Fox Moves To Redact Parts Of Discrimination Complaint That Make Their Lawyers Look Hella Shady
Can you get a judicial order to put the toothpaste back in the tube? Fox News is aiming to find out.
Yesterday, the company filed a motion to seal portions of the employment discrimination case filed on Monday by Abby Grossberg, a former booker for Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo. Grossberg alleges widespread sex discrimination at the network, as well as a a hostile work environment where derogatory comments about women and Jews was pervasive. But it's allegations about conduct by Fox's lawyers as they prepared Grossberg to be deposed in the $1.6 billion Dominion defamation suit which have the network flipping out.
In her complaint, Grossberg describes conduct which is perilously close to suborning false testimony. For instance:
Ms. Grossberg also left the deposition preparation sessions with the distinct impression and understanding that it was in her clear best interests to respond to questions with the generic, "I do not recall" whenever she had the opportunity.
Ms. Grossberg left the deposition preparation sessions without knowing that by giving such false/misleading and evasive answers like the ones Fox's legal team reacted to positively to during the prep sessions, she not only opened herself up to civil and criminal liability for perjury, but was subtly shifting all responsibility for the alleged defamation against Dominion onto her shoulders, and by implication, those of her trusted female colleague, Ms. Bartiromo, rather than the mostly male higher ups at Fox News who endorsed the repeated coverage of the lies against the Dominion.
Grossberg alleges that Fox's lawyers encouraged her to deflect blame away from her male colleagues and the male hosts and onto herself and Maria Bartiromo, whom management described as "menopausal," "hysterical," and a "diva." The complaint characterizes this as part of a pattern of discrimination the plaintiff encountered and adds that Grossberg was discouraged from telling Dominion's lawyers that Bartiromo lacked sufficient staff to properly read all the emails from Dominion warning them not to put Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani on the air to slander the voting machine company.
For its part, Fox has been trying to head off this complaint since before it was filed. On Monday, Fox sought a TRO in New York state court blocking Grossberg from disclosing anything about her communications with its lawyers. On Tuesday, after Grossberg filed her federal case, it withdrew the state complaint. Then Wednesday, it filed the instant motion to seal, more or less pasting in the language from the withdrawn TRO.
Fox argues the Grossberg "met with inside and outside counsel for Fox News on several occasions to provide Fox News' attorneys with information to assist in their provision of legal advice to Fox News and their defense of the case, as well as to prepare for Ms. Grossberg's deposition."
"These sessions were aimed at further developing a legal strategy and defense to the claims alleged against Fox News in the Dominion Lawsuit and ultimately providing Fox News with legal advice," they continue, adding that the plaintiff "publicly filed privileged and confidential information belonging to Fox News without Fox News' consent."
So the defendant would like to seal portions of the complaint which have already been on the public docket for almost three days now. Perhaps this is in preparation for an eventual breach of contract counterclaim against Grossberg, which might go some way to inducing her to settle. But if the aim is to actually hide this information from Dominion, that ship has probably sailed. But thanks for letting the rest of us know that paragraphs 135-140, 143, 145, 146, 149-151, 155- 156, 160-162, and 312 are where the juicy stuff is.
Grossberg v. Fox Corp [Docket via Court Listener]
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics and appears on the Opening Arguments podcast.