Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson now serves as Chairwoman of the Miss America Board of Directors and is speaking out about charges of bullying. The New York Times reported that reigning Miss America Cara Mund made public a letter on Friday in which she charged that pageant leadership “reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis.” She singled out Carlson in some of her accusations including one in which she said, “They told me that I’m not important enough to do big interviews, and that the major press is ‘obviously’ reserved for Gretchen.” She added that she had been prohibited from posting to social media in any official capacity and that her appearance had been attacked on multiple occasions and accused Carlson and Miss America CEO Regina Hopper of “disrespect, passive-aggressive behavior, belittlement, and outright exclusion.” Mund claimed that she had researched New Jersey law and found that what she had experienced fit the legal description of “workplace bullying.”
People reports that Carlson spoke out late Friday and denied the charge.
“I want to be clear that as a proponent of women my entire life, I have never bullied Cara Mund. We have supported Cara for her entire year and we will continue to support her. It’s just disappointing that she chose to air her grievance publicly and not privately.”
Gretchen Carlson Responds to Miss America Cara Mund's Claims That She Was 'Bullied' https://t.co/08ULJ9Lhhh
— People (@people) August 18, 2018
The charge comes as an especially harsh blow given the environment in which Carlson joined the Miss America organization. In December, then-CEO Sam Haskell resigned after internal emails from him that included sexist and fat-shaming language were discovered. Carlson joined the organization on a volunteer basis with a goal of improving the culture. Regarding her time there so far, she said, “I have been putting all of my energy and countless hours into moving this organization forward.”
One of the charges made by Mund involves an appearance on Good Morning America in which she was to discuss the organization’s decision to eliminate the swimsuit competition from future pageants. She stated that she was told that “GMA only wanted Gretchen on the segment. I served as my own advocate and asked if I could attend” in spite of not appearing on the air. Carlson says this is a mischaracterization of what happened.
“We brought her to New York the day before and provided her with media training. We asked Cara to come to the studio because we thought by chance, even at the last minute, they would maybe include her. There were so many interview requests that day. Cara did all the entertainment shows and a lot of radio and print interviews.”
Carlson once served as Miss America herself and described it as “the toughest job you will ever have” that is full of ups and downs. She says she can sympathize with Mund’s frustration with a challenging year and that she will be reaching out to her personally in the near future.