Thursday 14 December 2017

Fox News settles $20m in sexual harassment lawsuit with former presenter

Fox News issued a statement apologising to Gretchen Carlson. Photo: AP
Fox News issued a statement apologising to Gretchen Carlson. Photo: AP

David Voreacos New York

Fox News reached a settlement with its former news presenter Gretchen Carlson, whose lawsuit claiming sexual harassment sparked a widespread probe at the network and ultimately led to the demise of Roger Ailes, the Republican political strategist who built it into the most-watched US cable news network.

The settlement includes a $20m payment to Carlson, according to a person with knowledge of the terms.

"We sincerely regret and apologise for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve," parent company 21st Century Fox said, in a statement that didn't announce the financial terms.

In the same statement, Ms Carlson said, "I am ready to move on with the next chapter of my life in which I will redouble my efforts to empower women in the workplace."

Since leaving Fox, Mr Ailes has served as an adviser to Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for the White House. Ms Carlson's lawsuit against Mr Ailes depicts a workplace where sexism was rampant, from Ailes's alleged ogling and innuendos to claims that Steve Doocy mocked her and treated her as a "blond female prop" on 'Fox and Friends', where the two were hosts.

Mr Ailes (76) "sabotaged her career because she refused his advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment", claimed Ms Carlson (50) a former Miss America.

According to her complaint, Ailes commented on her legs and outfits, while trying to engage her in sexual banter. She also alleged that Mr Ailes said he had slept with three former Miss Americas, but not her.

Ms Carlson complained again last September to Ailes about his treatment of her.

She said 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." He also said "sometimes problems are easier to solve" that way, Ms Carlson claimed.

A similar lawsuit brought by ex-Fox News host Andrea Tantaros against the network and Ailes is ongoing. Tantaros is seeking almost $50m in damages, saying her tenure at Fox "devolved into a nightmare of sexual harassment".

Greta Van Susteren, host of the nightly broadcast 'On the Record', will leave Fox News after 14 years, the network said in a statement. One of the company's biggest female stars, Van Susteren had publicly denied witnessing any sexual harassment.

Irish Independent

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