Officials at the Fox News cable network have opened an internal investigation into the lawsuit filed Wednesday by former anchor Gretchen Carlson in which she alleges she was fired from her job for declining the sexual advances of CEO Roger Ailes. Carlson is suing Ailes only — not the network. Meanwhile, Ailes denied the charges, saying the lawsuit is “defamatory” and “offensive.”
Carlson, whose career at Fox News spanned 11 years, was let go late last month after her contract expired. In her lawsuit, Carlson claims her firing was retaliatory after she brought up unfair gender-biased conduct that she was subjected to in the newsroom, and rejected flat-out sexual harassment by Ailes, the top executive at the network and one of the most powerful men not only in media but in Republican politics. The lawsuit accuses Ailes of behavior that ranged “from lewd innuendo, ogling and remarks about Ms. Carlson’s body to demands for sex as a way for her to improve her job standing.”
The media chief fired back at Carlson’s claims in a statement late Wednesday. “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,” Ailes said. “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.” According to The New York Times, Carlson’s 2 p.m. show drew an average of 1.1 million viewers daily — best in its time slot, but still the network’s lowest-rated daytime program.
Since the lawsuit was announced Wednesday, “at least 10” other women have reached out to the law firm representing Carlson saying they want to discuss Ailes’ workplace conduct, a spokesman for the firm told CNN.
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