Fox News to pay $20m to settle Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit

Former anchor had taken lawsuit against network’s former chief Roger Ailes

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. Photograph: Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. Photograph: Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety

 

Fox News has reached a $20 million (€18 million) settlement of former anchor Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the network’s former chief, Roger Ailes, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

The Fox News parent company, 21st Century Fox, offered a public apology to Carlson, who filed suit against Mr Ailes in July, saying he took her off a popular show and cut her pay because she refused to have a sexual relationship with him.

Mr Ailes, a former political consultant who founded the conservative news operation in 1996, left Fox less than three weeks after Ms Carlson filed suit, taking a $40 million severance package. Other women who had worked for him came forward with allegations of harassment after Ms Carlson’s suit.

Mr Ailes was the only defendant in the suit and a Fox spokesman said his contract indemnified him from employment-related claims, which is why the company is settling on his behalf.

A court filing showed Ms Carlson (50), had voluntarily dismissed her federal lawsuit in New Jersey against Mr Ailes. In a statement she said she was grateful Fox took swift action.

A statement from 21st Century Fox said, “We sincerely regret and apologise for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

Powerful forces

Fox News is still fighting sexual harassment claims in New York state court. Andrea Tantaros claims was taken off the air in April in retaliation for rebuffing Mr Ailes’s advances and complaining to top officials at Fox News.

Fox News characterised Ms Tantaros as an “opportunist”, who was taken off the air for writing a book without permission.

Mr Ailes (76), who worked on the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, became one of the most powerful forces in journalism and politics as the head of Fox News. He reportedly has been advising the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and continues as an informal adviser to Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox.

In his resignation letter, Mr Ailes did not indicate he had done anything wrong. He previously denied Ms Carlson’s allegations as well as those of star anchor Megyn Kelly.

New York magazine reported in July that Ms Kelly had told investigators hired by Fox to investigate the claims that Mr Ailes “made unwanted sexual advances toward her” about 10 years ago.

Fox News also announced on Tuesday that Greta Van Susteren, host of the “On the Record,” was leaving the network after 14 years.

Shares of Fox News fell 40 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $24.13 in late morning trading on Nasdaq.

Reuters