And just like that … producer Abby Grossberg’s defamation suit against Fox News has settled for $12 million, according to the New York Times, which broke the news. The agreement was memorialized in a filing in the Southern District of New York noting Grossberg’s voluntary dismissal of her claims, with prejudice.
It’s a relatively small settlement, particularly compared to the whopping $787 million check Fox just wrote to Dominion Voting Systems. And it’s not entirely clear why they didn’t just give it to her back in March before she put all Tucker Carlson’s ish on main with her complaint. In the event, Grossberg described a classic hostile work environment, rife with sexism and bigotry.
[Senior Executive Producer Justin] Wells and [Managing Editor Alexander] McCaskill often remarked that [a female employee], a TCT Booker who reported to Ms. Grossberg, should use her sex appeal to the TCT team’s advantage, such as by “sleep[ing] with Elon Musk to get [an] interview” and that she could be his “next wife.” [The employee] herself, likely feeling as if she needed to “fit in” and add commentary matching her misogynist work environment, would respond that men “masturbated” to her.
Grossberg also alleged misconduct by Fox’s lawyers, whom she claimed encouraged her to shade the truth and lie by omission in her deposition with Dominion’s lawyers. Moreover, she claimed that they refused to allow her to amend the transcript of her testimony after the fact, in violation of Delaware’s rules of civil procedure.
It’s not clear whether that’s why Fox and its counsel absolutely flipped their shit when she threatened to sue. But before she and her attorney Parisis G. Filippatos could docket her claim, lawyers for Fox News raced into New York state court seeking a TRO to block her divulging information about the deposition, claiming that it would violate attorney-client privilege. And then, having failed to head her off in advance, Fox filed an emergency motion to seal the relevant portions of Grossberg’s federal complaint after the fact. US District Judge Jesse Furman waved them off, noting that “the cat is now firmly out of the bag; given that the Complaint is widely and publicly accessible, the appropriate remedy for any improper disclosure of privileged and confidential communications is not sealing.”
Since Grossberg filed, Fox settled with Dominion and exiled Carlson to wander the frozen wasteland of Twitter. Her suit, and the damaging recordings she’s release to the media since then, were reportedly a factor in both of the above. But that doesn’t explain why they would ever let it get this far when the plaintiff could be made to go away for what is essentially a rounding error for the network.
Carlson has now been replaced by Jesse Watters, who once laughed on air about the time he let the air out of his wife’s tires so she’d have to accept a ride from him. At the time, he was married, and she was a colleague more than a decade younger than him.
Maybe Fox should keep that settlement checkbook handy.
Grossberg v. Fox Corp [Docket via Court Listener]