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Fox News, producer sue each other over Dominion Voting Systems

By Sarah May
|
March 21, 2023

Amid an ongoing legal battle between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems over the network's reporting in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election and then-President Donald Trump's fraud claims, a new twist emerged on Monday when a Fox News producer and the outlet filed suit against one another related to depositions in the original litigation, as The Hill reports.

The producer at issue, Abby Grossberg, claims – among other things – that she was coached in a “coercive and intimidating manner” before providing deposition testimony on behalf of the network in order to protect management and certain high profile on-air personalities.

Grossberg files suit

In her complaint, Grossberg, whose time at Fox News includes work on shows hosted by Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo, contends that network attorneys guided – and even intimidated – her into providing misleading deposition testimony in Dominion's $1.6 billion defamation case against her employer, as NBC News explains.

Pleadings filed in the case declare, “Ms. Grossberg left the deposition preparation sessions without knowing that by giving such false/misleading and evasive answers like the ones Fox's legal team reacted to positively during the prep sessions, she not only opened herself up to civil and criminal liability for perjury but was subtly shifting all responsibility for the alleged defamation against Dominion onto her shoulders....”

In addition, according to the complaint, Fox's coaching of Grossberg caused her to implicitly shift blame for the supposed defamation of Dominion to “her trusted female colleague, Ms. Bartiromo, rather than the mostly male higher ups at Fox News who endorsed the repeated coverage of the lies against Dominion.”

In addition, Grossberg claims that Fox News was a “toxic workplace” characterized by overt misogyny in which 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.”

Network fires back

The network took issue with Grossberg's contentions in statement issued after her suit was filed, saying, “Fox News Media engaged an independent outside counsel to immediately investigate the concerns raised by Ms. Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review.”

“Her allegations in connection with the Dominion case are baseless and we will vigorously defend Fox against all of her claims,” the statement added.

Also in response to Grossberg's lawsuit, Fox News filed a complaint of its own in an effort to block the claims she leveled against the company, as NBC News further notes, seeking a temporary restraining order that would prevent her from disclosing certain information.

“Ms. Grossberg has threatened to disclose Fox's attorney-client privileged information and we filed a temporary restraining order to protect our rights,” said Irena Briganti, senior executive vice president of corporate communications for Fox News Media.

War of words escalates

According to Grossberg lawyer Parisis Filippatos, his client was placed on administrative leave by the network once her plans to file suit were brought to the attention of executives.

Speaking to the Daily Beast after the network's restraining order request was filed, Filippatos said, “Having just received and read Fox News' frivolous attempt to silence Abby Grossberg, we are happy that the full story regarding her case will now be heard by three separate courts in each of which we are confident she will receive the justice she deserves and certainly the fair treatment which she hasn't experienced thus far from her employer Fox News.”

“Ms. Grossberg has refused to be silenced and bullied by Fox News, after having to endure for years what she alleges was a workplace rampant with sexism and misogyny, where men were routinely promoted over, paid more, and provided far more resources and staff than more qualified women both in front of and behind the camera,” Filippatos and fellow Grossberg attorney Tanvir Rahman declared.

“Our firm is committed to vindicating Fox's egregious violation of Ms. Grossberg's rights,” the duo vowed.

Defamation case rolls on

The litigation that spurred Grossman's complaint has yielded a series of explosive details, much of which was contained in a brief in support of a summary judgment motion submitted by Dominion last month, as the Associated Press has noted.

The company alleges that Fox News on-air personalities knowingly touted false allegations that it had engaged in fraudulent alteration of vote counts and that the network gave an open forum for guests to do the same, citing text exchanges between the likes of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham in support of those contentions, as The Hill reported.

Fox News has attempted – unsuccessfully thus far – to have the case against the network dismissed based on First Amendment grounds, arguing that Dominion has taken an “extreme, unsupported view of defamation law that would prevent journalists from basic reporting” and endeavoring to “publicly smear Fox for covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting president of the United States.”

It remains to be seen whether and to what extent Grossberg's claims might impact the ongoing defamation litigation between her employer and Dominion, but in the meantime, the allegations of workplace discrimination that have already made it into the public sphere have necessarily put network executives on the defensive.