Longtime Fox News Host Says She Was Fired For Rejecting CEO’s Sexual Advances
Fox News host Gretchen Carlson is suing her former boss, CEO Roger Ailes, over allegedly firing her as retaliation for rejecting his offer of sex. As I wrote at Daily Kos, the suit comes after Carlson says she endured years of persistent sexual harassment from her fellow host, Steve Doocy.
When Carlson approached Ailes about the inappropriate behavior, the suit alleges he propositioned her for sex.
According to Reverb Press:
“When Carlson met with Ailes to discuss the discriminatory treatment to which she was being subjected, Ailes stated: ‘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,’ adding that ‘sometimes problems are easier to solve’ that way. Carlson rebuffed Ailes’ sexual demands at that meeting, and nine months later, Ailes ended her career at Fox News.”
The story sparked the kind of outrage you’d expect in the volatile world of partisan media. But amidst the public shaming of Ailes, accompanied by the usual criticisms of Fox News in general, one name has been absent from the headlines: the man whose inappropriate behavior led Carlson to seek help from HR in the first place: Steve Doocy.
Being central to the story behind Carlson’s lawsuit, he can’t escape mention. But the bloggosphere has thus far heaped scorn upon Ailes without addressing the underlying work culture issues that led to the lawsuit in the first place.
One glaring fact can no longer be ignored by anybody with a stake in the Fox News machine: the most conservative news network in the country not only denigrates women on the air, but has a woefully old-fashioned work culture that wouldn’t be out-of-place in the Golden Age of advertising.
Reverb Press again:
“In 2009, Carlson says she complained to a supervisor that Steve Doocy, one of her co-hosts on Fox & Friends, ‘had created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way, including by putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast..”
The End of Fox News As We Know It?
FOX’s apparent lack of sexual harassment protocol within their HR department is almost unheard of in 2016. Carlson’s complaints were consistent, yet Doocy was not only allowed to continue working (reasonable if an internal investigation were being conducted, though there is no evidence Carlson’s charges were ever taken seriously), the CEO of the company stands accused of propositioning Carlson himself — directly.
In terms of how modern corporations handle similar cases, Fox News is positively dinosauric.
If nothing else comes of Carlson’s lawsuit, Fox will be forced to improve what has been revealed to be a sexist and hostile work culture. But the women who work for Fox News can only take so much abuse before they start speaking out. Fox risks a PR nightmare if they begin to speak out en masse.
Already, the seeds for such a scenario have been planted. According to CNN’s Brian Stelter:
“I just spoke with one of the attorneys involved in Carlson’s suit because they say they also have stories to share about treatment by Roger Ailes.”
And just like that, the dominoes will fall. Litigation is a predator hunting the sexism of yore to extinction. The end of Ailes, who has been described as ruling the network “with an iron fist”, will be the end of Fox News as we know it.
“This is a story that could have big ramifications for Fox News because Ailes has been in charge ever since it launched,” Stelter added. “You could say he rules the network with an iron fist. And he is beloved by a lot of staffers there, but he is not known for being politically correct.”
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