- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fox News deployed “digital weapons” against one of its former anchors, Andrea Tantaros, in order to intimidate her from coming forward with sexual harassment allegations against the company last August, her attorneys claimed in federal court Monday.

While a judge ultimately rejected the sexual harassment suit in lieu of private arbitration, attorneys for Ms. Tantaros now claim Fox News and its executives began retaliating against the former co-host of “The Five” starting shortly before she went public with the claims last summer.

Fox News, according to the lawsuit, “subjected Ms. Tantaros to illegal electronic surveillance and computer hacking, and used that information … to intimidate, terrorize and crush her career through an endless stream of lewd, offensive and career-damaging social media posts, blog entries and commentaries.”

An unidentified “Fox News operative” breached Ms. Tantaro’s personal computer last year and installed “key-logging and other surveillance software on it,” the lawsuit alleges, “so that she could be spied upon.” Fox then used information gained through the alleged eavesdropping to subtly harass Ms. Tantaros over social media with so-called “sock puppet” accounts, according to the lawsuit.

Ms. Tantaro allegedly received several unsolicited tweets from the accounts alluding to previous conversations she had privately with friends and family in order to “cryptically let her know she was under surveillance,” according to the lawsuit.

In one instance cited by her attorneys, Ms. Tantaros said she was on the phone speaking to her brother’s children while they were at Disneyland when she suddenly received a tweet from one of the sock accounts showing two children being hugged by Mickey Mouse.

“The criminal conduct described in this complaint is both highly complex and extremely high-tech — utilizing digital tools and computer/telephony ‘hacking,’ allied media, social media and surreptitious surveillance as replacements for and enhancements to traditional work-place retaliation, extortion, physical threats and professional/career assassination,” her attorneys wrote.

Fox News flatly denied the allegations in a statement Monday, calling the claims “a flimsy pretext to keep Ms. Tantaros and her sexual harassment claims in the public eye after the State Supreme Court directed her to bring them in arbitration.”

Ms. Tantaros is seeking compensatory damages and punitive damages as well as court fees and costs. Defendants also include its former Fox President Roger Ailes, co-president Bill Shine, media relations chief Irena Briganti and Peter Snyder, a social media strategist utilized by Mr. Ailes, according to the lawsuit.

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