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Fox News has never been a network to take allegations lying down. This week, the network was sued by former employee Gretchen Carlson, who alleges that during her time at Fox News she dealt with a sexual harassment from several employees, namely stating that Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was the problem. This morning, Fox News fired back with a statement from Roger Ailes rebutting all claims and otherwise explaining exactly why the network decided to fire Gretchen Carlson. He claims Carlson's allegations are not only false, but offensive, as well. Here's the full 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.
So, in Roger Ailes' eyes, Gretchen Carlson was fired for poor performance and only then did she decide to sue the network for behind-the-scenes shenanigans she alleges occurred. On the other side of the suit, Carlson has claimed that the CEO actually made sexual advances toward her. She also says that comments were made of a sexualized nature that made her uncomfortable. When she asserted herself to Roger Ailes and stated she did not want to date him, that's when he allegedly took action and fired her.
Of course, Roger Ailes' and Fox News are claiming that the firing occurred as the due course after Gretchen Carlson's contributions became increasingly unsatisfactory. Reports indicate that The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson was underperforming in the 3 p.m. slot in the 25-54 demographic. Carlson has alleged she was moved from the coveted Fox & Friends position to an afternoon hour with less pay after she told Roger Ailes she was not interested in a relationship and that underperformance had nothing to do with it. It's sort of like comparing apples to oranges; afternoons can be harder for TV shows, although they are competing against an entirely different TV demographic than morning shows like Fox & Friends. So, at the root of this is the question of why Carlson was moved to the new hour in the first place.
Gretchen Carlson also made her own statement:
I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career. Although this was a difficult step to take, I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace.
These sort of he-said, she-said issues can get really ugly. Words and ideas get twisted and sometimes ugly stuff comes out in the courts. We'll have to wait and see if the lawsuit gets that far, but considering that both Gretchen Carlson and Roger Ailes came out swinging, this doesn't look to be the sort of lawsuit that will be going away soon. We'll keep you updated, regardless of what ends up happening.