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Fox News has been making unpleasant headlines in recent months following the firing of anchor Gretchen Carlson from her position at the network. Carlson shortly thereafter filed a lawsuit alleging that CEO Roger Ailes had repeatedly sexually harassed her over her years at Fox News. All signs pointed toward what could have been a very ugly trial. Now, instead of allowing the case to reach the trial stage, Fox News (on behalf of Ailes) and Gretchen Carlson settled for a whopping $20 million.
Gretchen Carlson filed her suit to seek compensation for the reported damages to her career over a span of eleven years as she refused Roger Ailes' sexual advances. The suit sought reparations to make up for lost revenue, damage to her career, mental anguish, and damage to her reputation. Additionally, she sought reimbursement for the cost of the court battle and punitive damages against Ailes.
For his part, Roger Ailes denied Gretchen Carlson's accusations and instead claimed that she had been let go from Fox News due to poor ratings for her afternoon news show. According to Ailes, she only chose to file a lawsuit against the network when she realized that the network was letting her go. It was a high stakes he-said she-said scenario. The situation had already gotten ugly, and the $20 million settlement comes too late for Fox News to avoid bad press. Still, it could be a way to start making less unpleasant headlines. The network also offered an apology to Carlson for her treatment, according to Vanity Fair.
The settlement didn't come without threatening to topple Fox News' cable news ratings supremacy. Gretchen Carlson's old show actually did well after her departure, but all was not quiet on the Fox News front. Rumor had it that big news names like Bill O'Reilly, Greta Van Susteren, and Sean Hannity could all walk away from the network if Roger Ailes got the boot. On the other hand, Fox News personality Megyn Kelly came out with claims against Ailes similar to those mentioned in Carlson's lawsuit. Former The Five co-host Andrea Tantaros has since filed a lawsuit of her own against Ailes and Fox News.
Roger Ailes' resignation didn't actually result in Bill O'Reilly and Co. walking away from Fox News, and Ailes reportedly made out with a $40 million payout after making the decision to leave his post as CEO. The damage control was too late for the network to avoid a lot of bad press, but it was a step in the right direction toward reparations for Gretchen Carlson.
While it seemed likely in the wake of Roger Ailes' resignation that Gretchen Carlson would be successful in at least some areas of her lawsuit, the $20 million settlement is still staggering. Fox News may be able to ride a wave of good will as the presidential election and all its news opportunities approach. It's possible that the investigation into Carlson's claims and the subsequent settlement could be enough to convince Megyn Kelly and other anchors to stay with the network.
Only time will tell what the $20 million settlement will mean for Fox News. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for any updates to what's going on with the network moving forward.