Mar. May 30th, 2023

Abby Grossberg got off to a great start at Fox News after joining the network in 2019 as a senior booking producer for Maria Bartiromo.

“We clicked. We get along. And our ratings skyrocketed,” Grossberg said.

But over the next four years, when he tried unsuccessfully to get a promotion and then went to work for Tucker Carlson, Grossberg says he ran into a hyper-misogynistic culture where walls were covered with photos of Nancy Pelosi in a very sexy bathing suit. pronounced. and male staff members openly debated which female politicians they would rather have sex with.

It culminated in Grossberg complaining to a supervisor and later filing lawsuits alleging she was harassed, retaliated and ultimately became the scapegoat in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News.

“They are a big corporate machine that destroys people,” Grossberg told NBC News in his longest interview to date.

Abby Grosberg.nbc news

“I sat in those meetings. I heard them laugh about tearing down politicians. Now I know that in those meetings they are talking about me”.For more on this story, tune in to NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt tonight at 6:30 pm ET/5:30 pm CT or check your local listings.

Fox News did not respond to specific questions from NBC News following Grossberg’s interview on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the network previously said that Grossberg’s legal claims were «rife with false accusations against Fox and our employees.» The spokesman did not specify which allegations the network believed to be false.

Dominion’s lawsuit has put the network in a dangerous position.

Fox News is accused of repeatedly broadcasting false accusations by Rudy Giuliani and others that the voting machine company «rigged» the 2020 election in favor of Joe Biden. The network has said that the claims by former President Donald Trump’s lawyers were newsworthy and that their coverage was protected by the First Amendment.

Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin on April 13. Dominion indicated earlier this week that he intends to call Grossberg as a witness.

But Dominion and Fox are still waiting for a summary ruling by the judge in favor of one of the parties or to go ahead with the trial.

In the interview, Grossberg said network executives were well aware that he was booking guests like Giuliani and lawyer Sidney Powell for «Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo» and would likely spread unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the machines. Dominion vote.

Grossberg said there was only one thing network executives told him was off limits: a guest criticizing Fox News for being the first network to call out Arizona, a crucial swing state, for Biden.

«Because, you know, that affected Fox’s ratings,» Grossberg said.

Before the election, it was not unusual for executives to bar certain guests from being booked for the show, Grossberg said. But in the days that followed, there was a marked change, according to Grossberg.

“Suddenly, it was caution to the wind,” Grossberg said. “There was no one to be found. And these were the people who were ultimately responsible for the programming on the network.”

At one point, Grossberg said he received a text from his boss that he paraphrased by saying: “You can inform Maria that there will be no fact check today. She can do whatever she wants… go crazy.”

Behind the scenes, Fox executives were concerned that their viewers were fleeing the network in favor of new outlets that were even more to the right and spending even more airtime on election falsehoods, according to statements previously published by Dominion.

Grossberg said Bartiromo’s program was so understaffed that she was forced to multitask. She said that she asked for a promotion several times, as well as additional staff, but the requests fell on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, Fox’s higher-ups referred to Bartiromo as «crazy,» «menopausal» and often «hysterical,» Grossberg said in his lawsuit.

Grossberg was still working for Bartiromo when Dominion filed its lawsuit against Fox in 2021. He accepted a job with Carlson’s team in July 2022.

Before testifying, Grossberg met with Fox’s lawyers in August. She said she was repeatedly trained to refrain from going into detail about higher-ups on the network.

“I was flat out told that I didn’t want to be the star witness in this case when I was very candid and forthcoming,” Grossberg said.

«I realized that the answers they wanted me to give put me in a very vulnerable position to be the scapegoat for the company.»

She said she was also told at first that she did not need her own lawyer. But after she began to question and reject some of the lawyers’ advice, the plea was canceled and her subsequent meetings with Fox lawyers became more tense.

At one point, he said, they suggested he might be hiding something.

“They called me into a conference room with the lawyers and made me believe that they had something criminal with me, that there was something on my phones or my emails or somewhere that they were looking for it,” Grossberg said.

She said the lawyers told her she would have to get her own lawyer if they found anything incriminating on her phone.

«I remember he was shaking,» Grossberg said. “This is a multi-million dollar case…’ I said, I can’t afford my own lawyer. And they’re going well, let’s see what we find’”.

Grossberg was praised after she sat down for her deposition in September and toed the company’s line. She says that her colleagues declared it «Abby Day» in celebration.

But he said Fox did not give him a copy of the statement until five months later, despite numerous requests. That prevented him from reviewing it and making changes, according to his lawyer, who cited the Delaware rules that the return should have been served in 30 days.

«The kind of preparation they engaged in and the way they handled it is way beyond pale, way beyond pale, of anything I’ve ever experienced,» Grossberg’s attorney, Gerry Filippatos, said.

Abby Grossberg, center, with attorneys Kimberly Catala and Gerry Filippatos.
Abby Grossberg, center, with attorneys Kimberly Catala and Gerry Filippatos.nbc news

One of those answers that he said he would have changed created an uproar when it was posted to a Dominion presentation. When asked if he felt it was important to correct a false claim made on the air, Grossberg said no, according to the transcript.

“I felt terrible because I knew I was being harassed, intimidated and forced to say that just to keep my job and stay with the company,” Grossberg said. “I made the decision to keep my job so I can continue paying my bills.”

Grossberg said the disclosures in Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s statement confirmed her suspicions that she and Bartiromo were being «thrown under the bus.» Murdoch identified Bartiromo as one of the hosts who had provided more than just a platform for the unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

“They supported it,” Murdoch said, according to a transcript.

Said Grossberg: «It’s really scary to think that you could be the scapegoat in perhaps the biggest media case the country has ever had.»

Grossberg sued Fox News in Delaware and New York on March 20.

The lawsuits alleged that the chain had a culture of discrimination in a «toxic workplace» and that the company’s lawyers «coerced, intimidated and misinformed» her while preparing her to testify in Dominion’s defamation lawsuit.

Fox fired her last week, alleging that she had disclosed inside information in her legal claims despite being warned that she was «not authorized to disclose it publicly.» Grossberg alleges in the amended complaints that her firing was in retaliation for taking legal action.

Stress and anxiety had led Grossberg to take medical leave from Fox earlier this year.

It got so bad, he said, that he called a crisis hotline one night. While walking home from the office, he said that he had found himself thinking that he might stop in front of a car.

“And I wouldn’t have to go to work tomorrow,” Grossberg said. “That crossed my mind. It definitely did. I really had no hope at the time.»

Grossberg said he’s in a better place now. She hopes her story will inspire others in similar situations to speak up.

“It takes a lot of courage, but it also feels really good and really validating to be able to say that this is not okay,” he said.

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