Gretchen Carlson sues Fox CEO
Former Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson, sues CEO Roger Ailes claiming sexual harassment.
July 7, 2016 – 7:19AM
Fox News channel presenter Gretchen Carlson has filed a lawsuit against the network’s chairman, Roger Ailes, alleging the 76-year-old executive fired her for refusing his sexual advances.
In the suit, filed in New Jersey Superior Court, Carlson alleges Ailes deliberately sabotaged her career because she “refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.”
The suit claims the pair met to discuss the discriminatory treatment to which she was subjected, but that Ailes said they ought to have had “a sexual relationship a long time ago … sometimes problems are easier to solve that way.”
High-ranking Murdoch lieutenant and Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is being sued for sexual harassment. Photo: Getty Images
Carlson is a well known news presenter in the US, who formerly hosted the Fox & Friends panel program but more recently has hosted an afternoon segment on the Rupert Murdoch-owned 24-hour news channel.
As a measure of her popularity, that program, The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson, has an audience of around 1.1 million viewers and regularly wins its timeslot.
Ailes is a high-ranking Murdoch lieutenant and one of the more divisive figures in Murdoch’s media empire because of his perceived right-wing affiliation.
For News presenter Gretchen Carlson says Roger Ailes called her a “man hater” and said she needed to “get along with the boys”. Photo: AP
Ailes, who worked as a media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, is seen by many as the man who has driven Fox News’ excessively right-wing agenda.
Consequently, Carlson’s lawsuit has dominated television news across the spectrum in the US.
According to the lawsuit, Carlson’s problems began when she complained internally at Fox News in 2009 that her co-host Steve Doocy was “pulling down her arm to shush her” during live telecasts.
Carlson said Doocy engaged in a “pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment”.
But when the complaint was escalated internally at Fox News, Ailes called Carlson a “man hater” and told Carlson she needed to “get along with the boys”.
Ailes later told her she needed to stop getting “offended so God damn easy about everything”.
Carlson’s suit also alleges Ailes asked her to turn around in his office so he could “view her posterior”, commended her on outfits which “enhanced” her figure and commented on her legs
Ailes also alleged to have said to others, in Carlson’s presence, that he had “slept” with three former Miss Americas, but not with her.
After graduating as dux of her high school in Anoka, Minnesota, and enrolling in Stanford University, Carlson entered and won the Miss Minnesota and Miss America pageants, in 1988 and 1989 respectively.
In September, 2015, Carlson asked for a meeting with Ailes to discuss her ongoing treatment.
It was at that meeting that Ailes is alleged to have said they ought to have had “a sexual relationship a long time ago … sometimes problems are easier to solve that way.”
Carlson says during her tenure at Fox News she was denied opportunities that were offered to other presenters because of her “unwillingness” to have a sexual relationship with Ailes.
Carlson says her pay was cut, her appearances as a commentator on prime time shows on the channel were “severely curtailed”, she was not assigned high-visibility events or important interviews and was not given the same social media, PR and advertising support other presenters received.
Finally, the lawsuit says, Carlson’s contract was not renewed on June 23, 2016.
Prior to joining Fox News, Carlson’s television career includes stints at CBS News and the CBS Saturday Early Show, as well as roles as a local news presenter in Richmond, Dallas, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
Carlson’s lawsuit is seeking compensatory damages, including compensation for damage to her career and reputation, and damages for mental anguish.
Ailes released a statement in response to the lawsuit, saying the allegations were false and that it was a retaliatory action taken against the network’s decision not to renew Carlson’s contract.
Carlson’s contract was not renewed, Mr Ailes said, “due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon line-up.”
“This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously,” he said.
21st Century Fox, which owns Fox News, also released a statement saying they had commenced an “internal review” of the matter.
“The company has seen the allegations against Mr Ailes and Mr Doocy,” the statement said. “We take these matters seriously.
“While we have full confidence in Mr Ailes and Mr Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter.”