Prosecutors may be probing Fox News over Ailes sexual harassment claims

Federal prosecutors may be investigating whether Fox News and its parent company 21st Century Fox (FOXA) broke securities laws by failing to tell shareholders about company money that former Fox News President Roger Ailes allegedly spent to keep sexual-harassment claims quiet, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lawyer Judd Burstein, who is representing Tantaros, said his client had received a grand-jury subpoena from federal prosecutors in NY investigating sexual harassment allegations directed at Ailes. Attorney Judd Burstein said in a hearing that another client had been subpoenaed as part of the investigation, which he described as led by federal prosecutors' securities unit and relating to sexual harassment issues, Bloomberg reported.

Tantaros, who used to be a co-host of the afternoon show The Five, sued Fox and Ailes in August claiming that the network acts as a defender of family values while operating like "sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult".

On Wednesday afternoon, a Fox News spokesperson acknowledged that Fox News had been in communication with the U.S. Attorney's office but did not specify if the network was the subject of the investigation.

At a hearing in NY to determine whether arbitration was warranted regarding former Fox News personality Andrea Tantaros' $50 million lawsuit against network executives, attorney Judd Burstein said he had been served a federal subpoena.

"Apparently one of Mr. Burstein's other clients has received a subpoena", the spokeswoman said. "We have and will continue to cooperate on all inquiries with any interested authorities".

Mr Jim Margolin, a spokesman for US Attorney Preet Bharara in NY, declined to comment. At that time, veteran New York Magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman noted that the network had inked settlements with at least four women since the departure of Ailes.

In her memoir "Settle for More", recently departed Fox News star Megyn Kelly details how Ailes sexually harassed her not long after she started with the network in the mid-2000s. The former chairman resigned from the network in July 2016 after a flurry of sexual harassment allegations, including another lawsuit from former Fox host Gretchen Carlson.

The revelation came during a hearing in which Justice David Cohen ruled Tantaros must litigate her claims of sexual harassment and other violations against Fox in arbitration, rather than in court.

There have been a number of stories of confidential settlements made with a number of former Fox News female employees (on and off air) - with sums not made public.

In court filings, Fox News slammed Tantaros, saying she "is not a victim; she is an opportunist".

  • Larry Hoffman