UPDATE, with statements, from 21st Century Fox and Roger Ailes: Fox News’ parent company has issued a statement saying it has launched an internal review of Gretchen Carlson’s allegations. The statement comes about six hours after news broke Carlson had filed a lawsuit against Fox News boss Roger Ailes, claiming she was let go from Fox News Channel after rebuffing his sexual advances, and also making allegations about her former Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy. “The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy,” 21st Century Fox said in the statement. “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.”
Meanwhile, Ailes issued a statement, calling the lawsuit “offensive,” “wholly without merit” and saying it will be “defended vigorously.”
1st update, with additional details, background: Media erupted this morning with word Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson said she had been terminated from the cable news network and has filed a suit for sexual harassment and retaliation against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, tweeting:
Her contract was terminated June 23, which is the day it ended, according to the civil action complaint (read it here) by lawyers at New Jersey-based Smith Mullin P.C.:
The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey. Fox News has been contacted for comment but has not yet responded.
In the suit, Carlson says Ailes “has unlawfully retaliated against her “and sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.”
Carlson claims Ailes gave her the hook after “ostracizing, marginalizing and shunning” her, after making clear to her that these “‘problems’ would not have existed and could be solved, if she had a sexual relationship with him.”
“As a direct and proximate result of Carlson refusing Ailes’ sexual advances, and retaliation for Carlson’s complaints about discrimination and harassment, Ailes terminated her employment, causing her significant economic, emotional and professional harm,” Carlson claims in the filing.
Carlson, who previously worked for CBS News for five years, joined Fox News in 2005 and, for nearly eight years, was co-host of Fox & Friends. On or about September 3, 2008, she complained to her supervisor that the show’s co-host Steve Doocy had “created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way, including putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast.”
Carlson also claims Doocy mocked her during commercial breaks, and belittled her contributions to the show, the suit says. Learning of those complaints, Ailes responded by calling Carlson a “man hater” and telling her she needed to learn to “get along with the boys,” the lawsuit says. After which Ailes began “damaging her career” by assigning her fewer hard hitting political interviews, removing her from weekly appearances on the ‘Culture Warrior’ segment of The O’Reilly Factor” and reducing her appearances on her show’s 6 AM hour which had higher ratings.
She claims she was “fired” from Fox & Friends when she was reassigned to the 2 PM ET timeslot, “substantially reducing her compensation.”
When she met with Ailes in September of 2015 to discuss her complaints, she said in the suit he responded, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better.”
It’s not the first time a female staffer has leveled such charges against Ailes, though it’s believed to be the first lawsuit. In the book “The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – and Divided a Country,” author Gabriel Sherman wrote that television producer Randi Harrison claimed Ailes offered to hike her salary by $100 in the 80’s, if she would have sex with him on demand. Fox News denied that claim when the highly controversial book was published in 2014.
One year ago, Carlson wrote an essay in Huffington Post about her experiences with sexual harassment in the TV industry, citing three instances, none of which involved Fox News Channel or Ailes. Carlson alleged that, as she was ending her term as Miss America, a “top TV executive in New York” took her out to dinner to discuss her career but, while driving home “suddenly threw himself on top of me and stuck his tongue down my throat.”
A few months later, she had dinner with a top PR exec who promised to help segue her beauty-pageant background into a news media career, after which, in his car, he “abruptly put his hand on the back of my head and shoved my face into his crotch.”
And during her first job, at a TV station in Richmond, Virginia, the station’s cameraman who helped attach her microphone, reaching up under her blouse to hook it to her bra, began talking, on the drive back to the station, about how much he’d enjoyed touching her breasts.