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Fox News Pays Gretchen Carlson $20 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Allegations

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Fox News Channel has settled the sexual harassment lawsuit brought by former FNC anchor Gretchen Carlson, who accused former head of Fox News Roger Ailes of a long trail of sexual harassment while she worked at the network:

The parent company of Fox News said on Tuesday that it had settled a lawsuit with its former anchor Gretchen Carlson, who said that Roger Ailes had sexually harassed her when he was chairman of the network.

A 21st Century Fox Corporation news release did not specify a settlement amount, but a person briefed on the settlement said that it amounted to $20 million.

The person also said that at least two other women had settled with Fox stemming from complaints they voiced to investigators from the law firm Paul, Weiss, Wharton & Garrison, which 21st Century Fox hired to look into the accusations against Mr. Ailes.

In its statement, the company apologized for the behavior, saying, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

Mr. Ailes resigned from Fox News on July 21, two weeks after Ms. Carlson filed her suit. Initial reports that Mr. Ailes would pay a portion of the settlement were rebutted by several people familiar with the details, including Susan Estrich, Mr. Ailes’s lawyer. “Mr. Ailes is not contributing anything,” Ms. Estrich wrote in an email.

(…)

The evidence that Ms. Carlson had in her sexual harassment case was damning, according to another person with knowledge of the settlement. For a year and a half, she had been recording her meetings with Mr. Ailes on her cellphone (in an interview with The New York Times in July, Ms. Carlson said she had been in “between six and 10” meetings with Mr. Ailes where he made provocative comments).

The vast majority of the remarks quoted directly in her lawsuit against Mr. Ailes — including lines like: “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” — were taken straight from the recordings, the person said.

Officials at 21st Century Fox became aware of the recordings after Ms. Carlson’s lawyers spoke to Paul, Weiss investigators, about three weeks after she filed the lawsuit on July 6. Settlement talks started shortly thereafter, and a deal was reached in mid-August, the person said. As part of the settlement, Ms. Carlson signed a confidentiality agreement.

Given the fact that the investigation of Carlson’s claims, which was conducted by outside attorneys hired by FNC’s parent company, uncovered multiple additional incidents of harassment by Ailes over the years that ultimately led to his departure from the network, the settlement is not entirely surprising. It isn’t being disclosed who the other women whose claims have been settled might be, although it is worth noting that among those mentioned as FNC employees who had allegedly been the subject of Ailes’ advances was Megyn Kelly, one of the top hosts on the network’s evening lineup. Kelly reportedly told investigators that she was the target of repeated advances by Ailes when she first joined the network ten years ago, but it was unclear if that harassment continued as Kelly became a more integral part of the network’s lineup. It’s also unknown if she was in fact one of the women in addition to Carlson who have settled their claims, nor is it known at this time exactly how many women made allegations against Ailes over the course of the investigation. Also unknown is whether or not there are other claims out there that may be pursued against Ailes, Fox News Channel, or both by other women. However, based on some of the reporting at the time that Ailes left the network, it seems probable that there may be more payments for Fox News to make in the future.

In addition to the announcement of the settlement with Carlson, FNC also announced the departure of one its longest serving program hosts:

Additionally, Fox News abruptly announced — just minutes after 21st Century Fox confirmed the settlement with Ms. Carlson — the departure of Greta Van Susteren, one of the network’s most recognizable talents. Ms. Van Susteren had been with Fox News for 14 years, and her departure was effective immediately: Brit Hume will take over her 7 p.m. time slot, beginning on Tuesday night.

A financial disagreement with the network led to Ms. Van Susteren’s exit, according to a person familiar with the situation. Ms. Van Susteren was only informed in writing on Tuesday of her departure, the person said, and had expected to go on the air Tuesday night.

Her contract was not immediately up for renewal, the person said.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Ms. Van Susteren wrote that she decided to leave the network late last week, saying, “Fox has not felt like home to me for a few years.” She said that she “could not wait” because of a time-limited exit clause in her contract.

Ms. Van Susteren’s husband, John P. Coale, said in a phone interview on Tuesday that his wife exercised what is known as “key man clause” on Friday, which allowed her to leave if Mr. Ailes was not in control.

He said, “There’s so much chaos, it’s very hard to work there.” He said the timing of her departure with the announcement of the settlement with Ms. Carlson was a “coincidence.”

Asked about why she had exercised the key man clause, he said, “There’s more than meets the eye” and that there “might be litigation in the future” so he did not want to talk further.

Other Fox News hosts known or believed to have a “key man clause” in their contracts linked to Ailes are Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, but its unknown if they will choose to exercise their right to get out of their contracts in the wake of Ailes’ departure. Ailes, meanwhile, is allegedly serving as a key adviser to Donald Trump during the final months of the campaign although not officially a campaign employee. Ailes becoming involved with the Trump campaign has led many to speculate that Trump’s ‘Plan B’ should be lose the election would be starting some kind of news/opinion network, perhaps beginning as an online effort in the manner of Glenn Beck’s venture ‘The Blaze,’ which also broadcasts at least some of its content on a limited number of cable providers. If that’s the case, having a stable of established talent such as van Susteran, Hannity, and O’Reilly would certainly be the way to start it. .In any case, one suspects that van Susteran may not be the last departure from Fox News. As they did the last time her contract was up, rumors are once again circulating that Megyn Kelly is being courted by other news outlets, especially in the wake of her well-publicized dispute with Donald Trump last year. Whether that means she’ll be leaving the network is unclear, but it does seem clear that Carlson’s accusations set a process in motion that could lead to many changes at America’s most watched news network.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Carlson gets harrassed and gets $20M.
    Ailes is told to leave and gets $40M.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

  2. Thor thormussen says:

    she had multiple Ailes conversations on tape. They really didn’t want that tape getting out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. Thor thormussen says:

    And Greta leaving her news show 2 months before the presidential election?!?!?!?!. We are Definitely going to hear more there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  4. michael reynolds says:

    The news network most closely allied with Trump, and most hostile to Hillary, is run by men who treat women like crap. What a shock.

    And across America millions of ‘good,’ and ‘god-fearing’ conservative folks never even pause to consider that they’ve been supporting a thuggish enterprise, or take a moment to wonder why they’ve let themselves be brainwashed by a pig.

    Is there anyone more consistently full of shit than conservatives? Do they actually believe anything? Do they have any real convictions? Or are they just outrage-junkies who’ll forgive their dealer for anything so long as they get that sweet, sweet rage fix?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 2

  5. stonetools says:

    Fox looks like it’s falling apart. Good.
    There’s no way Fox would survive an extended discovery process, with Megan Kelly and Lord how many women coming out of the woodwork as likely witnesses and with all the Fox top brass being deposed. I bet we’ll see a LOT of settlements.

    Ailes is told to leave and gets $40M.

    He better save his money. He’s going to need it.

    And Greta leaving her news show 2 months before the presidential election?!?!?!?!.

    No loyalty, eh, Greta? Wonder if she’ll end up at CNN.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  6. Hal_10000 says:

    I wonder what Hannity and Rivera will say about their stalwart defenses of Ailes

    Just kidding, I’m not wondering.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  7. CSK says:

    @stonetools:

    She came from CNN. Fox outbid them in 2002, and she went to Fox.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Scott says:

    I’m a little confused. I thought Carlson strategically filed against Ailes, not Fox. But Fox settles. How does that work?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. @stonetools:

    Fox looks like it’s falling apart. Good.

    Part of me concurs and part of me fears what comes next.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  10. Jen says:

    What comes next? Trump TV.

    This piece explains Greta leaving.

    The only thing that has been said about the payment of the settlement is a fairly terse confirmation from 21st C. Fox that they will be paying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. CB says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And across America millions of ‘good,’ and ‘god-fearing’ conservative folks never even pause to consider that they’ve been supporting a thuggish enterprise, or take a moment to wonder why they’ve let themselves be brainwashed by a pig.

    Because they don’t know. Because they only watch Fox News.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    What comes next is TNN. I probably don’t have to explain the T.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  12. Thor thormussen says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Is there anyone more consistently full of shit than conservatives? Do they actually believe anything? Do they have any real convictions? Or are they just outrage-junkies who’ll forgive their dealer for anything so long as they get that sweet, sweet rage fix?

    If you want to actually understand them, this would be a good first start:

    What a liberal sociologist learned from spending five years in Trump’s America

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. Andre Kenji says:

    I´ve never really liked Gretchen Carlson, but the way that she and Megyn Kelly destroyed Roger Ailes was fantastic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    (Laughing). You were saying, or was it spittle spewing, something about a good rage fix?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 14

  15. Eric Florack says:

    So right in the middle of the presidential election involving Hillary Clinton, the only news agency in the country that’s willing to seriously oppose the woman by actually reporting on her ends up in Scandal. I suppose it’s all a coincidence.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 26

  16. SKI says:

    @Scott:

    I’m a little confused. I thought Carlson strategically filed against Ailes, not Fox. But Fox settles. How does that work?

    Mess avoidance.
    1. They wanted this to die, not go into discovery – ugly and messy.
    2. They probably had an indemnification agreement with Ailes and while they could argue that his conduct put him outside the agreement, it would have gotten very messy.
    3. The strategy was b/c she had a mandatory arbitration provision in her agreement. It may not have been enforceable in this situation – and fighting about it would have been messy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  17. Senyordave says:

    @Eric Florack: So right in the middle of the presidential election involving Hillary Clinton, the only news agency in the country that’s willing to seriously oppose the woman by actually reporting on her ends up in Scandal. I suppose it’s all a coincidence.

    Is this the “bitch set me up” defense? Has it occurred to you that Carlson had tapes of Ailes, and that there are multiple women who have similar claims?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  18. Blue Galangal says:

    @Senyordave:

    Is this the “bitch set me up” defense? Has it occurred to you that Carlson had tapes of Ailes, and that there are multiple women who have similar claims?

    Remember, conservatives exist in a post-factual universe now.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  19. Gavrilo says:

    Why is the left so obsessed with Roger Ailes’ sex life? It’s none of our business!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  20. @Gavrilo:

    : “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”

    Said the employer to the employee.

    This is not about Ailes’ sex life, but about workplace harassment. This shouldn’t be all that hard to understand.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  21. Pch101 says:

    @Eric Florack:

    In addition to your obvious blinders to Ailes’ sexual harassment hobby, I find it amusing that you believe that a supposed news network should be actively trying to take down a particular presidential candidate. News is supposed to be “fair and balanced,” isn’t it?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    Is this how you treat female employees Drew? Are you a misogynist as well as a racist? I mean, come on, you’re free now, Cheetoh Jesus has set you free of political correctness. Time to let your inner pig squeal proudly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  23. Gavrilo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It was very hard for the left to understand when Paula Jones accused Bill Clinton of workplace sexual harassment (which he ultimately settled, btw.) The left went all-in defending Clinton, denigrating all the women he abused. Today, he’s a revered figure on the left. For eight years, all I heard was that conservatives were obsessed by his sex life and that it was none of our business who he was sleeping with.

    That you didn’t get my analogy is pretty pathetic for a political science professor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  24. @Gavrilo: I understand where you are coming from quite well.

    I will note, however, that what happened or did not happen in Case X does not mitigate or change what happened in Case Y.

    You are playing a silly game.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  25. Joe says:

    @Senyordave:

    So, @Eric Florack believes that all of the women at Fox News have only been a sleeper cell waiting to awake and do Hillary’s bidding? Bwahahahahahahaha.

    I don’t know if it’s more entertaining to make fun of this argument or to believe it. It’s so perfect either way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  26. Pch101 says:

    @Gavrilo:

    Paula Jones’ credibility is questionable. Gretchen Carlson’s isn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  27. Gavrilo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Governor Bill Clinton dropped his pants and told an Arkansas state employee to “kiss it.” Attorney General Bill Clinton was accused of a violent rape by Juanita Broaddrick. President Bill Clinton was accused of sexually assaulting Kathleen Willey in the White House.

    Roger Ailes is accused of telling Gretchen Carlson that they should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.

    Unless you are prepared to heap a proportionate amount of scorn on Bill Clinton as you are Roger Ailes, you are a hypocrite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  28. @Gavrilo:

    Unless you are prepared to heap a proportionate amount of scorn on Bill Clinton as you are Roger Ailes, you are a hypocrite.

    Doesn’t this mean that rather than using the Clinton example as a way of dismissing the Ailes’ charges that you should be really going hard after Ailes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  29. @Gavrilo: Beyond that, yelling “Look, over there!” is diversionary. This post is not about Bill Clinton.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  30. Thor thormussen says:

    LOL What are your thoughts on Robert Byrd, Gavrilo?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  31. @Thor thormussen: It is my understanding that because Byrd was a member of the KKK and has used terribly racist language on film that no Democrat can ever raise the issue of racism (or something along those lines).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  32. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I would add that, in terms of the timeline of cultural understanding of what constitutes workplace harassment, Paula Jones is much closer in time to Anita Hill than she is to Gretchen Carlson.

    The boorish behavior of a good number of Senators towards Ms. Hill – on *both* sides of the aisle – were noted but dismissed as unremarkable by most in Washington and in the media twenty-five years ago. I do not believe that the same would be true today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  33. Gavrilo says:

    @Thor thormussen:

    Roberty Byrd is a fantastic example of left-wing hypocrisy. A segregationist, former Klan member, Byrd, by his own admission, didn’t change his views on race until 1982. Nineteen Eighty Two! Just after he finished his first term as Senate Majority Leader. Not long after Ronald Reagan was first elected. For over 35 years, the left has told us that Reagan’s Neshoba County Fair “states’ rights” speech was a coded appeal to southern racists and a seminal event in the political realignment of the country. Yet, on the day he gave that speech, the Senate Majority Leader, unanimously elected by the Democratic Caucus, arguably the third most powerful elected official in the country, was an unreconstructed segregationist who had participated in the filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    No, Democrats can talk about race, but it’s the height of hypocrisy to accuse the Republican party of being the party of racists because of Nixon’s Southern Strategy or Reagan’s states rights speech or Strom Thurmond when the Democratic Caucuses in the House and Senate were full of actual segregationists well into the 1980s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  34. Pch101 says:

    Robert Byrd voted for the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

    But even if he hadn’t, his vote wouldn’t clear Roger Ailes of anything. Trying to change the subject is a lame tactic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @Gavrilo:

    Jesus Christ, dude, you’re being thick.

    We are not all prisoners of the past. It is possible to have believed Something Stupid in 1970 that we repent of in 1990. Right? Byrd repented and made restitution in the rest of his career, which is what we want because that’s the only way progress can be made. Right? We need people who were wrong to become right.

    So obviously a guy who was wrong in 1970 but right by 1990 deserves praise, while another guy who was equally wrong in 1970 and still just as in 1990 and still just as wrong in 2016 deserves a degree of opprobrium.

    Is there any part of that you disagree with?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  36. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Is there any part of that you disagree with?

    The logical part.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  37. Gavrilo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The point isn’t whether or not Robert Byrd or any of the other southern racists in the Democratic Party “repented.” The point is that Democrats bludgeon Republicans for the supposed sins of the Southern Strategy, Strom Thurmond, and Reagan’s coded appeal to “states rights” while their own contemporary history was way worse. In 1972, when Nixon launched the Southern Strategy, the Democratic Party was still the home of dozens of Senators and Congressmen who had actively fought against Civil Rights, were avowed racists, and few of whom ever publicly “repented,” at least not in 1972. For every Strom Thurmond who switched parties, there are dozens of racist Democrats who did not switch parties, continued to run and win elections as Democrats, were chosen to chair important committees in Congress and were well regarded by their Northern Democratic colleagues. And, as I mentioned previously, the Democrats in the U.S. Senate proudly and unanimously picked an unrepentant racist (until 1982) to lead the caucus at the same time Ronald Reagan was supposedly offering his coded appeal to white, southern voters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  38. Thor thormussen says:

    Gavrilo says:
    Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 13:45
    @Thor thormussen:

    Roberty Byrd is a fantastic example of left-wing hypocrisy. A segregationist, former Klan member, Byrd, by his own admission, didn’t change his views on race until 1982. Nineteen Eighty Two! Just after he finished his first term as Senate Majority Leader. Not long after Ronald Reagan was first elected. For over 35 years, the left has told us that Reagan’s Neshoba County Fair “states’ rights” speech was a coded appeal to southern racists and a seminal event in the political realignment of the country. Yet, on the day he gave that speech, the Senate Majority Leader, unanimously elected by the Democratic Caucus, arguably the third most powerful elected official in the country, was an unreconstructed segregationist who had participated in the filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    WOW. Are you really as un-self-aware as that reply suggests?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @Gavrilo:

    No, we do not beat up on the GOP because of the Southern Strategy, we beat up on the GOP for still believing in the Southern Strategy 48 years later.

    Really, this is not hard to understand is it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  40. michael reynolds says:

    @Gavrilo:

    And by the way, saying that Byrd was an ‘unreconstructed racist’ is simply a lie.

    When your argument rests on deliberately obtuse reasoning and outright lies, it might be time to reconsider regurgitating right-wing talking points.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  41. Thor thormussen says:

    my comment wasn’t supposed to be taken at face value.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  42. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Thor thormussen:

    Satire is hard for conservatives, who think Al Gore flying in a plane invalidates all climate science. QED, libtard!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  43. grumpy realist says:

    @Thor thormussen: He’s scampering away from the topic of Ailes’ sexual harassing because he knows it’s not a case of he said/she said (as in the Paula Jones case) but actual evidence (utterances which were taped by Gretchen.)

    It’s the difference between saying “he did it!” and catching him red-handed on video with the bloody knife and his fingerprints all over it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  44. @Gavrilo: Your griping about the Southern strategy might have more resonance if the current nominee of the party wasn’t overtly appealing to xenophobia and white nationalism.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  45. Pete S says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yes, this. Even if Byrd had never changed his views it does not matter. There is no excuse for being a racist today, even if some of your political opponents were racists 30 years ago. This isn’t hard to understand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  46. Lit3Bolt says:

    For some Republicans, its always 1865, even if all of them are racist, xenophobic Southerners/Midwesterners now. Because irony is hard for the stupid white male tribalist gangster.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0