Fox News used 'sock puppet' fake social media accounts to intimidate female host, Andrea Tantaros lawsuit claims

Tantaros claims to have forensic evidence that her computer was not hacked remotely but manually broken into by a 'Fox News operative'

Former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros in 2011
Former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros in 2011

In a new lawsuit filed in New York, former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros, who is suing the network for alleged sexual harassment by Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes, has claimed that it used "digital weapons" to spy, monitor and intimidate her.

The lawsuit claims that Bill Shine, co-president of Fox News, and Irena Briganti, Fox News executive, retaliated against her allegations through "illegal electronic surveillance,” by hacking her personal computer and with the use of so-called “sock puppet” stalking social media accounts.

“Quite simply, Ms. Tantaros’ refusal to take the more than $1 million offered to her so that she would remain silent made her an existential threat to Fox News’ senior management,” the lawsuit states.

Variety broke the story, detailing the lawsuit's social media claims:

'Her lawsuits cites several examples. In early June of 2016, she had been talking on the phone with a close friend who had been bitten by a poisonous scorpion. Then, one of the “sock puppet” accounts sent a tweet with an advertisement for a DVD of the 1957 movie “The Black Scorpion.”

'On June 19, 2016, the day after Tantaros and her mother spoke about plans for the third anniversary of the death of her brother, one of the sock puppet accounts sent the tweet: “Purple Memorial … for Daniel Tantaros, R.I.P. Daniel..”

'In another instance she cited, she was talking to her other brother’s children during a trip to Disneyland, when there was a tweet from an account “showing two children being hugged by Micky [sic] Mouse with the message: ‘Mickey Mouse and ‘new friends’…”

'Her lawsuit claims to have “overwhelming evidence” of the involvement of Fox News operatives in the surveillance of her email and phone calls and then the use of “sock puppet” social media accounts to “cryptically let her know she was under surveillance.”'

Tantaros claims to have forensic evidence that her computer was not hacked remotely but manually broken into by a "Fox News operative".

Her sexual harassment claims, filed in August 2016, have not yet been made public.

Update: FOX News outside Counsel Dechert, LLP issued the following statement:

“Fox News and its executives flatly deny that they conducted any electronic surveillance of Ms. Tantaros. They have no knowledge of the anonymous or pseudonymous tweets described in her complaint. This lawsuit is 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.”

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