The settlement with a former producer, Abby Grossberg, is the latest development in a series of legal battles involving Fox.
By guest author Katie Robertson from the New York Times. Katie Robertson is a media reporter. She previously worked as an editor and reporter at Bloomberg and News Corporation
June 30, 2023
Fox News has agreed to pay USD 12 million to Abby Grossberg, a former Fox News producer who had accused the network of operating a hostile and discriminatory workplace and of coercing her into providing false testimony in a deposition.
Parisis G. Filippatos, a lawyer for Ms. Grossberg, said the settlement concluded all of Ms. Grossberg’s claims against Fox and the people she had named in her complaints, which included the former host Tucker Carlson and some of his producers.
Ms. Grossberg’s legal team filed a request in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday to dismiss a remaining lawsuit against Fox in light of the settlement.
Ms. Grossberg said in a statement on Friday that she stood by her allegations, but she was “heartened that Fox News has taken me and my legal claims seriously.”
“I am hopeful, based on our discussions with Fox News today, that this resolution represents a positive step by the network regarding its treatment of women and minorities in the workplace,” she said.
Fox News had previously disputed Ms. Grossberg’s claims. A spokeswoman for the network said in a statement on Friday: “We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter without further litigation.”
Justin Wells, a former senior executive producer for Mr. Carlson, who was named in a complaint, said in a post on Twitter: “We deny Ms. Grossberg’s claims and allegations against Tucker Carlson and his team. Nevertheless, we are glad that Fox has settled this matter and that all sides can move forward.”
The settlement with Ms. Grossberg is the latest development in a series of legal battles involving Fox. In April, the company agreed to pay Dominion Voting Systems USD 787.5 million, in what is believed to be the biggest settlement figure in a defamation case. Days later, Fox took Mr. Carlson, its most popular host, off the air after the company’s leadership concluded he was more of a problem than an asset and had to go.
Fox faces a second defamation case by another voting technology company. Smartmatic, like Dominion, says Fox knowingly spread false information about its products, baselessly claiming that they contributed to election fraud in 2020.
The accusations against Fox by Ms. Grossberg, 42, sprang partly from the Dominion case. In March, she filed a lawsuit in Delaware, claiming that Fox coerced her into lying in sworn testimony she gave in the case. Ms. Grossberg amended her witness testimony before the Dominion trial, presenting another hurdle for Fox’s legal team, which had already been dealt a series of blows in pretrial rulings.
Ms. Grossberg also filed a separate lawsuit in New York that accused Fox and Mr. Carlson of allowing a culture of rampant misogyny. She said she had been subjected to sexist and antisemitic harassment during her time as the head of booking on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Fox fired Ms. Grossberg four days after she filed the two lawsuits, saying in a statement at the time that she had disclosed privileged information about the Dominion case. She withdrew the Delaware suit in May, but her lawyer said at the time that they planned to refile in New York.
Ms. Grossberg joined Fox News in 2019 as a senior producer for the host Maria Bartiromo. In August 2022, she moved to Mr. Carlson’s team as the head of booking.
In her lawsuit, Ms. Grossberg said she found a workplace tainted by misogyny and harassment, where male producers were openly sexist to her and her co-workers, made crude jokes and had decorated the space with photos of Nancy Pelosi, then the House speaker, in a swimsuit showing cleavage.
Ms. Grossberg never met Mr. Carlson, who worked mostly from his homes in Florida and Maine, but she corresponded with him frequently over email, text and video calls. Mr. Carlson’s staff in New York was led by Mr. Wells, the senior executive producer. (Mr. Wells was fired by Fox in April.)
After filing her lawsuits, Ms. Grossberg drip-fed audio recordings from her time at Fox to other media organizations. The recordings showed, among other things, Mr. Carlson’s immense influence on the Republican Party; an admission by Rudolph W. Giuliani, lawyer to former President Donald J. Trump, that he didn’t have evidence of voter fraud; and discussions between Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ms. Bartiromo about his attempts to audit the 2020 election results.
Mr. Filippatos, the lawyer for Ms. Grossberg, confirmed that he had been contacted by the office of the special counsel investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and that he and his client were cooperating. At least 90 tapes had been retrieved, and Ms. Grossberg’s legal team was forensically analyzing all of Ms. Grossberg’s devices in case there were any additional recordings, Mr. Filippatos said.
Ms. Grossberg said she would not comment further on her accusations against Fox or her time at the company, but would “continue to speak out on issues and causes that I believe in, including journalism, equality, dignity and respect in the workplace.”
A version of this article appears in print on July 1, 2023, Section B, Page 5 of the New York edition with the headline: Fox News Agrees to Pay Ex-Producer USD 12 Million.