In her first interview since Roger Ailes was fired from Fox News over multiple sexual harassment claims (but not the first since she made the claims), Gretchen Carlson told the Washington Post that she felt a mix of “vindication” and “anger” after she heard the news. Carlson told the paper that she first felt “satisfaction, or no, I think validation,” but was “angry that it took so long.”
“It’s complicated,” Carlson said of her feelings about Ailes’ firing, “there was relief that now I would be believed — and I was happy to a certain extent over that.” She added, however, that she felt no regret about the outcome.
The former Fox News personality filed a lawsuit against Ailes nearly three weeks ago. In the suit, she alleged that Ailes fired her in retaliation after she declined his sexual advances. According to Carlson’s lawsuit, Ailes told her, “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.” Carlson said that after the incident, her workload was increased, her pay reduced and, despite her show’s ratings, her contract with the network was terminated nine months later.
The timing of Carlson’s suit was widely questioned, but she dismissed those accusations. “The great majority of employment cases of all types, including sexual harassment, are filed when the employee has no choice — she has been fired,” she said. Via the Post:
Carlson said that while still working at Fox, she hung on to “that glimmer of hope that the punishment would stop, and that my work would be recognized.” She said she meant the punishment for making a complaint, but [her lawyer] added another element: that she was also being punished “for not succumbing” to Ailes’s sexual demands — “we know that would have changed things.”
The Post also asked Carlson about Megyn Kelly’s reported role. Initially, Kelly had remained silent but reports indicated that she told Fox’s internal investigators that Ailes had harassed her as well. “I appreciated that she told the truth, and I know it was risky,” Carlson said. She disagreed, however, with the assessment that Kelly had turned the proverbial tide against Ailes, pointing to the “multitude of women” who had also come forward. A report from the New York Times found nearly a dozen women who had experienced harassment while at Fox News.
While Carlson doesn’t think that her lawsuit will fundamentally change the culture of workplace harassment, she hopes that it’s “moved the conversation.” “I don’t want to tell women they won’t be retaliated against,” she added.
Megyn Kelly and her co-hosts, including Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speaking during commercial breaks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the anchors’ interactions, who described the on-set atmosphere at Fox News as icy. During ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smartphones.
For his part, Hume denied that report.