Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who’s allegations of sexual harassment against former network chairman CEO Roger Ailes ultimately led to his ouster, likened her own experience with the dozens of women who accused Donald Trump of similar misconduct, telling the Daily Beast “this is something that is personal for me.”
“Let me be clear about President Trump, I don’t think I could have written this book without talking about that,” Carlson told the Daily Beast during an interview about her upcoming book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back. “This is part of our national dialogue.”
Carlson was referring in particular to a 2005 Access Hollywood tape that surfaced less than a month before the 2016 presidential election. In it, Trump can be clearly heard bragging about sexual assault, telling reporter Billy Bush “when you’re a star … you can do anything.”
“On October 7, 2016, an outtake from a 2005 Access Hollywood appearance showed Donald Trump speaking proudly about his approach to women in the most vulgar manner,” Carlson writes in her book. “His claim that his celebrity status gave him license to ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ is burned into all of our brains.”
“The tape broke a spell among women who said they had been sexually harassed or assaulted by Trump, and many of them courageously came forward,” she continues. “The Miss USA contestant who said he had kissed her twice without permission; the woman who said he had groped her on a plane; the receptionist who said he had kissed her in a Trump Tower elevator; the People magazine writer who said he assaulted her at Mar-a-Lago when she was there to interview him and his wife; the Miss Teen USA contestants who said he walked in on and observed them while they were dressing; the Apprentice contestant who said he had kissed and touched her against her will—and on and on.”
It mirrored the experience of Carlson and numerous other women at Fox News, after the longtime host filed a lawsuit against Ailes on June 23, 2016, charging him with sexual assault. That lawsuit sparked a wave of accusations by current and former Fox News employees and on-air talent, who alleged the Fox News chairman engaged in sexual misconduct. Less than a month later, Ailes was forced to resign under pressure from the network.
In April, the New York Times reported Fox News paid out $13 million to five women who’d accused then-anchor Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment (when asked about the report, Trump insisted his longtime friend is “a good person” he doesn’t think did anything wrong). Two weeks after the Times report was published, Fox News announced O’Reilly will not return to the anchors’ chair.
Despite the sexual harassment claims, O’Reilly still finds himself welcome at the network. Last week, he appeared on Sean Hannity’s show to hype his new book, Killing England. Tonight, he’ll appear on Hannity’s radio show to discuss “Killing England knocking Hillary Clinton from #1 spot on best seller lists!”
Carlson called O’Reilly tentative return to the network “shocking.”
“First of all, I think it’s shocking for any company to bring someone back under those circumstances,” she told the Daily Beast.
Carlson explained one of the reasons she wrote the book is “because we need to figure out better ways to deal with sexual harassment other than secret arbitration and settlements,” noting how allegations and subsequent settlements “handcuff the women to never talk about any of it,” while people like O’Reilly are welcome back on air.
“In the circumstance you’re talking about, there’s only one side of the story getting out,” she explained. “Why? Because the women involved in any if those alleged settlements can’t speak up.”
“We can’t continue as a culture to only give women two options, and in many of those cases, the harassers can still stay in the workplace,” she added.