Fox News producer felt 'coerced' to provide false testimony in Dominion case, she says in lawsuit

A Fox News producer filed a lawsuit against the network on Monday claiming that its legal team "coerced, intimidated, and misinformed" her as it battled a separate legal dispute over the network's coverage of unfounded election fraud allegations.

Abby Grossberg, a senior booker who worked with Fox News hosts Maria Bartiromo and Tucker Carlson, said in the suit that Fox News lawyers "conditioned and coerced" her to offer responses meant to obfuscate or minimize her knowledge of the network's inner workings in preparation for her deposition as part of Dominion Voting Systems' defamation lawsuit against the network.

Dominion filed its $1.6 billion suit against Fox News in March 2021, accusing the network of knowingly pushing false conspiracy theories about the voting machine company in the wake of the 2020 election, in order to combat concerns over ratings and viewer retention.

MORE: What Fox News hosts allegedly said privately versus on-air about false election fraud claims

"Ms. Grossberg felt sick to her stomach with fear, uncertainty, and confusion when she realized what her employer wanted her to do under oath and felt incredibly alone and powerless," Grossberg's lawyers wrote.

After her deposition, which took place in September 2022, Grossberg felt "uncertain that her testimony was fully accurate because of the intimidating and confusing 'coaching' she had received" from Fox News' legal team, according to the suit.

Grossberg also accused the network of fostering a "toxic atmosphere victimizing women," describing a working environment where "female workers are verbally violated on almost a daily basis by a poisonous and entrenched patriarchy."

When Grossberg brought concerns about her male colleagues' behavior to human resources, according to the suit, she said she was "disregarded and ordered to return to work and face the same environment about which she had just complained."

PHOTO: A headline about President Donald Trump is displayed outside Fox News studios in New York on Nov. 28, 2018. (Mark Lennihan/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: A headline about President Donald Trump is displayed outside Fox News studios in New York on Nov. 28, 2018. (Mark Lennihan/AP, FILE)

On Monday afternoon, Fox News placed Grossberg on administrative leave and filed its own suit against her, seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent her from publicly divulging details of her interactions with network attorneys. The network then withdrew that suit on Tuesday.

A Fox News spokesperson said Grossberg's "allegations in connection with the Dominion case are baseless and we will vigorously defend Fox against all of her claims."

Grossberg, in her suit, called Fox News' actions "an effort to silence her from telling her story." Before joining Fox News in 2019, Grossberg spent three years as a producer at ABC News.

Grossberg's suits were filed on the same day that the Delaware judge overseeing Dominion's defamation case heard pre-trial arguments from both Dominion and Fox News attorneys on their respective motions for summary judgments, during which both parties urged the judge to rule on the case before it heads to trial.

Dominion argued Fox should be held liable for defamation, saying the trove of internal communications it obtained of the network's stars and executives show "in their own words" that they knew many of the claims broadcast on the network were false -- but they were still pushed out anyway.

MORE: Fox News hosts called 2020 election fraud 'total BS' in private, new Dominion court filing says

"Unlike almost every single other defamation case, we have in their own words the fact that they knew it was false or in some cases that they were recklessly disregarding the truth," Justin Nelson, an attorney, for Dominion said. "It is rare for a defendant to admit, because it would show such liability, and here we have that, for multiple people, on multiple shows."

Dominion also said those decisions to broadcast those false narratives went "all the way up the chain of command" to Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch.

"There was a deliberate decision by those responsible for the broadcasts, a decision that went all the way up the chain of command, to let the story be out there. To let loose the hosts," said another Dominion attorney, Rodney Smolla.

Dominion attorneys added that some at Fox had even tried to halt fact checking efforts, pointing to an email from Suzanne Scott that said, "this has to stop now ... This is bad business" in response to a public fact check from a Fox reporter.

Attorneys also pointed to private doubts expressed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who allegedly wrote in November, "I don't believe there was a mass cheat," according to Dominion's discovery.

Fox attorneys, in their own motion for summary judgment, said they were appropriately reporting on Trump's allegations, saying, "All we ever did was provide viewers with the true fact that those allegations were being leveled."

"These are not [allegations] that Fox News made up. These are allegations that were coming from the President, the president's legal team," Fox attorney Erin Murphy, said.

MORE: Dominion files $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News over false election fraud claims

During the hearing, Murphy went through many of Fox's programs one by one to show that they were not making false statements of fact.

Oral arguments on the motions for summary judgement are set to continue on Wednesday, after nearly seven hours of arguments that were supposed to finish on Tuesday.

Dan Abrams, ABC News' chief legal analyst, said it would be a long shot for either side to win its motions at this phase, given the overwhelming amount of evidence.

"A motion for summary judgment is a difficult motion to win. It's basically asking a judge to intervene and say, 'There's no need to take this case to a jury,'" Abrams said. "I wouldn't expect that either party is going to win this case in summary judgment."

The trial is set to begin on April 17.

MORE: Rupert Murdoch says Fox hosts 'endorsed' election claims, court filing says

In its filings, Dominion wrote that "Fox knew. From the top down, Fox knew 'the Dominion stuff' was 'total BS.'"

"Yet despite knowing the truth -- or at minimum, recklessly disregarding that truth -- Fox spread and endorsed these 'outlandish voter fraud claims' about Dominion even as it internally recognized the lies as 'crazy,' 'absurd,' and 'shockingly reckless,'" the filing said.

"Fox duped its audience. And Dominion paid the price," Dominion wrote, while acknowledging the "heavy burden" it faces in proving its claims.

Ahead of the hearing, Dominion has submitted bombshell filings containing hundreds of emails, texts, testimony, and other private communications from some of Fox's biggest stars and executives privately bashing Trump and his election fraud claims while continuing to broadcast them on air.

MORE: Dominion employees latest to face threats, harassment in wake of Trump conspiracy

"I did not believe it for one second," said Sean Hannity in regard to one of Trump's attorney's claims, according to one of Dominion's filings.

In response, Fox has slammed Dominion's lawsuit as an "an assault on the First Amendment and the free press," and has defended its airing of Trump's "undeniably newsworthy" voter fraud allegations and election challenges.

"As long as the press makes clear that the allegations are just allegations and not demonstrable facts, both constitutional and common-law principles protect the right of the press to allow the President's lawyers to explain their factual allegations and legal theories, as well as the right of the press to express opinions about those claims," Fox wrote in its own motion for summary judgment.

At a hearing earlier this month, Judge Eric M. Davis appeared to be readying for trial. He indicated preparations for a jury were already underway, saying that 1,800 jury notices were sent out informing potential jurors that it would be a six-week trial.

Fox News producer felt 'coerced' to provide false testimony in Dominion case, she says in lawsuit originally appeared on