A former producer at Fox News is becoming the network’s newest headache as the conservative media organisation reels from embarassing revelations about the network’s embrace of Donald Trump’s nonsense election fraud conspiracies in the wake of the 2020 election.
Abby Grossberg is now on somewhat of a media tour after being fired from the network; the former producer for Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo lost her job after filing a lawsuit against her bosses, alleging that the company coerced her into watering down her testimony given as part of Dominion Voting Systems’s $1.6bn lawsuit against the channel.
Ms Grossberg recently changed her testimony in the Dominion case in two ways, both of which indicate that her thoughts about the network are much more critical than her original testimony indicated. Her new testimony reveals that she believed Bartiromo was not living up to her journalistic responsibilities by allowing guests to spread false claims about the 2020 election on her show without pushback; she also testified that she did not trust all of Fox’s producers because she views many as activists rather than journalists.
She also separately testified that the network was home to rampant sexism, where executives referred to her former boss Bartiromo as a “crazy b****” and “menopausal”.
In an interview with NBC News, Ms Grossberg says lawyers for the network pressured her to be more guarded and less candid with her testimony about network executives.
“I was flat out told, 'You do not want to be the star witness in this case,' when I was very truthful and forthcoming,” she said. “I realised that the answers that they wanted me to say were putting me in a very vulnerable position to be the company scapegoat.”
“It felt awful. I mean it felt terrible because I knew that I was bullied, intimidated, and coerced into saying that just to keep my job and stay at the company,” she said.
She also said in the new interview that Fox executives ceased or backed off efforts to control which guests were allowed on the network’s primetime shows in the weeks and months after the 2020 election, a claim that could undermine the network’s efforts to argue that it was properly vetting guests who appeared on the network as credible sources.
“All of a sudden, it was caution to the wind,” she said. “There was no one to be found. And these were the individuals that were ultimately responsible for the programming at the network.”
Fox strongly denied her claims in a statement to The Independent.
“The assertion that Ms Grossberg was coached or intimidated into being dishonest during her Dominion deposition is patently false. We will continue to vigorously defend Fox against her unmeritorious legal claims, which are riddled with false allegations against the network and our employees,” said a network spokesperson.
“Like most organizations, FOX News Media’s attorneys engage in privileged communications with our employees as necessary to provide legal advice. Our attorneys advised Ms. Grossberg that, while she was free to file whatever legal claims she wished, she was in possession of our privileged information and was not authorized to disclose it publicly,” they continued. “We were clear that if she violated our instructions, Fox would take appropriate action including termination. Ms. Grossberg ignored these communications and chose to file her complaint without taking any steps to protect those portions containing Fox's privileged information.”
Dominion’s massive lawsuit against the network has yet to lead to an actual judgment of any kind against Fox or its executives, but that doesn’t mean the company is remaining unscathed in the fight so far.
Revelations about private conversations which prominent hosts and other employees at Fox were having in the days following the election sharply contradict the pro-Trump loyalist facade that many of those same people have erected since the former president lost the 2020 race and launched a campaign to overturn the results. Fox figures like Tucker Carlson were revealed to have condemned the former president and members of his inner circle with scathing language as they presented the opposite on television.
The network’s owner Rupert Murdoch even was forced to testify and admitted under oath that the network’s opinion hosts endorsed claims on television that they were privately in some cases admitting to be false.