I don’t like to throw around the word “bombshell” very often, but a fairly large one landed on Wednesday when former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer alleging that she was let go after she refused to have sex with CEO Roger Ailes. She’s also claiming that she was forced to tolerate some questionable treatment from a few of her male colleagues.
As I tend to do with most things in my life, I always encourage people to wait for more facts to come out before jumping to conclusions.
However, in this case, I see no reason why Carlson would lie or make any of this up. She’s a talented news person who could easily get a job with any of the other networks. She would be risking career suicide to make these allegations against Fox News and Roger Ailes, only for it to be found out later that none of it was true.
So, in this instance, while I still want to see more facts of the case (though I get the feeling this will be settled out of court), I don’t see any rational reason why Carlson would be lying about this.
Especially with new information that was reported by CNN concerning ten more women who have contacted Carlson’s lawyers alleging they, too, have stories regarding the behavior of Roger Ailes.
Now, that’s really bad.
I get that it might seem suspicious to some seeing other people come forward after Carlson came out publicly with her lawsuit. Obviously, Ailes’ defenders are going to claim she’s out for revenge (which is essentially what Ailes is claiming this is about) while these others are piling on in some sort of “money grab.”
However, often the reason this happens is because some were simply too scared to come forward (or were too intimidated to do so) and felt more confident about discussing what had happened to them after someone finally took a stand. Especially an individual like Carlson who has the fame and notoriety to give this situation the attention it deserves.
The sad reality is that someone like Roger Ailes could easily intimidate or harass someone who was just an intern or low-level employee who we’ve never heard of, potentially making their life (both personally and professionally) a living hell — but he can’t do that with Gretchen Carlson. She’s far too well-known to intimidate or harass and, as long as she’s being honest, there’s nothing he could really do to hurt her professionally.
Just look at the Bill Cosby situation. Not too long ago he was beloved by millions and considered a role model to many, especially within the black community. Then after one comedian mentioned the various sexual assault allegations that most people had no idea even existed against Cosby, the floodgates opened. As it stands now, I believe around 55 women have come forward alleging that Cosby sexually assaulted them.
That’s why I sense that things are about to get really ugly over at Fox News.
It’s one thing for a former employee to bring this up because, as Ailes is doing, he’s claiming that the allegations are false and that this is simply her reaction to her contract not being renewed. Except, if more women start coming forward with similar allegations (as apparently ten may have already done to her lawyers) then his defense against Carlson’s fairly damning allegations isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense. His accusation that this is all about a “disgruntled former employee” was a fairly predictable response to what she’s accusing him of doing.
We also can’t forget that she was apparently treated unfairly by some of her former male employees, as well. So this isn’t just about going after Ailes, she’s throwing out quite a few allegations that seem to paint a picture where sexual harassment and sexism is fairly common at Fox News.
While there’s still much more that I’m sure we’re going to find out about this situation, it’s not a good sign for Fox News or Roger Ailes that Carlson came forward with this lawsuit, then ten more women were almost immediately in contact with her lawyers with stories they wanted to share about their dealings with the network’s CEO. If history is any indication of what we can expect (and it typically is), this one lawsuit could very well be the catalyst that exposes a whole lot of inside secrets that Fox News certainly doesn’t want the public to know about.