Weeks after Gretchen Carlson left Fox News, the anchor filed a sexual harassment complaint against her former boss, Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. In the complaint, included below, Carlson alleges that her career was “sabotaged” because she refused Ailes “sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.” Ailes has denied Carlson’s claims. On July 19, there were reports that Ailes had been fired, but a Fox News spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter that he “is at work.”
UPDATE: On September 9, Vanity Fair reported that Ailes and Carlson reached a $20 million settlement, citing three sources, and adding that an apology is on the way. The settlement will be paid by 21st Century Fox, on Ailes’ behalf and Vanity Fair reports that it is not certain how much of that settlement Ailes will pay himself. The magazine also reports that Fox reached a settlement with two other women.
The settlement talks were previously reported by New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman in a cover story on how Ailes was brought down at Fox News.
Here is Carlson’s statement:
“I am gratified that 21st Century Fox took decisive action after I filed my Complaint. I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life in which I will redouble my efforts to empower women in the workplace. I want to thank all the brave women who came forward to tell their own stories and the many people across the country who embraced and supported me in their #StandWithGretchen. All women deserve a dignified and respectful workplace in which talent, hard work and loyalty are recognized, revered and rewarded.”
“As you may have heard, I am no longer with Fox News. I value your support and friendship, especially now, so please stay in touch with me,” Carlson wrote on Facebook. “I value your support and friendship, especially now, so please stay in touch with me.”
Carlson did issue a statement through her attorney that reads:
I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career. Although this was a difficult step to take, I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace. I am extremely proud of my accomplishments at Fox News and for keeping our loyal viewers engaged and informed on events and news topics of the day.
In the complaint, Carlson claims that Ailes retaliated by firing her on June 23 and “ostracizing, marginalizing and shunning her.” She says he claimed that the “problems” could be solved if they had a sexual relationship.
In one alleged incident on September 16, 2015, Carlson says that when she met with Ailes to talk about her treatment, he told her, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better.” She claims he added, “Sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way. Nine months after she refused Ailes again, she was fired, she claims.
Carlson also alleges that she complained about Steve Doocy, her Fox & Friends co-host, on September 2009 for creating a “hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way.”
Ailes responded to these complaints by telling her she had to learn to “get along with the boys,” Carlson claims.
She goes on to claim that Ailes cut her appearances on The O’Reilly Factor and Culture Warrior and gave her less important news to cover in retaliation. In 2013, she was forced to leave Fox & Friends to host a 2 p.m. show with less viewers. However, Carlson claims that the ratings for the show in June 2015 were up 33 percent.
Carlson, a former Miss America winner, included a long list of alleged examples of sexual harassment:
Carlson is seeking compensatory damages, including “lost compensation, damage to career path, damage to reputation and pain and suffering damages,” damages for mental anguish, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and court costs.
Here is the full complaint:
Carlson Wrote About Other Sexual Harassment Incidents in Her Life
The lawsuit also comes just after the release of Carlson’s new book, Getting Real, in in which she described how she was the victim of sexual assault in the past. She wrote about an incident with an unnamed television executive after she was crowned Miss America. In another incident, a Los Angeles public relations executive forced her face into his crotch.
“Looking back, I see that although these executives might have been genuinely trying to get me a job, they expected something in return. I’d never experienced that before. It was a very uncomfortable wake-up call, but I put these incidents behind me,” she wrote in the book. “I knew this sort of thing happened to women, but I wasn’t about to let it destroy my confidence or darken my perspective of the world. Two guys who were jerks—I could handle that. But how many other women had this happened to?”
This Isn’t the First Time Ailes Has Been Accused of Sexual Harassment
The Loudest Voice in the Room, an Ailes biography written by Gabriel Sherman and excerpted in the New York Times in 2014, alleges that Ailes offered television producer Randi Harrison a $100-per-week raise in “if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want” while Ailes was at NBC in the 1980s.
“These charges are false,” a Fox News spokeswoman told the New York Times. “While we have not read the book, the only reality here is that Gabe was not provided any direct access to Roger Ailes and the book was never fact-checked with Fox News.”
Ailes Denied the Claims, but Will Still Begin an Internal Investigation
Fox News sent Heavy.com a statement, calling Carlson’s allegations “false” and “retaliation for the network’s decision to renew her contract.” Fox News also told TheWrap that it will start an internal investigation and stood by Doocy as well.
Here’s the rest of Fox’s statement:
Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false. This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.
Here’s Carlson’s response to Ailes, released by her lawyers, Nancy Erika Smith and Martin Hyman:
Ailes’ claim that Gretchen Carlson was terminated because of bad ratings is demonstrably false. The publicly available ratings confirm the allegation in the Complaint that at the time of her termination Gretchen’s total viewership was up 33% year to date and up 23% in the key demographic. After her firing from Fox and Friends for complaining about discrimination, Gretchen was moved to a challenging time slot and denied support and promotion. Despite this, she succeeded and was the number one cable news show in her time slot in total viewers.
“Regarding Ailes’ claims that Gretchen’s allegations are false, we challenge him to deny, under oath, that he made the statements attributed to him in the Complaint.
“Finally, Ailes does not allow his employees to speak to the press or publish anything without prior approval. Gretchen was chastised for answering a question from a hometown newspaper about her favorite Minnesota State Fair food. In her book Gretchen told her story while trying to keep her job – knowing that Ailes had to approve what she said.
On July 19, Deadline confirmed that Ailes was fired.
More Women Have Come Forward With Abuse Allegations
Six more women came forward to talk with New York Magazine with sexual harassment claims against Ailes, with one dating back to 1968 or 1969 when Ailes was a producer on The Mike Douglas Show. Another incident allegedly took place in 1989, just after Ailes was President George H.W. Bush’s chief media strategist.
Geraldo Rivera Expresses ‘Regret’ for Standing by Ailes After the Lawsuit
Geraldo Rivera and Greta Van Susteren both stood by Ailes in the days after Carlson filed her lawsuit. However, the two have both pulled back their support. In a lengthy Facebook post, Rivera expressed “regret” for supporting Ailes. Van Susteren, who abruptly left Fox News earlier this week, also expressed regret.
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