A New York federal judge on Thursday rejected former Fox News personality Andrea Tantaros' efforts to conceal the fact that her 2016 book on feminism was ghostwritten by a man.
U.S. District Court judge Katherine Forrest made the decision to publicly disclose a case captioned as [Under Seal] v. [Under Seal], revealing that Michael Krechmer, who Tantaros contacted to be her ghostwriter, is suing the ex-Fox News host for breaching their agreement over her book, Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable.
Krechmer filed the lawsuit back in October 2016, but it was only made public recently due to a confidentiality provision within the original agreement that kept it private, the Hollywood Reporter reported Friday.
According to an opinion and order from U.S. District Court judge Katherine Forrest on Thursday, Krechmer and Tantaros entered into a collaboration agreement in May, 2015. The deal included a confidentiality provision. Krechmer alleges that a couple months later, the two agreed to terminate the agreement in favor of a new "Ghostwriting Agreement," where he'd be paid a flat fee of $150,000.
But the later was an oral deal. Tantaros allegedly did not want to negotiate a deal with Krechmer's agent because she "feared" it would "cause her editor to discover that she was not writing the book herself" and the book's publisher, Harper Collins, "would cancel the book if they discovered that there were any negative issues in the writing process, particularly since she was already running more than two years behind schedule."
Tantaros, who is separately suing Fox News for discrimination and harassment in non-connected cases, also allegedly feared she would "suffer professional repercussions and personal humiliation if her colleagues at Fox News discovered that the publication agreement with Harper Collins was cancelled."
Krechmer says he has only been paid $30,000 for his work and that when he asked Tantaros for full-payment, she asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement. While this lawsuit is unrelated to the one Tantaros has with Fox News on the grounds of discrimination and sexual harassment, her attorney argued that the network wanted to hush things up in arbitration. Tantaros has also alleged that she has been damaged by fake social media accounts.
Krechmer believes the confidentiality clause of the original agreement is void and that he should no longer be bound to it. He also demanded that he should be entitled to the copyright of the book, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The reason why this has been kept secret is that soon after Krechmer quietly brought the lawsuit, Tantaros moved for a preliminary injunction prohibiting him from violating the confidentiality providsion during the pendency of a sealing order. Tantaros argued her career would be seriously jeopardized if word got out that he was the actual author of Tied Up in Knots.
Forrest disagreed with Tantaros' argument in her opinion.
"A possibility of future adverse impact on employment or the celebrity status of a party is not a ‘higher value' sufficient to overcome the presumption of access to judicial documents," Forrest wrote.
"The details of the working relationship and arrangement between the parties lie at the very heart of the litigation," Forrest later added. "If the public is to understand the nature of the dispute and the reasons for the court's rulings, access to the judicial documents is essential. That it is the plaintiff, and not the defendants, who originally invoked the sealing power of the Court is irrelevant in ascertaining the public's right of access. Hence, given the nature of the dispute and defendant's failure to demonstrate specific instances of particular harm, the public's right of access has not been overcome."