Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has responded to the explosive sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson.
Carlson was formerly the anchor of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on the news channel prior to the expiration of her contract late last month.
A graduate of Stanford University and a former CBS News correspondent, Carlson — who was crowned Miss America in 1989 — went to work for FNC in 2005.
In a lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court today, Carlson, 50, claims that she was wrongfully terminated on June 23 as a result of allegedly refusing Ailes’ sexual advances.
The lawsuit lists Ailes, a New Jersey resident, as the only defendant; Fox News itself is not named, which is unusual for a workplace-related discrimination complaint where the employer as a stand-alone entity is typically the principal target. A lawsuit could be amended, however, as alluded to below. The legal papers also cite the New York City Human Rights Law as the controlling statute, even though the case was filed in a venue outside of the city.
“Gretchen and we have no indication that Fox News authorized Mr. Ailes to behave this way or condoned it in anyway…unless in the near future we learn otherwise,” Carlson attorney Nancy Erika Smith told The Hollywood Reporter.
In a statement about the lawsuit, Gretchen Carlson asserted that “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.”
In a statement about the Carlson lawsuit, Roger Ailes offered this response.
“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.”
Gretchen Carlson’s lawyer claims, however, that the ratings for the show’s viewership were up 33 percent and the program was often winning its time slot. Carlson was allegedly and abruptly let go after her show wrapped at 3 p.m. Eastern on June 23, Politico explained. “Carlson’s contract was up on June 23, and Carlson had planned a vacation for her 50th birthday. Smith said Carlson had tried to start renegotiations on her contract in March but was rebuffed, adding that previous contracts had been renegotiated at the last minute, so she did not suspect anything was amiss.”
Her lawyer also claims that 10 women have emerged with similar unpleasant experiences with Ailes, but they have yet to be vetted.
Carlson’s lawsuit also mentions alleged mistreatment by her former Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy.
In a separate statement, 21st Century Fox, FNC’s parent company, revealed that “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.”
The founding Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes, who signed a new multiyear contract last summer, generally inspires considerable a lot of loyalty from his employees, many of whom have been with the network over the long haul, including starting back when it launched in 1996. It remains to be seen how the allegations, currently unproven, shake out if and when the parties present their evidence.
In the meantime, Fox News and Roger Ailes’ foes have taken to Twitter to seemingly rejoice about the Gretchen Carlson sexual harassment lawsuit.
[Photo by Jim Cooper/AP]