Nineteen former winners of the Miss America pageant are calling for chairperson Gretchen Carlson, president Regina Hopper, and the board of trustees to step down, amid allegations of bullying, control, manipulation, silencing and lack of transparency.
Former Miss America Caressa Cameron-Jackson, along with 18 other former winners, have backed the criticisms first brought by reigning titleholder Cara Mund in a five-page open letter released on Friday.
Mund’s statement included claims that, “Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis. After a while, the patterns have clearly emerged, and the sheer accumulation of the disrespect, passive-aggressive behavior, belittlement, and outright exclusion has taken a serious toll.”
In a statement on Twitter on Sunday that directly engaged Mund’s allegations, Carlson responded that, “I have never bullied or silenced you. We’ve acknowledged your grievances and taken many steps to try to make your experience a good one.”
Please see my statement in full below pic.twitter.com/rvmee4es7g
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) August 20, 2018
She also pointed out to Mund that, “actions have consequences. Friday, as an organization we learned that $75,000 in scholarships is no longer on the table as a direct result of the explosive allegations in your letter. The impact won’t stop there.”
Interviewed by Paula Faris on Good Morning America on Monday, Cameron-Jackson likened Carlson’s response to “victim shaming.”
“I’m sure [Carlson] didn’t want that when she was part of the #MeToo movement and I think that these sponsorships will return when they see that we are willing to do the right thing,” said Cameron-Jackson.
Asked if Mund’s statement and the timing of the call for resignations was poor, coming just weeks before the next Miss America is crowned, on September 9, she responded without hesitation: “No. It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.
“Just because we are asking for our chair and our CEO to step down does not mean the Miss America pageant will not happen and I think it will send a clear message — not only to our new Miss America but to the public that we are willing to do the right thing so that Miss America who is crowned on September 9 will not have to go through what Cara has gone through.”
FULL INTERVIEW: "It's never the wrong time to do the right thing."
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 20, 2018
Miss America 1984 Suzette Charles also appeared on TV on Monday to defend Mund, telling Megyn Kelly that Carlson “has been bullying for a long time,” and denying the current Miss America the opportunity to be the face and voice of the organization. She was joined by Miss America 1995, Heather Whitestone.
Carlson, herself a Miss America winner in 1989, took over as CEO in January after the previous leadership were accused of sexism and fat-shaming contestants. She had already became an outspoken voice for sexual harassment victims when her lawsuit against her former employer, Fox News, exposed longstanding misconduct by former chairman Roger Ailes. In sweeping changes announced in June, the Miss America organization said they would be eliminating the swimsuit competition and no longer judge contestants based on physical appearance.
Read the full story at The Daily Mail.