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Fired Tucker Carlson producer: Misogyny and bullying 'trickles down from the top'

Tucker Carlson at the FOX Nation Patriot Awards on Nov. 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Fla.
Jason Koerner
Getty Images
Tucker Carlson at the FOX Nation Patriot Awards on Nov. 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Fla.

A former senior booker for Tucker Carlson Tonight sued Fox News for downplaying her claims of misogyny. That lawsuit names Carlson, among others, as responsible.

Allegations painting Fox News as an abusive workplace that excuses misogyny and anti-Semitism have been put on blast in the aftermath of star host Tucker Carlson's abrupt firing earlier this week.

Misogyny was "blatant" on Carlson's show and across Fox News, Abby Grossberg, a former senior booker for Tucker Carlson Tonight told NPR's Leila Fadel on Morning Edition.

"They don't care about telling the truth and they don't care about women," Grossberg said of Fox News. "All they care about are ratings and revenue."

Fox has not explained the reasoning behind Carlson's dismissal, which came a week after it settled a high-profile lawsuit with the election-tech company Dominion Voting Systems. The network also fired Carlson's executive producer, Justin Wells.

Both Carlson and Wells are named as individual defendants in an ongoing lawsuit against the network by Grossberg, who is suing the network for gender and religious discrimination, as well as unequal pay and failing to accommodate disabilities in federal court in New York.

In her original suit, Grossberg describes an environment at Fox News that "subjugates women based on vile sexist stereotypes, typecasts religious minorities and belittles their traditions, and demonstrates little to no regard for those suffering from mental illness."

Grossberg said her complaints about abuse were dismissed.

"I ultimately went and complained to one of my supervisors about the abuse and the bullying and the gaslighting and misogyny that I was putting up with at Tucker," Grossberg said. "And his response to me was, 'We're just following Tucker's tone. That's Tucker's tone.' And I do really believe that it all trickles down from the top."

When asked if she blames Carlson for the toxic environment, Grossberg said that she does. "It's his show," she said.

"Fox News engaged an independent outside counsel to immediately investigate the concerns raised by Ms. Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review," according to a statement from a Fox News spokesperson.

Grossberg filed her original suit in March; the network fired her days after.

Grossberg, who is Jewish, also alleges in her lawsuit that her and other Jewish colleagues were ridiculed for observing traditional holidays and that the network tokenized employees and gave them diversity awards.

At Carlson's show, male colleagues regularly made comments that were demeaning to women, according to Grossberg. "There were conversations that women who had tattoos or piercings or colored hair were disgusting," Grossberg told NPR's Leila Fadel.

Before joining the team, Grossberg said she thought Carlson's racist and misogynistic remarks were all for show.

"I was hopeful that maybe there was a kinder person behind the on-air persona," Grossberg told Fadel, "but unfortunately, it's quite the reverse."

"What's being said in the office by his team and also his lieutenants who are carrying out his orders is very consistent with what ends up on the air and what the public sees," said Grossberg.

In a brief statement issued Monday morning, the network announced it had "agreed to part ways" with Carlson, who had been widely considered to be the face of the Fox News brand.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his firing, Carlson posted a vague two-minute video to Twitter on Wednesday night.

"True things prevail," he said in the video. "Where can you still find Americans saying true things? There aren't many places left, but there are some, and that's enough. As long as you can hear the words, there is hope. See you soon."

In response to a question about Grossberg's allegations, Carlson told NPR, "I know nothing about her. I never met her." Indeed, Grossberg told NPR's Leila Fadel that the show staff was based in New York, but Carlson mostly worked from Maine or Florida, "where he doesn't have to take accountability for what he says on air or what goes on in the office. And I think that's very deliberate. And he has three men that carry out his orders and make sure that we do follow."

Grossberg said she was "in disbelief" when she heard that Carlson had been fired.

"Obviously I'm at the center of this with two suits that he's named in. And I also endured a very abusive atmosphere in his office. So feelings were mixed. It went from being very excited to, you know, that there was some justice to also not wanting anybody to be hurt that was there that had lost their jobs," she said.

Grossberg says Fox attorneys pressured her to lie in Dominion case

In a separate suit filed in Delaware, Grossberg is suing the network and individual attorneys for allegedly setting her up to take the blame, along with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, for broadcasting the falsehoods about election fraud in 2020 that were at the heart of Dominion's defamation case against Fox.

Grossberg alleges that Fox attorneys pressured her to lie under oath in order to downplay the misogyny she says is rampant at Fox News.

"Her allegations in connection with the Dominion case are baseless and we will continue to vigorously defend Fox against her unmeritorious legal claims which are riddled with false allegations against the network and our employees," according to the statement from a Fox News spokesperson.

Though Fox settled the suit with Dominion earlier this month, paying it $787.5 million to avert a trial, there's more still to come.

Another voting tech company, Smartmatic, which is headquartered in London, has also sued Fox News for defamation over election fraud lies. It is seeking $2.7 billion in damages.

Lawyers for Smartmatic have subpoenaed Grossberg in that case.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mary Yang
Mary Yang is an intern on the Business Desk where she covers technology, media, labor and the economy. She comes to NPR from Foreign Policy where she covered the beginning of Russia's war in Ukraine and built a beat on Southeast Asia, Asia and the Pacific Islands.