Abby Grossberg, who worked as a senior booking producer on Tucker Carlson’s prime time Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight, said in a lawsuit against the right-wing network that the work space assigned to the show was decorated with sexist imagery and that Carlson’s staff repeatedly and openly demeaned women. This follows numerous incidents of sexual harassment (and worse) at Fox stretching back over two decades.
Grossberg is suing Fox for sexual harassment she said she experienced there, and for allegedly setting her up to take a fall in its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for Fox’s spreading of false claims about the 2020 election. On March 20, The New York Times reported that Grossberg “says she and other women endured frank and open sexism from co-workers and superiors at the network, which has been dogged for years by lawsuits and allegations about sexual harassment by Fox executives and stars.” Fox had also filed a lawsuit to silence Grossberg, but the network withdrew that lawsuit the next day. As the Times reported, Grossberg’s lawsuit specified sexual harassment and a misogynistic work environment on Carlson’s highly-watched show:
Last year, she began working as a senior booking producer at “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” On her first full day, according to the lawsuit, Ms. Grossberg discovered that the show’s Manhattan work space was decorated with large pictures of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, then the House speaker, wearing a plunging swimsuit.
The next day, Justin Wells, Mr. Carlson’s top producer, called Ms. Grossberg into his office, she said, to ask whether Ms. Bartiromo was having a sexual relationship with the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy.
Mr. Carlson’s staff joked about Jews and freely deployed a vulgar term for women, according to the complaint.
Later that fall, it said, before an appearance on the show by Tudor Dixon, the Republican candidate for Michigan governor, Mr. Carlson’s staff held a mock debate about whether they would prefer to have sex with Ms. Dixon or her Democratic opponent, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Grossberg’s lawsuit details numerous other reported instances of sexual harassment and demeaning comments about women from Carlson’s staff, including a producer stating that a Republican member of Congress only got elected “because she fucked the person who had the job before her,” two producers saying that one of Grossberg’s female subordinates should sleep with a guest to get him booked, and a producer mocking the appearance of another female staffer.
As Grossberg also explained in her lawsuit, Fox in general and Carlson in particular have a long and troubled history with sexual harassment and abuse, which stretches back at least as far as 2002. The network’s founder and former president and CEO, Roger Ailes, was nothing less than a serial sexual predator that the network long covered up for.
Grossberg’s lawsuit also pointed to audio clips unearthed by Media Matters in which Carlson repeatedly excused or made light of child rape in comments on a radio program. Among those comments included Carlson saying: Underage marriage is not “the same thing exactly as pulling a child from a bus stop and sexually assaulting that child. ... The rapist in this case has made a lifelong commitment to live and take care of the person so it is a little different.” He also said criminal charges against former cult leader Warren Jeffs are “bullshit” because “arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 27-year-old is not the same as pulling a stranger off the street and raping her.” And Carlson also commented that a teacher who raped a 13-year-old took pressure off the victim’s female classmates because they wouldn’t have to sleep with him.
Carlson also pushed these sick views on Fox’s programming. In April 2014, Carlson defended a teacher who performed a lap dance on a 15-year-old student during class, calling criminal charges in this case “deranged” because “there’s no victim,” before saying “this isn’t a crime.” In May 2014, Carlson doubled down on this, saying: “Every man understands this; a 15 year-old boy looks at this as the greatest thing that ever happened.” And in June 2014, Carlson said of the case of a female teacher who raped a 16-year-old male student: “It’s ludicrous that we’re calling this a rape,” saying the student “went and tattled to the police” and concluding “what a whiny country this is.”
Carlson’s on-air misogyny has old roots, but has also continued in recent years. Last month, Carlson and a guest said that women aren’t biologically capable of being both employed and happy. In March 2021, Carlson faced backlash after insulting women who serve in the U.S. military while boasting about China’s supposed military superiority over the United States. And Carlson has repeatedly attacked women’s struggle for equality in America, calling it “a movement that is at war with nature.” Carlson’s yearslong fixation on demeaning women and denying calls for gender equity resulted in Media Matters labeling him as a “professional sexist” in 2017, a description that remains equally apt today.