Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger Ailes alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
Among other things, she claimed that Ailes would ask her to turn around so that he could examine her posterior, that he told her that “you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago,” and that Ailes “retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.”
She also accused Steve Doocy, her “Fox and Friends” co-host, of engaging in a “pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment” that included “mocking her during commercial breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on air, belittling her contributions to the show.”
Carlson has also said in the past that she allowed to wear pants on the show.
No one who knows Fox News would be surprised to learn the harassment but more disturbing is the negative reactions she got from her colleagues.
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Ailes responded to the suit by calling her allegations “false,” and her suit “retaliatory” for the company’s decision not to renew her contract. However, Carlson has only sued Ailes — not Fox News or parent company 21st Century Fox.
Many of her colleagues even publicly spoke out against her and tried to call her story into question. Female hosts claim they have never themselves been harassed by Ailes.
Hadas I have spoken to many woman who work at Fox that have the most amazing stories of how kind Roger is to them https://t.co/sxKGuLp6lF— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 9, 2016
Brian talk to the hundreds of woman at Fox that I talked to this week both on air and off. They say it all BS https://t.co/L7JECOMMPD— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 9, 2016
Here’s what some of them have to say:
Greta Van Susteren: “I’ve often been alone with Roger Ailes in his office over the course of 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like what I’m reading about in the papers and the magazine.”
“Of course, the first thing that occurred to me is that, unfortunately, we have a disgruntled employee, a colleague… I read that her show wasn’t being renewed and, being a lawyer, I thought she got angry.”
Maria Bartiromo: The accusations in the lawsuit are “just not in keeping with what I know, and my experience at Fox.” “I’ve known Roger Ailes for 25 years since he first hired me at CNBC and hired me again two and a half years ago. I’ve known him to be nothing but a professional.”
However, there have been records of other similar accusations against Roger Ailes, especially in Gabriel Sherman’s biography of Ailes when two women claimed that he had propositioned them for sex in professional contexts, with one saying he explicitly told her he would only pay her more if she slept with him.
More than a dozen women have also contacted Carlson’s attorney Nancy Erika Smith, and made detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes.
“I didn’t tell my husband, it was so mortifying,” said Marsha Callahan, a former model who says Ailes harassed her in the late ’60s.
Kellie Boyle, former Republican National Committee field advisor, claims he made a pass at her back in 1989 when he told her, "You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys."
"Gosh, I didn’t know that. How would that work?" she remembers, “I was trying to kill time because I didn’t know if he was going to attack me. I was just talking until I could get out of the car. He said, "That’s the way it works," and he started naming other women he’d had. He said that’s how all these men in media and politics work — everyone’s got their friend. I said, "Would I have to be friends with anybody else?" And he said, "Well, you might have to give a blow job every once in a while." I told him I was going to have to think about this. He said, "No, if you don’t do it now, you know that means you won’t."
Former model Marsha Callahan recalls Ailes telling her he’d put her on The Mike Douglas Show if she went to bed with him and a few of his selected friends.
In an attempt to keep such stories out of the press and the courts, Ailes' lawyers have filed a motion in federal court in New Jersey seeking to move Carlson’s lawsuit to arbitration, which would prevent witnesses from being called in court.
According to them, Carlson signed an agreement with Fox News providing that “any controversy, claim or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement or Performer’s [Plaintiff’s] employment shall be brought before a mutually selected three-member arbitration panel and held in New York City in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association [“AAA”] then in effect.”
Regardless of all the weight the pro-Ailes camp is pulling against her, Carlson does have a strong support base.
Here’s hoping Fox News’ big-boys gang get what they deserve.