of staff made sexist and demeaning comments, and she was harassed based on her Jewish faith by Carlson’s senior producer, Alexander McCaskill.
Her amended complaint filed in federal district court in New York includes one instance from late February in which McCaskill was shown a video of a woman, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, doing CrossFit and called her a “eunuch.”
Grossberg also criticized Carlson’s own language in corrections to her deposition, writing that his comments offended her, but she “did not want to antagonize the host I was working for, who was very powerful at the network.”
She added that she “had to resign myself to knowing that I would have [to] endure abhorrent discrimination and misogynistic remarks on a regular basis for quite some time simply to move ahead at the network.”
Grossberg also includes new details about her sessions with Fox attorneys preparing her for her deposition.
During one episode, Grossberg said she was shown two text exchanges from Nov. 8, 2020, and Nov. 9, 2020, to review. While the messages indicated a segment with Rudy Giuliani, former President Donald Trump’s lawyer after the 2020 election, had been pre-taped, allowing for editing before it aired, Grossberg claimed Fox News attorneys “coached” her to say it was “live to tape,” implying it couldn’t have been edited before airing. Giuliani made baseless claims the 2020 election was rife with widespread voter fraud during the segment, according to the filings.
“The Fox News Attorneys knew full well, however, that the implication they were trying to bully Ms. Grossberg to weave into her testimony was materially misleading,” her amended complaint states. “Ms. Grossberg felt frightened and confused as the Fox News Attorneys tried to gaslight her.”
Grossberg provided more information about Giuliani’s presence on the network in her changes to her deposition testimony, writing that David Clark, Fox News senior vice president of weekend news programming, told her in a text message that Giuliani could remain in the show lineup because he had been “cleared on a corporate level to keep appearing on TV unfiltered.”
She said Clark’s “only concern” was that Giuliani might criticize Fox News for correctly calling the state of Arizona for President Biden, which sparked fierce backlash within the network from executives and some of its anchors. Fox News was the first network to declare Mr. Biden had won Arizona, effectively ensuring he would defeat Trump for the presidency.
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