Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown defended himself on Wednesday against charges that he sexually harassed former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros on-set. In a lawsuit, Tantaros alleged that Brown “made a number of sexually inappropriate comments to Tantaros on set” and “snuck up behind Tantaros while she was purchasing lunch and put his hands on her lower waist.” Tantaros claims that she complained about the behavior to Fox News executive Bill Shine, who ignored her.
Brown called into the “Bernie and Sid Show” on 77 WABC Radio in New York City to contest Tantaros’ account. The entire interview was awash in casual sexism, with hosts Bernard McGuirk and Sidney “Arthur” Ferris Rosenberg taking it for granted that Tantaros was a lying lunatic. Brown began by arguing that he could not have possibly harassed Tantaros on set because “that would have been in front of 25 people”—though previous lawsuits have established that many employees were intimidated into turning blind eye to the network’s culture of sexism. He then asserted that if he had harassed Tantaros, it would have somehow been evident to viewers of the show. (Brown urged listeners to watch the episode and “judge for themselves.”)
Indeed, Brown suggested that it was Tantaros who had harassed him by asking him a question about his infamous nude centerfold. “I was very uncomfortable with her line of bantering toward me,” Brown explained.
Regarding the cafeteria incident, Brown claimed that there were “100 people in this cafeteria,” meaning “you don’t sneak up on anyone.” Moreover, Scott noted, the alleged incident happened a year ago—“and since then I signed a new contract, I got a raise, I’m on every day. And this is the first time I’m hearing about this? Yesterday? From a reporter?”
McGuirk jumped in, unable to contain his empathy for the accused sexual harasser. “It’s terrible,” he said, “it’s terrible.”
Brown continued, declaring that he couldn’t have said what Tantaros alleged, because if “you make those comments on set, you’re all wired up, everybody can hear you. I would’ve been fired immediately if I had done anything inappropriate.” (Again, this was at Roger-Ailes-era Fox News, where, according to recent lawsuits and reports, no one got fired for doing anything inappropriate.)
Again, McGuirk interrupted: “It’s impossible that you could have done that!” he declared. “What do you think is the motive? It’s like a drive-by with you! Why did she just…”
Brown cut in to explain that he had figured out Tantaros’ motive: “She wrote a book, she did it in violation of her contract allegedly, and Fox wouldn’t allow her to promote the book on TV.” Tantaros, Brown suggests, filed her suit to get revenge on the network. “It’s a lot of inside baseball things that I am not privy to,” he said. “All management stuff that has nothing to do with me.”
“Scott, you’re an easy target,” McGuirk continued. “You’re a good-looking guy, you’re a friendly guy. So when she mentions you it’s like, Oh, Scott Brown, that good-lucking politician—he probably did do something!”
Brown reiterated that the charges were false. “I am always keenly aware of what I do and say. Keenly aware.”
“Well, that’s my point, Scott,” McGuirk responded. “Aren’t you pissed—at the end of the day, when she throws your name into this mix, you’re married, you got a wife. What if, God forbid—God forbid!—your wife gets upset or there’s a fight in the Brown house…”
“She was upset,” Brown said, “yeah, she was upset, until Bill [Shine] called the house and basically assured her that this was the first he’s hearing about it and there’s no truth to the innuendo regarding me and that was her only concern.”
Shine is named as a defendant in Tantaros’ lawsuit; she alleges that he actively enabled her harassment.
“Yeah, I’m pissed,” Brown continued. “I’m a little flabbergasted that I’m kind of caught in the struggle between the talent and management that somehow… To try to back up her claims somehow, I somehow fit into it…”
“It’s the worst kind of slander,” McGuirk concluded.
Monday’s episode of the Bernie and Sid Show opened with a dog barking and McGuirk asking: “Is that Hillary?” The hosts then described Anna Nicole Smith as “the actress they found dead at the Hard Rock down in Florida, who was fat at one time.” A similar kind of casual misogyny pervades their interview with Brown—which may be the reason he chose their show to help clear his record. Fox, it seems, is not the only outlet with a serious sexism problem.