Roger Ailes and Gretchen Carlson aren’t done fighting in the courts over whether the former Fox News Channel boss sexually harassed the ex-Fox & Friends co-host but they’ve agreed where to battle it out – and that shift could signal a potential settlement coalescing in the matter.
Today lawyers for Ailes stepped back from the former The Mike Douglas Show producer’s motion of July 15 to move the legal action from federal court in New Jersey to New York State. “Subject to the Court’s approval of this Stipulation, Mr. Ailes withdraws his motion to transfer venue to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,” says the proposed order from both Ailes and Carlson’s attorneys. The former media heavyweight still hasn’t given up his desire to see the matter dealt with behind the closed doors of arbitration under the provisions of her FNC employment agreement nor has Carlson’s given up her efforts to ensure the suit goes to trial in a public courtroom.
However, Monday’s mutual move deciding not try to move the case to the Empire State could signal a settlement is beginning to shape up. Sources close the situation tell Deadline tonight that talks with Carlson’s legal team from FNC and hence Ailes are in “a more than preliminary stage.” A stage that seems all the stronger for the ex-Miss America’s July 6 filed case now that potential tapes of Ailes’ behavior in audio action with a number of female employees are believed to exist, according to Vanity Fair.
Fox News passed Deadline on to 21st Century Fox for any comment on settlement talks. However on the reports that Fox News host Andrea Tantaros made previous harassment allegations against teh ex-Chairman/CEO to the company that went uninvestigated, FNC Senior EVP of Programming Bill Shine via a spokesperson said “Andrea never made any complaints to me about Roger Ailes sexually harassing her.”
Having denied all the accusations and initially sought to counterattack with testimonials from FNC on-air talent female and male, Ailes was finally cut loose by Rupert Murdoch and sons/heirs Lachlan and James on July 21. Part of that divorce came after an internal investigation was reportedly told by FNC superstar Megyn Kelly that Ailes conducted himself inappropriately toward her in the past. Since then, after having at first resisting ousting Ailes, the elder Murdoch has taken over as FNC Acting CEO as a permanent chief is sought out both internally and externally.
With those allegations of other sexual harassment complaints at Fox News hosts from the likes of Tantaros plus claims of a FNC-paid for Black Room to tarnish the now ex-CEO’s enemies large and small, Carlson’s lawsuit has powerful growth potential of its own. Citing a corporate concurrence with Ailes’s behavior, FNC or parent company 21st Century Fox could perhaps see themselves added as a defendant in Carlson’s case – a hanging sword unless the matter is settled or shunted into arbitration beforehand.