A few hours ago, I posted that federal prosecutors have been investigating Fox News, probably because it has concealed from its shareholders payments to settle sexual harassment lawsuits. Later reporting indicates that Fox is also being investigated for conducting illegal surveillance and phone hacking of its employees.
In a series of tweets, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik seems to confirm that the investigation does indeed center on whether Fox skirted SEC rules.
7/ Securities inquiry appears to focus on payments made by Fox News to women who accused fmr Fox News chairman Ailes of sexual harassment— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) February 15, 2017
7a/ Fox has now paid many millions of dollars to settle allegations of multiple women that Ailes harassed them (all of which he denies)— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) February 15, 2017
But Folkenflik also notes that attorney Judd Burstein, who represents Andrea Tantaros in her lawsuit against Fox News and who has received a subpoena in the investigation, discussed the matter with NPR's Nick Fountain. Apparently, part of the federal investigation centers on illegal surveillance, too. And that is more than a little reminiscent of the News Corporation phone hacking scandal in the U.K.
4a/ Outside courtroom, Burstein told NPR's @nickfountain he spoke to prosecutors from USAtty for Southern Dist NY's securities fraud unit— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) February 15, 2017
5/ Each claim - the alleged illegal surveillance & securities fraud inquiry - are fraught for Fox News & for parent co 21st C Fox— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) February 15, 2017
6/ The allegations that Fox News would have had Tantaros' private email/phones hacked raise troubling echoes of News Corp UK tabloid scandal— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) February 15, 2017
10/ Burstein allegations of hacking private communications mirrors what happened at British Murdoch tabloids, an international scandal— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) February 15, 2017
11/ That hacking & corruption scandal led the Murdochs to clean house in Britain, for a time. (News UK CEO Rebekah Brooks is back.)— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) February 15, 2017
“Tantaros lawyer also wanted to add claims how Fox has been electronically surveilling her and interfering w/new employment. Judge denied”
3:05 PM – 15 Feb 2017
Also, I’m disappointed to also read in Gardner’s twitter feed that the judge said that Tantaros has to take her case to arbitration instead of a court hearing (which I think is in all of FOX’s employment contracts). FOX’s bullsh!t needs to be publicly aired out in court by a woman who can afford to take this all the way. Since Gretchen copped out and went with a quiet settlement, I was hoping that Tantaros would be the one to do it.
“This news may overshadow Fox News victory. The judge rules today that Andrea Tantaros claims must be arbitrated instead of in open court.”
2:43 PM – 15 Feb 2017
The priorities of the Jeff Sessions Justice Dept will be the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, the dropping of all attempts to protect anyone’s civil rights, the dropping of all attempts to defend the ACA, and a frantic attempt to locate the multiple government employees now regularly leaking the details of the incompetence of Pence’s staff. There’s not a lot of room there for a high line investigation of the Pence White House’s largest and most visible ally in the Right Wing media.
And we should not forget that they still have open investigations running against the Clintons and their charity. Sessions himself may recuse himself, but that doesn’t mean he won’t instruct the people below him to aggressively find whatever they can. Just yesterday, the Tweeter-in-Chief threw out another attack on the Clinton campaign as part of his desperate attempt to deflect questions about his compromised and now former National Security Advisor. If Flynn is to be dropped from the Pence White House, and if there is a push to discipline Conway, it’s a no-brainer that these guys will respond with an even nastier push to get that grand jury empaneled on the Clintons as soon as possible.