Gretchen Carlson Is Finally Free Of Fox News

by Eleonor Botoman

Just two months ago, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, her former boss, after he intentionally sabotaged her career for refusing his sexual advances. Almost immediately after this story broke, a Pandora’s box of allegations opened up as other Fox News women, including Megyn Kelly, came forward with their own stories of sexual harassment at the hands of Ailes, including his on-going pattern of offering promotions in exchange for sexual favors, firing those who would not comply and the many measures Ailes took to keep his victims quiet (such as moving hosts into unfavorable time slots, salary cuts, and threatening victims with video tape recordings).

Earlier today, Vanity Fair reported that Carlson has now accepted a $20 million settlement from 21st Century Fox on behalf of Ailes. The company also issued a statement in regards to the case, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

Carlson tweeted this morning in response to the news:

gretchen carlson tweet

Gretchen Carlson, a Fox News veteran and former host of The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson as well as Fox & Friends, has been with the network since 2005. One of the (many) incidents mentioned in the suit occurred in 2009 when Carlson tried to complain about the belittling, sexist behavior from her co-host Steve Doocy. Ailes’s response? He called Gretchen a “man hater” and a “killer” and told her to “get along with the boys.”

roger ailes

During her time at Fox News, Ailes would make frequent inappropriate comments about Carlson. He said to her in a meeting that “you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago,” admitting that “problems are easier to solve” that way. He would also comment on her appearance by telling Carlson to wear outfits that showed off her figure, talked about her legs and made her turn around so he could study her from behind. He demanded sexual favors and embarrassed her with sexual insinuations during public events. Roger Ailes’s list of discriminatory offenses, outlined in the lawsuit, goes on and on. 

When Carlson tried to end the behavior, Ailes wasted no time making her life miserable. He reduced Gretchen’s on-air time, severely cut her salary and refused to give her any meaningful assignments despite the fact that she had been a journalist at Fox News for almost 11 years. On June 23rd, Ailes decided that Carlson’s contract would not be renewed and she filed her lawsuit the following month.

Although Ailes has denied the numerous allegations against him, he did step down from his position as Fox News CEO shortly after news of the lawsuit broke.

fox news logo

It’s safe to say that things at Fox News are pretty chaotic right now. A power vacuum opened up following Alies’s abrupt departure and Rupert Murdoch quickly stepped in to take the helm of both Fox News and the Fox Business Network. But the storm hasn’t passed just yet.

21st Century Fox retained law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison for an internal investigation back in July but Vanity Fair found that this internal investigation never reached a serious conclusion about Fox’s discriminatory practices or suggest any movement towards long-term improvements. Sarah Ellison writes: “While the Paul, Weiss investigation interviewed more than 20 women, according to two sources familiar with the process, it never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News. The firm, according to numerous people familiar with the process, was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture.” 

stand with gretchen

Fox News, the conservative anti-intellectual news station we all love to hate, has a serious mess on their hands. Although the Murdoch brothers are determined to resume business-as-usual, there are some serious changes that need to be made to Fox’s workplace culture. This on-going history of sexual harassment can’t be fixed with a half-assed internal investigation done mostly to save face. We have to wonder if other top anchors, like Megyn Kelly, will decide to stay and help steer Fox News in a new direction.

We love making jokes about Fox New’s racist, ignorant reporting but workplace harassment is something that needs to be taken seriously. Female employees can be placed in uncomfortable and at times dangerous situations. If harassers remain in positions of power, they are able to harm the careers of women who attempt to speak out about their experiences. While not every woman will get a $20 million settlement, Carlson and many others hope to continue to fight for respectful work spaces. Just because you’ve gotten into ‘The Boy’s Club’ doesn’t mean that you’re safe there.

Photos via Instagram, AV Club, Fox News, Twitter

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