Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson on Tuesday settled her sexual harassment lawsuit against the media company’s former CEO Roger Ailes for $20 million and a public apology—about half of what Ailes is set to make in his severance package.
“We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve,” the company said.
In the same statement, Carlson said she was “ready to move on.”
“All women deserve a dignified and respectful workplace in which talent, hard work, and loyalty are recognized, revered, and rewarded,” she said.
The imbalance between Carlson’s and Ailes’ respective rewards was noted on social media:
Carlson in July accused Ailes of having previously had her weekday talk show canceled after she rebuffed his sexual advances. The bombshell lawsuit seemed to unveil a “cesspool of sexism” behind the scenes at Fox, prompting numerous women to come forward with stories of being harassed and retaliated against, including the network’s star anchor, Megyn Kelly.
After an internal investigation by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Ailes stepped down, taking a $40 million parachute with him.
The rapid closure of the proceedings, according to Media Matters, “shows that the probe was little more than a pseudo-investigation.”
“[A]s news broke that Carlson and 21st Century Fox settled the suit, Vanity Fair reported that ‘the Paul, Weiss investigation…never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News.’ According to Vanity Fair, Paul, Weiss ‘was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture,'” Media Matters wrote.
Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of the women’s rights group UltraViolet, said Tuesday that the settlement “is proof that Fox News executives created a toxic and dangerous work environment for female employees under the leadership of Roger Ailes—one rife with sexual harassment, abuse, and retaliation. It is telling that it took two months for Gretchen Carlson to get only half of what Roger Ailes, a serial sexual abuser, got from the network.”
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“It is critical that Fox News continues to investigate all claims of sexual harassment at the network and holds the perpetrators accountable for their actions….Anything less is a slap in the face to the dozens of women who have had to work in an unsafe, harassment-filled environment during Ailes’ tenure at Fox News,” she said.