In a stunning new piece from New York magazine, the twists and turns of the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson against Roger Ailes is revealed in detail. Negotiating a number of restrictive contract clauses, Carlson decided to turn the tables on Ailes and record his obscene behavior behind closed doors, proving without a doubt that Ailes’ behavior was reprehensible and reason enough for his ouster for creating a hostile work environment.
More than two dozen women have come forward against Ailes and his sexual harassment, according to New York magazine, revealing a corporate culture of corruption, paranoia, bribes, and sexism. The last straw broke Gretchen Carlson, the former host of Fox & Friends, who appeared to be the typical Fox News bobblehead: blond, chipper, right-wing, and a former Miss America. But Carlson, a feminist educated at at Stanford and Oxford, was far from an empty talking head, and was finally pushed too far.
Ailes, who ruled Fox News with an iron fist, was known to spy on employee emails and phone conversations. When Carlson had finally had enough, after being subject to a number of incidents of sexual harassment and after being demoted to poorer time slots because she, as Ailes said, “needed to get along with the boys,” Carlson turned the tables on him and began her own surveillance campaign.
As reported in New York magazine:
‘Beginning in 2014, according to a person familiar with the lawsuit, Carlson brought her iPhone to meetings in Ailes’ office and secretly recorded him saying the kinds of things he’d been saying to her all along. “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. Sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way, he said in one conversation. “I’m sure you can do sweet nothings when you want to,” he said another time.’
After capturing a number of incidents of sexual harassment over more than a year of recording their conversations, Carlson consulted employment and sexual harassment attorney, Nancy Erika Smith. Smith had won a settlement for a client in a 2008 sexual-harassment suit against then-governor of New Jersey, Donald DiFrancesco. But Carlson’s contract with Fox had a mandatory private arbitration clause, so her legal team decided to sue Ailes personally, rather than the network.
Carlson’s stealthy move allowed her and her legal team to bypass the arbitration clause, and provided enough leverage to make it Fox News’ number one priority to get rid of Roger Ailes. Many sexual harassment lawsuits can turn into a battle of “he-said, she said,” but Carlson had irrefutable proof of Ailes’ harassment.
Within two weeks of Carlson’s complaint, Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman for 21st Century Fox, ousted Ailes to forestall any further disasters for the network. The lawsuit was filed on July 6, and by July 19, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly came forth with her own accusations of sexual harassment by Ailes. Roger Ailes was then banned from the Fox News headquarters and his company email and phone disconnected that day.
Since then, numerous women have come forward with accusations of a policy of sexual harassment at Fox News, one of whom may have been as young as 16 at the time, including forced dates and demands for oral sex.
The video below from Bloomberg Politics shows the kind of low-grade condescension and harassment from Fox News’ sexist culture that finally put Gretchen Carlson on the warpath.
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