Miss America Alums Are Calling For The Board To Resign

screenshot of Savvy Shields winning Miss America 2017 from youtube video

Last week, Miss America alums Gretchen Carlson and Kate Shindle called for the resignation of Sam Haskell, the Executive Chairman and CEO of Miss America Organization (MAO). The calls for Haskell's removal came in response to the publication of an investigative report revealing shocking communications between Haskell and MAO staff. For example, Miss America alum Kate Shindell voiced concern in a social media statement. Shindell wrote her belief in Miss America could only endure if Haskell left:

I still believe that Miss America has relevance and purpose in 2017 and beyond. But in order to achieve that purpose, the entire Board of Directors must immediately resign, including and especially Sam Haskell. Only then can the women of Miss America reclaim its rich history and catalyse what is a clearly necessary evolution.

On Twitter, Kate Shindell explained she had read the Huffington Post's original investigative report and learned of the troubling messages between Sam Haskell and MAO staff, including Lewis Friedman, the lead writer of the pageant's television production. For instance, Shindell discovered Friedman and Haskell joked about calling women offensive names. She found people had distributed photos of her and added degrading comments. Plus, Shindell read a production staff member wished she were dead and the MAO Board of Directors "conspired to change the rules of the competition specifically to destroy another Miss America's business."

Similarly, Miss America alum Gretchen Carlson tweeted a call for Sam Haskell to resign. Carlson expressed being "deeply shocked and deeply saddened by the disgusting statements about women," and tweeted:

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In response to the investigative report as well as statements from Miss America alums, the MAO Board of Directors first voted to suspend Haskell. Later, an MAO spokesperson told E! the organization had decided to "terminate the relationship with the most egregious author of inappropriate comments." Also, in a statement, the Board announced it had begun "an in-depth investigation" into Sam Haskell's messages as well as "the nature in which they were obtained."

Sam Haskell released a statement after submitting to the suspension and questioned the nature of how the messages came to light. He called the initial investigative report a "vicious story" about "a series of conveniently edited emails," and he maintained there was more to the story than met the eye:

Much of what was reported is dishonest, deceptive, and despicable. The material is based on private emails that were stolen three years ago by ex-employees. The story is so unkind and untrue, and hurts me, my family, and the stewardship of this non-profit. Those who know my heart know that this is not indicative of my character, nor is it indicative of my business acumen. I was under stress from a full year of attacks by two Miss Americas, and while I don't ever want to offer an excuse, I do want to offer context... My mistake is a mistake of words.

Dan Meyers, the Interim Chairman of the Board for MAO, gave a statement on behalf of the organization after the Board removed Sam Haskell. In the statement, which MAO tweeted, Meyers revealed MAO also had accepted the resignation of Chairman Lynn Weidner, though Weidner would continue her duties for up to 90 days. Meyers closed by thanking Haskell and Weidner for their efforts.

This story adds to a growing list of scandals concerning men in leadership roles behaving in unprofessional ways. It could hold implications for changes and improvements regarding appropriate business and corporate communications. Furthermore, the story could present an opportunity for MAO to determine who intercepted and distributed internal communications. We'll stay tuned to see what happens next.