Gretchen Carlson Speaks Out About Sexual Harassment Lawsuit: "I Just Wanted to Stand Up for Myself"
In her first interview since she filed a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, the former Fox News host added, “I wanted to stand up for other women who maybe faced similar circumstances.”
"It's hard when you've been a victim — you keep thinking things are going to get better."
Carlson filed a lawsuit July 6 claiming that she was let go from Fox News as retaliation for rebuffing Ailes' sexual advances. According to the complaint, "When Carlson met with Ailes to discuss the discriminatory treatment to which she was being subjected, Ailes stated: 'I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you'd be good and better and I'd be good and better,' adding that 'sometimes problems are easier to solve' that way."
Carlson, who hosted The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson, also said that her Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy "had created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way."
In the interview, Carlson discussed her time at the network and why she "finally felt it was time" to file the lawsuit.
"I just wanted to stand up for myself, first and foremost," said Carlson. "And I wanted to stand up for other women who maybe faced similar circumstances."
Carlson, who answered the interviewer's questions with the help of her attorneys Nancy Erika Smith and Martin Hyman, said that during her time at Fox News, she had "between six and 10" meetings with Ailes to discuss his "continuous" sexist language that he used with her, but those meetings went nowhere. "Everyone knew how powerful Roger Ailes was. I certainly felt intimidated by that," Carlson added, addressing a possible systemic problem at the network. "The culture of Fox & Friends was intimidating to me."
Ailes has denied the sexual harassment charges, and several Fox News anchors have come forward to defend the chairman. Ailes released a statement in response to Carlson's lawsuit that read: "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. … This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously."
About the meeting in which she learned her contract wouldn't be renewed, Carlson told The New York Times: "It took 30 seconds, there was no 'Thank you for your service of 11 years,' and there was absolutely no discussion of ratings."
Fox News released several handwritten notes Carlson had sent to Ailes during her time there, thanking him for opportunities with Fox News, presumably to suggest that she was happy at the network while there. But Carlson says she just thought the situation would improve. "I think it's hard when you've been a victim," she said, "you keep thinking things are going to get better."