Unless she shows up on Outnumbered tomorrow, Tuesday will mark four weeks since Andrea Tantaros vanished from the Fox News airwaves. After a short-lived stab at explaining her position (the unconvincing “free speech” gambit) she changed course and clammed up. She has since “protected” her twitter account—only people she approves as followers can read it. That is not exactly an ace move if you’re trying to promote a new book (it’s currently ranked #4457 at Amazon). This hunkering down tells The Cable Gamer that, while Tantaros picked the wrong toes to step on, at least she learned from her first stumble and knows this is not a time to dig a deeper hole.
Another Fox News employee among the missing is Ed Henry, who it was learned was conducting an extra-marital affair with a Las Vegas lady. He immediately left the air and went into radio (and every other kind) silence. The Cable Gamer wondered about the reaction; a Fox & Friends Weekend co-host not only had an extra-marital affair with a guest of the show but fathered a child. There was barely a hiccup in his role at Fox News. True, there may be a higher standard for a Washington correspondent than a morning chat show host. But there is another reason Mr. Henry’s case is more troubling:
Now the National Enquirer is reporting Henry sent Lima raunchy sexts plus a picture of his penis — which, mercifully, the publication pixilated. Sources say Henry has a “morality clause” in his contract, which means he could be fired if he does anything to embarrass the network.
Roger Ailes is quoted noting a lack of judgment, “especially given his position as a journalist.” Ed Henry is a talented, tenacious reporter. He may survive this but, with the redolence of Anthony Weiner now hanging over him, it’s an uphill battle.
Finally, there’s the case of Michelle Fields. After her high-visibility clash with Trump’s campaign manager, she stopped appearing on Fox’s Cashin’ In, hosted by Trump-friendly Eric Bolling. The PR suggested it was a mutual decision until things calmed down, but that happened long ago and she’s still not back. Now with a new role at Huffington Post, the odds are getting longer.
Fields and Fox might have worked this out in a few week’s time if she hadn’t crossed an important line. While Fox News has no problem with differing viewpoints, they obviously take a dim view when people start hitting the channel’s journalists and hosts with personal attacks. (This is not unique to FNC; MSNBC banned Markos from the air because, among other things, he promoted a highly dubious rumor about Joe Scarborough). Michelle Fields did impugn Sean Hannity’s integrity, but she’s hardly alone on that limb. No, it was something else that really sealed her fate.
Fields let it be known that she was planning a defamation suit against the Trump camp, and a Fox News host who is also an experienced attorney offered some unsolicited, but friendly, advice:
Yes, the burden of proof is less in a civil case, but she is just not going to win and it will be expensive and a heartache. Even if one can win, it is not always worth it. Anyone encouraging this young woman to bring a lawsuit is irresponsible to her.
That may not have been what Michelle Fields wanted to hear, but there’s no reason to doubt it was offered in good faith. Fields could have just let it pass without comment, or said thanks, I’ll think about it. Instead, she aimed a tactical nuke at Greta and fired:
If you have a regular spot on a well-rated show on Fox News, you don’t want to go calling one of their top program hosts a “shill”—i.e. a person motivated not by truth or journalism but by their own personal profit or self-interest. You especially don’t want to do it to Greta van Susteren, who is widely liked and admired across political and social strata at Fox News. Talk about crossing a line! But Fields has shown no remorse (not even the token step of deleting the tweet), and The Cable Gamer will be surprised if Roger Ailes ever lets her in the building again.
By the way, many weeks have passed yet the announced defamation suit has yet to materialize. And Fields quietly stonewalls when asked about it. Maybe her own attorneys gave her the same advice Greta did. That would add a touch of irony to the outburst that may have ended the Fox News career of Michelle Fields.