Fox announced Wednesday that it would launch an internal review after a lawsuit was filed by ex-anchor Gretchen Carlson alleging she was sexually harassed by CEO Roger Ailes.
Carlson alleges she was the subject of “sexually-charged comments” Ailes, who eventually fired her for rejecting his advances. The lawsuit also claims she was removed from Fox & Friends after she complained that co-host Steve Doocy was sexually harassing her.
A spokesperson for 21st Century Fox told BuzzFeed News in a statement Wednesday that an internal review would be launched in light of the allegations:
“The company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy. We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter.”
Ailes denied Carlson's claims in a 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.”
Carlson claims that when she met with Ailes to discuss the treatment, he responded by saying: “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,” according to the complaint filed in New Jersey Superior Court.
When she rebuffed the alleged advances, Carlson claims Ailes ended her career at Fox News nine months later.
The complaint also states that Carlson reported that her co-host on Fox & Friends, Doocy, had “created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way, including by putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast.”
Doocy also engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, the complaint states, by “mocking her during commercial breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on air, belittling her contributions to the show, and generally attempting to put her in her place by refusing to accept and treat her as an intelligent and insightful female journalist rather than a blond female prop.”
In a statement sent to BuzzFeed News, Carlson thanked her fans for their support:
“Thank you all for your expressions of concern and support. I see that many of you have seen the news. I will have to let this play out in court, but I want you to know that I am proud of my work and I am forever grateful for those who have supported my work. This is a difficult time, but I have to stand up for myself & all women.”
Carlson has previously written about sexual assault in her memoir Getting Real.
In the book published last year, she wrote about how early in her television career an executive suddenly “threw himself on top of me and stuck his tongue down my throat.”
She recalled another incident in the book in which a top public relations executive put his hand on her back and shoved her face into his crotch.
Richard Drew / AP