Former Miss America Gretchen Carlson has responded to reigning Miss America Cara Mund’s claims that she was bullied and put “on a shelf” by the organization since Carlson became the chairwoman of the board of directors.
On Friday, Mund wrote an open letter saying, “I strongly believe my voice is not heard nor wanted by our current leadership; nor do they have any interest in knowing who I am and how my experiences related to positioning the organization for the future.”
Carlson took to Twitter and said she was “surprised and saddened” by Mund’s letter and wished that she would have contacted her directly via phone, text and email before going to the media with allegations of bullying. Carlson says that Mund only wants to speak via email about the issues.
Carlson praised Mund saying that the organization is proud of all that she has accomplished. “You are smart, caring and ambitious,” said Carlson. “As a Brown graduate, you aspire to go to law school and one day run for Governor in your home state of North Dakota. You embody the mission of Miss America.”
She went on to deny claims of bullying: “I also want to be clear that I have never bullied or silenced you,” she wrote. “In fact, I have acknowledged to you and your parents many times that the organization understands the frustrations of serving during such a change-filled and stressful year. It surely was not what you had expected. We’ve acknowledged your grievances, and taken many steps to try to make your experience a good one. You are at the epicenter of a very historic moment for women. Over the past two years, our country has undergone a seismic shift in how professional women are depicted and treated.”
From there, Carlson unpacked the repercussions of Mund’s allegations. “Actions have consequences,” she said. “Friday, as an organization, we learned that $75,000 in scholarships which would have been the first scholarship increase in years, is no longer on the table as a direct result of the explosive allegations in your letter. The impact won’t stop there — we are already seeing a negative ripple effect across the entire organization, and I am so concerned that it will dilute the experience for the next woman selected to wear the crown.”
In Mund’s open letter, she said changes with the organization when Carlson and Regina Hopper took leadership positions at the beginning of this year following a scandal in which sexually derogatory emails of former board members surfaced.
Carlson, the former Fox News anchor, became an outspoken voice for sexual harassment victims when her lawsuit against her former employer exposed the rampant, longtime misconduct of former chairman Roger Ailes.
When it was announced that the beauty pageant would be getting rid of the swimsuit competition, it was unpopular decision within the pageant community. Mund made her opinion clear in an interview with The Press of Atlantic City news site — which also posted her letter.
Carlson ends her statement saying: “We are three weeks away from what should be a historic moment of celebrating the amazing 51 candidates who have chosen to compete for the job of Miss America. We should be celebrating them. Cara, please join us in doing so.”
Read her full statement below.