Fox News offers public apology to Gretchen Carlson, settles Roger Ailes sexual harassment suit for $20 million

Unprecedented multi-million dollar settlement comes on the same day veteran host Greta Van Susteren quits Fox News

By Sophia Tesfaye
Published September 6, 2016 1:34PM (EDT)
Roger Ailes, Gretchen Carlson   (Reuters/Fred Prouser/AP/Richard Drew)
Roger Ailes, Gretchen Carlson (Reuters/Fred Prouser/AP/Richard Drew)

Fox News has agreed to settle former host Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment lawsuit against ex-CEO Roger Ailes for $20 million, Vanity Fair reported on Tuesday.

"We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve," the public apology from the network read.

Carlson filed a lawsuit back in early July alleging that she was fired from her job for refusing to have sex with the powerful Fox News CEO. Ailes, 85, was paid $40 million -- the remainder he was owed under the terms of his multi-year contract -- to leave Fox News less than a month later. Ailes, who has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, has reportedly gone on to advise the Donald Trump presidential campaign on debate preparation.

According to Fox News observer Gabriel Sherman, who has come under recent attack from Ailes for his reporting on the sexual harassment allegations, sources close to the negotiations say Ailes is personally paying for a portion of Carlson's $20 million settlement.

The former "Fox & Friends" and "Real Story" host released a statement shortly after 21st Century Fox confirmed the settlement:

I am gratified that 21st Century Fox took decisive action after I filed my Complaint. I'm ready to move on to the next chapter of my life in which I will redouble my efforts to empower women in the workplace. I want to thank all the brave women who came forward to tell their own stories and the many people across the country who embraced and supported me in their #StandWithGretchen. All women deserve a dignified and respectful workplace in which talent, hard work and loyalty are recognized, revered and rewarded.

According to Vanity Fair, the company has also reached a settlement with two other women who alleged sexual harassment by Ailes.

The public apology on behalf of Ailes comes on the same day veteran Fox News host Greta Van Susteren announced her departure from the network. After 14 years with Fox News, the network announced Van Susteren was leaving her primetime show "On the Record" effective immediately. Van Susteren was one of the first on-air talents to publicly defend Ailes against the sexual harassment charges when her colleague Carlson first made the accusations.

"Of course, the first thing that occurred to me is that, unfortunately, we have a disgruntled employee, a colleague," Van Susteren told People Magazine back in July, adding that "most people, man or woman, would give anything to have had the air time [Carlson] had on 'Fox & Friends.'"

"I read that her show wasn't being renewed and , being a lawyer, I thought she got angry. I deal with Roger Ailes often. I've often been alone with Roger Ailes in his office over the course of 15 years and I've never seen anything like what I'm reading about in the papers and the magazine," Van Susteren told the magazine.

"People come to me because I've been there so long," she continued. "That's why this doesn't have any ring of truth to me. I would have heard it. People don't keep things silent."

According to Fox News' Howard Kurtz, Van Susteren asked to renegotiate her contract after Ailes left. When negotiations deadlocked, Van Susteren chose to invoke a “key man” clause allowing her to leave the network if Ailes departed.

"Fox has not felt like home to me for a few years," the former host wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday.

Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine, recently named co-presidents of Fox News following Ailes' ousting, said in a statement: “We are grateful for Greta's many contributions over the years and wish her continued success."

Brit Hume will take over as the new host of "On the Record." Abernethy and Shine said Van Susteren's replacement is "one of the best political analysts in the industry":

Brit is the ideal choice to host a nightly political program while the most dynamic and captivating election in recent history unfolds. Having Brit at the helm of this show will enable FOX News to continue on track to have its highest-rated year ever as the network dominates the cable news landscape.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Fox News Greta Van Susteren Gretchen Carlson Roger Ailes