The summer of 2016 was a tumultuous season for Fox News.
In July, Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News anchor, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, “one of the most influential executives in American television history,” according to the Washington Post. This suit led to the ousting of Ailes two weeks later and also sparked nationwide scrutiny toward the Fox News workplace, resulting in the payout of $20 million to Carlson on Tuesday, Sept. 6, according to The New York Times.
Carlson filed the lawsuit against Ailes on Wednesday, July 6, saying that after she endured Ailes’s sexual harassment and refused his advances, she was demoted and eventually fired from Fox News. This is a claim that Ailes has consistently denied, according to the Washington Post.
While 20 other women have come forward with claims against Ailes, two other sexual harassment settlements with unknown compensation amounts have also been settled, according to The New York Times. The Washington Post reported that these financial compensations were paid in a haste to finally end Fox News’s summer of bad publicity.
Owned by Rupert Murdoch and his two sons, Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, agreed to the payment. No portion of Ailes’s exit agreement from Fox of $40 million was contributed to Carlson’s allocated $20 million, according to The New York Times. In addition to the payment, the company issued a rare apology in the form of a statement: “Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve,” part of it read.
Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer experienced in sexual harassment lawsuits, said that due to the sensational payout, Carlson was right and, in fact, treated inappropriately, according to the Washington Post.
Another reason for Carlson’s overwhelming victory was her alleged recordings of her meetings with Ailes for a year and half that included damning evidence, according to the New York Times.
The “unprecedented in size” payment deriving from an individual sexual harassment case was followed by another event that sent shocks rippling through Fox: the hasty resignation of well-known Fox host Greta Van Susteren, according to the Washington Post. According to the network’s officials, the two events are unrelated and coincidental. Susteren’s exit from Fox follows a tense meeting between her and Murdoch about renegotiating contract terms, just days after Ailes’s departure, The New York Times reported.
The circumstances behind Susteren’s sudden departure remain ambiguous, as she had originally defended Ailes by saying that Carlson was disgruntled and that the lawsuit “is very suspicious,” according to The New York Times.
Despite her victory, Carlson doesn’t plan to disappear from the spotlight following the settlement of her suit. According to The New York Times, Carlson released a statement on Tuesday, Sept. 6, in which she stated she is “ready to move onto the next chapter of (her) life, in which (she) will redouble (her) efforts to empower women in the workplace.”