The crumbling lawsuit against Fox News

22 July 2020

5:27 AM

22 July 2020

5:27 AM

The new lawsuit filed by two women against Fox News and several of its personalities is riddled with inaccuracies. This raises questions about the veracity of its claims. Jennifer Eckhart and Cathy Areu, a former Fox Business producer and frequent network guest, respectively, claim that they suffered sexual misconduct, harassment, and even rape at the hands of Ed Henry, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Howard Kurtz.

The lawsuit immediately made waves in the mainstream media, where it was picked up by the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, CBS News, and other major outlets. It has been a top trending topic on Twitter since its filing. However, a review of several claims made in the suit reveals many basic inaccuracies. A lawyer for Eckhart and Areu admitted to The Spectator that errors were made in the filing, and The Spectator has learned that Carlson’s wife was with him the evening Areu claims that he told her he would be alone.

Areu, who claims that she was sexually harassed by Carlson, says that her last appearance on Carlson’s program in 2018 was prior to ‘the annual Christmas party’, which has been reported by other outlets as referring to the network’s party. According to Areu, ‘the show was filmed live in New York City and Mr Carlson was in New York City at the studio.’

Fox News’s 2018 Christmas party took place on December 10, 2018, according to social media posts from multiple FNC employees.

A photo from the 2018 Fox News Christmas party (Twitter: Dec 10, 2018)

A photo from the 2018 Fox News Christmas party (Twitter: Dec 10, 2018)

A lawyer for Areu claimed in an email to me that his client’s version of events occurred on December 10, 2018, and added that it was the night of the Tucker Carlson Tonight Christmas party. ‘The TCT annual Christmas party was on Dec 10. That’s the day it happened,’ the lawyer said. That is inconsistent with the fact that the network-wide Christmas party took place that evening.

A review of TV clipping service Grabien found that Areu did not even appear on Carlson’s program on December 10, 2018, which was filmed in Washington, DC, not New York City. Carlson was in DC the following night, December 11, as well to attend the annual Daily Caller Christmas party (I attended that party and spoke to Carlson there). In fact, Areu’s only appearance in December 2018 was on the 28th, three days after the Christmas holiday and when the program was guest hosted by Mark Steyn. Carlson made a brief appearance on that show, but was at his DC studio and never appeared on air with Areu.

The last time Areu would have appeared on Carlson’s program in 2018 when he was hosting in New York City was on November 30.

A lawyer for Areu responded to these inconsistencies by asserting that Areu did appear on Carlson’s program from New York City on December 10, 2018, yet sent me a link to a YouTube video that was posted nine days prior on December 1, 2018. This is the segment that took place on November 30, 2018. The lawyer insisted that the person who uploaded the video to YouTube must have manually changed the upload date.

YouTube clip of Cathy Areu’s appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, posted December 1, 2018

A screenshot from Grabien confirms that the segment took place on November 30, 2018.

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Cathy Areu appears on Tucker Carlson Tonight on November 30, 2018 (Grabien screenshot)

The lawyer later admitted during a phone conversation with me that the dates were mixed up due to errors in Areu’s recollection and that the alleged incident did take place on November 30, 2018. The Spectator has learned that the Tucker Carlson Tonight Christmas party for the program’s small staff took place that evening in New York City. Carlson’s wife attended the party. This sits oddly with Areu’s claim that Carlson told her he would not be with his wife and children that evening.

Areu also alleged that Carlson told her he was only going to attend the party for 10 minutes to ‘make an appearance’. It is unlikely Carlson would have said that about a party for his own staff, particularly considering The Spectator learned he attended the entire thing.

The lawsuit also claims during the appearance with Carlson in NYC that she ‘could not leave the chair or studio’ when Carlson requested she stay until the end of the show. Having appeared on television as often as she did, Areu would surely have known how to take out her ear piece and remove her microphone if she wanted to leave the area. She would not need a producer or a member of the tech crew to do that for her.

‘She was physically able, But was asked to remain with my equipment in the chair on set,’ the lawyer said regarding this claim. ‘As such, she was still on a live mic and next to the host. If she moved her arm, she’d be in the frame. You don’t disconnect yourself during a live show.’

Still, could Areu have not left during a commercial break?

The lawsuit says Carlson retaliated against Areu’s rejection of his ‘advances’ by limiting her appearances on his program. In 2019, for example, the lawsuit says she only appeared three times. A review of Grabien shows that Areu appeared on the program at least five times in 2019: March 1, March 21, May 24, August 20, and November 6.

Meanwhile, Areu’s Twitter profile at the time of the filing featured a prominent photo with Carlson on the set of his show.

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Cathy Areu’s Twitter profile features a photo with Tucker Carlson

The lawsuit also interprets Howard Kurtz’s invitation to Areu to meet him in his hotel lobby (not his room) as a sexual advance rather than a matter of convenience,; the latter seems more credible given he told her he was ‘booked solid’ the following morning. The only provable fact in Areu’s portion of the lawsuit (without any of the personal communications between Areu and the Fox News employees available for review) is that she did appear on Sean Hannity’s show on March 8, 2018. The lawsuit claims that she was ‘hardly, if ever’ invited back after that appearance because she did not ‘play along’ with Hannity’s alleged joke, when he supposedly offered his staff $100 to go on a date with her. Yet she appeared on the show less than a month later on April 4, 2018.

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Eckhart makes the weightiest allegation in the lawsuit, alleging that Henry ‘groomed’ her into a sexually coercive relationship and ‘raped’ her. The suit includes several examples of Henry’s ‘delusions’ and ‘violence’ through messages he sent to Eckhart where he describes engaging in rough sex with her. The messages notably do not include Eckhart’s side of the exchange, which might be important in helping determine whether or not the relationship was consensual.

No other media outlets seems to have done this basic fact checking of the claims made in the lawsuit. It shows complete carelessness on behalf of Areu and her lawyers and begs for further interrogation.

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