Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson has sued Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and retaliation. The lawsuit alleges that Carlson was fired after refusing to sleep with Ailes.
According to the lawsuit, Carlson was sexually harassed by Steve Doocy, her co-host on Fox & Friends. Carlson reported the incidents to her supervisor and then went to discuss it with Ailes. Ailes responded, allegedly, by calling her a “man killer.” Ailes then cut her appearances on The O’Reilly Factor, the top show on cable news, and cut back on her appearances on her show.
Doocy is not being sued by Carlson.
Eventually, Ailes moved Carlson off of Fox & Friends and into the 2 PM time slot. The lawsuit alleges that this was retaliation for her not acquiescing to the harassment. The show was a moderate success. It led its timeslot most times and beat Fox & Friends, Carlson’s former show, in total viewers in the second quarter of 2016. However, it was last among Fox News shows in the age demo of 25-54 which is the the key ratings for advertisers.
When Carlson confronted Ailes again in 2015, 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.”
Ailes responded in a statement:
Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false. This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.
21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, said in a statement, “The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy. We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter.”