Recently fired Fox News producer Abby Grossberg has revealed more behind-the-scenes details of her tenure at the network, saying her boss once told her after the 2020 presidential election that fact-checking at the network had been curbed and that show host Maria Bartiromo could “go wild.”
Grossberg, in an interview with NBC News that was to air Thursday night on “Nightly News with Lester Holt,” said her boss’ text message was part of an effort at Fox News that suddenly threw “caution to the wind.”
“There was no one to be found,” said Grossberg, who is suing Fox News, alleging she was set up to take undue blame in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against the network. “And these were the individuals that were ultimately responsible for the programming at the network.”
Grossberg paraphrased a text message from her boss in the interview with NBC News, indicating there had been a change in approach.
“You can let Maria know there will be no fact-checking today,” Grossberg said. “She can do what she wants. … Go wild.”
Grossberg’s comments came a day after emails from the Dominion case surfaced that showed Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott objecting to “fact-checking.”
While both references to fact-checking would appear to concern the review for accuracy of comments made by newsmaking officials and politicians such as former President Donald Trump or even scripts written for a show, Fox News says the term applied to critical debate or comments on a Fox News show about content that originated on another.
In any case, Grossberg, hired by Fox News as a senior producer in 2019, already had the influence to ensure such matters because of the relationship she had quickly built with her show host, she said.
“We clicked. We hit it off,” Grossberg told NBC News of her relationship with Bartiromo. “And our ratings were skyrocketing.”
Meanwhile, Grossberg alleges in her lawsuit that she had been privy to Fox News executives calling Bartiromo “crazy,” “menopausal” and “hysterical.”
“I sat in those meetings. I heard them laugh about tearing apart politicians. Now I know that in those meetings they’re talking about me,” she said.
“They’re a big corporate machine that destroys people,” Grossberg said in the NBC News interview, a preview of which ran on the “Today” show.
Grossberg said that before the 2020 election it had been common occurrence for Fox News executives to object to the appearances of certain guests.
Afterward, Grossberg said, despite the likely potential for guests such as Rudy Giuliani and lawyer Sidney Powell to spread falsehoods and even conspiracy theories about Dominion’s voting machines, network executives were fully aware she was booking such figures for Bartiromo’s Sunday morning show.
A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement to NBC News after it published portions of the interview Thursday that Grossberg’s legal claims were “unmeritorious” and “riddled with false allegations against the network and our employees.”
Grossberg was put on administrative leave by Fox News after the lawsuits were filed before the network fired her last Friday, alleging she disclosed privileged company information she was not authorized to despite warnings from corporate lawyers.
In a pair of lawsuits, one filed in New York and the other in Delaware, Grossberg accused the network of setting her up to take the fall in the ongoing defamation lawsuit filed against it by Dominion Voting Systems.
Fox News had also filed a countersuit against Grossberg, seeking a so-called gag order, before dropping the suit after her termination. Grossberg had been working on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” when she filed her lawsuit against the network.
In the lawsuit, the details of which were first reported by The New York Times, Grossberg says she was coached in “a coercive and intimidating manner” by Fox News lawyers prior to giving testimony last September in the Dominion case. The network’s goal, she said, was to to position her and Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, who Grossberg worked for at the time, to take the blame for airing false conspiracy theories alleging Dominion somehow rigged the 2020 election.
Last September, Grossberg said during a deposition for the Dominion case that she didn’t care if claims her show aired were true or false, “because we didn’t know if they were true or false at that time.” She also said she felt no obligation to correct false claims later. Grossberg now says she responded this way because she’d been “coached by and intimidated” by Fox lawyers, and urged to downplay the role of male company executive, which she says was part of a pattern of sexism at the network.
She also says, after she moved over to Carlson’s show, she immediately witnessed sexist jokes and was asked about Bartiromo’s sex life. She says also that Carlson’s staff frequently made sexist and antisemitic jokes.
Grossberg worked for Bartiromo’s show in 2020 during the election and into 2021. In 2022 she became the senior booker for Carlson’s show. Grossberg says the network understaffed Bartiromo’s show and claims this made it impossible to vet false claims of election fraud that were frequently featured on that show.
Ross A. Lincoln contributed to this report.