Fox News producer sues network, alleging scapegoating in defamation lawsuit Abby Grossberg says she was misled by Fox lawyers who prepared her to testify in the defamation lawsuit. Fox News says she's revealed confidential information and has sued her.

Producer sues Fox News, alleging she's being set up for blame in $1.6 billion suit

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A $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News is turning the network on its head. The lawsuit involves lies that Fox News broadcast following the 2020 presidential election. A senior producer and key witness in that case has now also sued Fox. She says Fox is trying to scapegoat her and that its lawyers misled her when they prepared her to testify under oath. And Fox initially sued her right back, accusing her of releasing confidential information. For more, we turn now to NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Hey, David.


CHANG: Wow. The drama keeps going. OK, so who is this producer and why is she so pivotal in this defamation lawsuit against Fox?

FOLKENFLIK: So her name is Abby Grossberg. She's a senior producer on Tucker Carlson's big show in prime time, but back in November 2020, at the time of the elections and the subsequent weeks, she was producer for Maria Bartiromo and a booker. You know, she was part of this - or this exchange that happened when Sidney Powell, who, as you may remember, went on Fox to promote these completely baseless claims of election fraud that supposedly cheated then-President Trump of the election. Sidney Powell forwarded this memo to Maria Bartiromo that said, you know, this is the basis of all these allegations that were entirely unsubstantiated, even in the memo, and that even the memo's author called whack-a-doodle. In sworn statements in response to questions under oath from lawyers for the Dominion Voting Systems, which has this huge defamation case against Fox, Abby Grossberg said it wasn't credible. She also said the network had no responsibility to correct falsehoods that were promoted on the air, like these election lies. This is pretty damning because the suit brought by Dominion accuses Fox of spreading damaging lies it knew to be false.

CHANG: Right. OK, and Grossberg now says Fox's lawyers misled her. Exactly how?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, she was questioned under oath back in September, and she prepped, according to her account in her lawsuit, hard. She says Fox's lawyers and legal team made her believe she should give evasive answers under oath and that her colleagues, after her sworn testimony, celebrated the fact she had done so, that she had evaded the questions. She says male colleagues were given the opportunity to review and correct their transcriptions and depositions soon after questioning. She said she was celebrated basically for protecting, for example, Tucker Carlson when he was being questioned about how he talked about women in what turned out to be some pretty vile and degrading terms.

CHANG: And what does Fox say in response to the allegations?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, it's pretty interesting. You know, I should note that Grossberg's lawsuit is more broadly and more specifically about a culture of rampant sexism at Fox, but with the sexism that she says she and Maria Bartiromo and others experienced as women there, but also the sort of bro fraternity created on Tucker Carlson's show based on gender and on religion. Fox pushes against - back against all of this. It says it investigated her concerns about workplace harassment, about questions of inequity and that she complained after a critical performance review. It also calls her allegations against the - about the law firm baseless. But, you know, there's a historical echo here about Fox being sued in the past by female staffers and stars over sexual harassment. So that's something that Fox has thought was long buried and is coming back.

CHANG: That is NPR's David Folkenflik. Thank you, David.


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