The sexual harassment case filed against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes by former anchor Gretchen Carlson has been settled out of court. Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox, which is run by Rupert Murdoch and his sons, has agreed to pay Carlson $20 million to make the charges go away. In addition to her settlement, they have also agreed to pay a “handful” of other women who also claim Ailes acted sexually inappropriate toward them while in his employ, though further details regarding those amounts have not been made public. Roger Ailes will not be paying any portion of these amounts; rather, the network will be responsible for doling out the cash. In an unexpected (and quite frankly surprising) move, Fox also issued an apology to Carlson which read, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve.”
Because Ms. Carlson agreed to the settlement, she is unable to speak about the allegations, nor is she allowed to testify or present any evidence (she reportedly recorded some of her interactions with him) against Ailes in a case still pending filed by former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros. However, Fox does not seem as eager to settle with her, claiming Tantaros “is not a victim; she is an opportunist.” Another former host, Laurie Dhue, said she is currently writing a book about her experience working with Ailes; Ailes has since added a libel attorney to his legal team. In total, over 20 women have either sought or retained legal counsel regarding Ailes’ alleged behavior.
Gretchen Carlson released a statement stating she is happy 21st Century Fox decided to do the right thing and she is looking forward to getting on with her life, which includes redoubling her “efforts to empower women in the workplace.”
Despite their attempts at damage control, the allegations leveled against Ailes have left an indelible stain on the network. Shortly after news of the Carlson settlement was released, Greta Van Susteren, one of the network’s most popular and longest-running hosts, took advantage of her contract’s exit clause and quit her job, effective immediately. She did not give a reason for her departure, though it would be hard to deny it had something to do with the current climate at Fox News. She did release a statement on Facebook thanking her colleagues and expressing gratitude for her success at the network but ended the post with, “Fox has not felt like home to me for a few years.” Relations between Van Susteren and Murdoch have reportedly been strained for a while.
Meanwhile, Roger Ailes resigned his position in July amid the controversy, receiving $40 million from the network as a parting gift, and is now advising Donald Trump on the upcoming presidential debates. Yeah, that sounds about right. Sexually harass women, blame and/or fire them when they reject your advances, deny any wrongdoing, get your former employer to pay for your actions (and your resignation), continue to insult and degrade those who disagree with you, then go work for Trump. It makes sense, given how much the two have in common.