Fox News Calls Ex-Host's `Sockpuppet' Harassment Suit a Hoax

(Bloomberg) -- Fox News struck back at former host Andrea Tantaros and her lawyer, telling a judge her claims the network carried out a campaign of harassment, intimidation and electronic surveillance is “an outright hoax.”

The company asked a Manhattan federal judge Wednesday to throw out Tantaros’s suit, require her to pay the network’s legal fees and refer her attorney to a lawyer disciplinary committee.

Fox News Calls Ex-Host's `Sockpuppet' Harassment Suit a Hoax

Andrea Tantaros

Photographer: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Tantaros alleged in her complaint last month that Fox News operatives broke into her personal computer, planted key-logging and other surveillance software on it and then used the information “to intimidate, terrorize and crush her career through an endless stream of lewd, offensive and career-damaging social media posts, blog entries and commentary.”

Her lawyer, Judd Burstein, “falsely accuses accuses Fox News of engaging in criminal conduct," the network said in a court filing. “This sensational allegation, broadcast in bold-faced type, was made solely to generate negative headlines for, and inflict maximum damage on, Fox News."

Tantaros claimed the 21st Century Fox Inc. unit used “sockpuppet” accounts to post and retweet damaging information in a way to make it look like organic social-media activity. Sockpuppets refer to fake online identities created by individuals or companies to promote opinions or causes, while appearing to act independently.

Burstein called the Fox News court filing “a frivolous motion" and said it includes new information that will help prove Tantaros’s claims.

“To me this was an incredible case of self-immolation," he said in a phone interview. “They essentially made my case for me."

Tantaros filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against Fox News last year, in which she claimed the network operated like a “sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult.” Her case was referred to arbitration.

The case is Tantaros v. Fox News LLC, 17-cv-02958, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).