Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of Fox News, “vigorously” denied the sexual harassment claims made by former anchor Gretchen Carlson in a bombshell lawsuit.
Carlson announced Wednesday that she had been fired June 23 as host of “The Real Story,” and she filed a lawsuit claiming that she lost her job for refusing Ailes’ sexual advances.
Ailes issued a statement late Wednesday denying the claims, which Carlson’s attorneys said had led 10 women to contact them with similar complaints about the Fox New chief.
“Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false,” Ailes said in the statement. “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. 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.”
CNN Money has reported that ratings for Carlson’s “Real Story” program had fallen behind CNN’s programming during the 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. hour for the critical 25- to 54-year-old demographic, but her lawsuit claims the program consistently ranked among the top programs in her time slot.
“Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book,” Ailes said. “This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.”
Carlson had worked for Fox News since 2005, and she complained about a “pervasive” sexist culture at the conservative news network and singled out “Fox and Friends” host Steve Doocy as a habitual offender.
“I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career,” Carlson said in a statement. “Although this was a difficult step to take, I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace.”