Mail fraud, wire fraud, and ‘Friends of Roger’: Federal probe of FOX News grows
This can’t be good news for the Murdochs:
The U.S. Justice Department’s investigation of Fox News has widened to include a second law enforcement agency.
Financial crimes experts from the United States Postal Inspection Service are now involved, according to four sources connected to the investigation.
Mail fraud and wire fraud cases are part of the USPIS purview.
Investigators from both the USPIS and the Justice Department have been conducting interviews in recent weeks — including with some former Fox staffers — to obtain more information about the network’s managers and business practices, the sources said. …
Investigators have been probing possible misconduct by Fox News personnel and asking questions about the overall environment at the network.
Investigators have also been asking questions about mysterious confidants of Ailes — people who were known inside Fox as “friends of Roger.”
Ailes, through Fox News, employed a number of longtime friends as consultants, for purposes that remain unknown. One of the consultants earned $10,000 a month by submitting a monthly invoice to Fox.
When Ailes was forced out of Fox News last July, some of the consultants were also dismissed.
“Longtime friends of Roger’s dating back to the ’70s are beginning to exit the building,” a source told CNNMoney in August.
Some of the people interviewed by investigators have been asked about these “friends of Roger” and what they did behind the scenes at Fox.
Were these “Friends of Roger” conducting illegal surveillance of Andrea Tantaors? It would be irresponsible not to ask:
Andrea Tantaros claims that she was stalked and harassed by multiple Twitter accounts that were coordinated by Fox News executives after she filed a sexual harassment suit. Her new lawsuit also claims that Fox had her computer hacked for spying purposes.
Comparing their actions to the plot this season on the Showtime series Homeland, an attorney for former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has filed a complaint in federal court against Fox News, current and former Fox executives, Peter Snyder and his financial firm Disruptor Inc., and 50 “John Doe” defendants. The suit alleges that collective participated in a hacking and surveillance campaign against her.
Tantaros filed a sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes and Fox News in August of 2016, after filing internal complaints with the company about harassment dating back to February of 2015. She was fired by the network in April of 2016, as Tantaros continued to press complaints against Fox News’ then-Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and others. Tantaros had informed Fox that she would be filing a lawsuit over the alleged sexual harassment.
Tantaros claims that as early as February of 2015, a group run out of a “black room” at Fox News engaged in surveillance and electronic harassment of her, including the use of “sock puppet” social media accounts to electronically stalk her. … Tantaros’ suit identifies Peter Snyder and Disruptor Inc. as the operators of a social influence operation using “sock puppet” accounts on Twitter and other social media. …
[A]mong the exhibits filed with the complaint are a series of Twitter posts by accounts Tantaros claims are “sock puppets” operated by Fox News co-president Bill Shine and Fox News public relations executive Irena Briganti. While many of the accounts have since been deleted, a check by Ars found some were still active.
One of the accounts cited in the complaint, bearing the name Daniel Wayne Block, had clearly singled Tantaros out in the months after she filed a complaint with Fox News. The account’s posts could be construed as stalking: posting images of her with messages like “Good morning ‘Sunshine,” sharing a post about the anniversary of her brother’s death, and sending other messages tangentially related to places she was or discussions she was having in e-mail.