Miss Americas Call For Carlson’s Resignation After Bullying Accusation

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After Miss America Cara Mund accused the organization and its chair, Gretchen Carlson, of bullying her, several former winners spoke out in support of her.

Former Miss Americas are coming together to demand that the nonprofit organization’s entire board steps down.

The decision followed the publication of a five-page letter by current Miss America Cara Mund accusing chair Gretchen Carlson of bullying.

In the letter, Mund said that Carlson and the board gave her very strict talking points, which included lying about the most important anti-sexual assault movement we’ve seen taking shape in our history.

Mund also claimed she was told to tell the press that Carlson, the former Fox News anchor, started the Me Too movement, when activist Tarana Burke was the one who first launched it.

Mund went on to accuse Miss America’s CEO of trying to silence her.

“Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, 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 wrote. “After a while, the patterns have clearly emerged, and the sheer accumulation of the disrespect, passive-aggressive behavior, belittlement, and outright exclusion has taken a serious toll.”

After the letter went public, Miss America released a statement claiming that the organization always supported Mund.

“It is disappointing that she chose to air her grievances publicly not privately. Her letter contains mischaracterizations and many unfounded accusations. We are reaching out to her privately to address her concerns,” the statement read.

The group of 19 former contest winners are now telling Carlson, as well as the entire board, to resign, insisting that is the only way for the organization to keep its reputation intact.

Miss America 2010, Caressa Cameron-Jackson, told reporters that putting Carlson in charge was meant as a way of making things better. Unfortunately, that’s not what ended up happening.

“[When] we voted, myself included, to put Gretchen in this position, we were hoping it was with a fresh set of eyes," Cameron-Jackson said. "It's heartbreaking now to see that’s not the direction things have gone."

Suzette Charles, Miss America 1984, agreed.

“We are very much disappointed that as a sister, she sorta forgot where she came from," she said.

During an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Cameron-Jackson explained that starting with a clean slate could change things for the better.

“I feel as though all of the leadership is complicit in this, and in order for us to move forward and to actually heal, we need to do the right thing right now, so that we can move forward and focus on who’s gonna be crowned Miss America on Sept. 9,” she said.

In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Charles added that Carlson must be held accountable.

“Gretchen has been bullying for a long time,” Charles said. “This person has taken no responsibility for the way she’s treated our current Miss America.”

The two former winners told reporters that they are stepping up and giving these interviews because Miss America simply barred Mund from taking interviews. Still, her letter continues to be quoted by news outlets, making the organization’s tactics an utter failure as they are not able to keep her quiet.

“Right away, the new leadership delivered an important message: There will be only one Miss America at a time, and she isn’t me,” Mund wrote in her letter. “They told me that I’m not important enough to do big interviews, and that the major press is ‘obviously’ reserved for Gretchen.”

On Sunday, Carlson said she was not guilty of any of the accusations brought forward by Mund, adding she was “surprised and saddened beyond words.” She also claimed that Miss America lost $75,000 in scholarship money following Mund’s letter.

“Cara, let me be clear: We, as an organization, are very proud of you and all you have accomplished. You are smart, caring and ambitious. … You embody the mission of Miss America,” Carlson wrote.

“I also want to be clear that I have never bullied or silenced you,” she added.

On Twitter, users took Mund’s side, using the hashtag #StandWithCara to show how disappointed they were in Carlson. Even other former Miss America winners tweeted in support of their sister.

It has become nearly impossible for Carlson to go on pretending that she’s an innocent bystander in this incident. And the backlash will only worsen the longer the board and Carlson wait for it to go away.

If they remain in power as it is, it could mean the end of the organization as we know it, making Carlson and the current board the ones to blame for destroying the Miss America brand.

Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

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