Gretchen Carlson Sues Fox News CEO Roger Ailes

     HACKENSACK, N.J. (CN) — After mysteriously disappearing from Fox News airwaves last month, former anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson filed suit Wednesday against network CEO Roger Ailes.
     The eight-page complaint in Bergen County Superior Court says Ailes fired Carlson and “sabotaged her career” because she complained about workplace harassment and refused his sexual advances.     
     Ailes, who is a resident of Cresskill, New Jersey, blasted the lawsuit as retaliatory. He said Fox did not renew Carlson’s contract simply because “her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup.”
     “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 in a statement. “This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.”
     A fixture of the popular morning show “Fox & Friends” for over seven years, Carlson says she started complaining in 2009 about being treated “in a sexist and condescending way” from one of her co-hosts, Steve Doocy.
     The complaint, which names Ailes as the only defendant, accuses Doocy of “putting his hand on [Carlson] and pulling down her arm to ‘shush’ her during a live telecast.”
     Noting her impressive credentials — including graduating from Stanford University — Carlson says Doocy generally refused “to accept and treat her as an intelligent and insightful female journalist rather than just a blond female prop.”
     After she complained to Ailes about Doocy’s behavior, Ailes called her a “man hater” and “killer,” also telling her that she “needed to get along with the boys,” according to the complaint.
     Alleging that Ailes had more in store for her after the pep talk, Carlson says she received fewer sought-after assignments at the network, lost her guest segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” and also saw fewer appearances during the channel’s 6 a.m. hour.
     Ailes then fired Carlson from “Fox & Friends” in 2013, the complaint says, reassigning her to the 2 p.m. time slot on a program called “The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson,” and “substantially reducing her compensation” in the process.
     It was on that program last month that Carlson ruffled some feathers by calling for the United States to reinstate a ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004.
     “Can’t we hold true the sanctity of the Second Amendment while still having common sense?” the host asked, on the heels of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando.
     Carlson’s lawsuit says she had been thriving in her new timeslot, with her show consistently ranking No. 1 and achieving “its highest Nielson ratings ever in the final quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016.”
     These numbers demonstrate that “there was no legitimate business reason for terminating Ms. Carlson,” the complaint states.
     Carlson says Ailes handed down the decree not to renew her contract on June 23, punishing her for her refusal to engage in sexual banter or a relationship with him.
     Among sexist comments endured over the years, Carlson says Ailes would sometimes ask her to turn around so he could view her posterior.
     He once told her that she was “sexy,” but “too much work,” the complaint says.
     Carlson says she and Ailes had a meeting last September in which Ailes told her: “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.”
     “Sometimes problems are easier to solve that way,” Ailes said, according to the complaint.
     Prior to the meeting, Ailes had allegedly “made it clear to [Carlson] that he had the power to make anything happen for her if she listened to him and ‘understood’ what he was saying.”
     A winner of the 1989 Miss America pageant, Carlson joined Fox News in 2005.
     The Connecticut resident seeks damages for violations of the New York City Human Rights Law. She is represented by Nancy Smith with Smith Mullin of Montclair, N.J.
     Politico reported that the New York firm Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe is co-counsel on the case.
     A statement from Carlson about the lawsuit credits female empowerment as something for which the journalist has striven her entire career.
     “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,” Carlson said.
     Ironically, “The Daily Show” investigated whether Carlson was “dumbing [herself] down” on the air back in 2009, after the anchorwoman chortled about having used “Google” to make sense of words like czar and ignoramus.
     Telling her to drop the ditz act, Jon Stewart noted that Carlson was a former high school valedictorian and classically trained violinist. In addition to graduating Stanford, with honors, Carlson also studied abroad at Oxford. “Not the Mississippi Oxford,” Stewart added.
     Stewart joked that Carlson’s on-air attitude made her look like “one of those people who needs to pin their address to their coat so a stranger can help them find their way home.”

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