Gretchen Carlson

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  • Media Take Note: Trump Is The Worst Possible Messenger On The Clintons’ Marriage

    ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    When media report on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s latest attacks on former President Bill Clinton’s history with women and Hillary Clinton’s responses to those women, they should also mention the immense hypocrisy of Trump levying those claims. Trump and several of his closest advisers have long histories of infidelity, workplace sexual harassment, and misogyny. And Trump himself previously said both that Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky was “totally unimportant” and that people would have been more “forgiving” if Clinton had a relationship “with a really beautiful woman.”

  • Fox Business Spends Mere Seconds Reporting On Gretchen Carlson’s Settlement

    CNBC Devoted Significant Resources To The Story, While Bloomberg And Fox Relegated It To Quick Headlines

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Fox Business devoted a mere 16 seconds of airtime to the eight-figured settlement reached by 21st Century Fox and former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson after she filed a lawsuit against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and retaliation. Bloomberg and CNBC spent marginally more time on the news, even though Bloomberg relegated the story to quick headlines.

    21st Century Fox announced September 6 that it had reached a $20 million settlement deal with Carlson, who sued Ailes for sexual harassment in July. Fox also released a public apology saying, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve." CNN reported that the company “also completed settlement deals with a ‘handful’ of other women who accused Ailes of harassing behavior.”

    In the 24 hours after the settlement was announced, Fox Business covered it only once, in a 16-second statement from host Charles Payne. Bloomberg News devoted six segments to the settlement, but they were all short headlines that lasted less than 30 seconds each.

    CNBC was the only business news network to devote substantial coverage to the story, spending 12 minutes and 21 seconds discussing the settlement across six segments. CNBC’s segments also included more substantial coverage of the allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News. In an interview on the September 6 edition of Squawk Alley, Vanity Fair contributing editor Sarah Ellison, who broke the story of the settlement, discussed the “waterfall effect” of women coming forward and speaking up about being sexually harassed at Fox. CNBC reporter Julia Boorstin noted of the settlement that “though there were talks about Ailes covering some of that payment, he is not going to be making any contribution ... despite the fact that Ailes reportedly walked away from Fox with twice what Carlson is being paid, $40 million.”

    Fox News was also hesitant to cover the story when Carlson filed the lawsuit in July, and when the network did report on the issue, it leaned heavily on Ailes’ prepared statement. The network’s first report on the lawsuit came a day after it was filed, and it was almost entirely a recitation of Ailes’ statement. In a piece on FoxNews.com after news of the lawsuit broke, Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz carried water for Ailes by citing his denial before even establishing the facts about the allegations he was denying.

  • Fox Is Replacing Greta Van Susteren With Ailes-Defender And Sexual Assault Denier Brit Hume

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    Brit Hume, the Fox News analyst replacing former host Greta Van Susteren, has a long history of downplaying sexual assault and was a fierce defender of former Fox CEO Roger Ailes from the sexual assault allegations leveled by dozens of women, including several of Hume’s Fox colleagues.

    Fox media critic Howard Kurtz reported September 6 that network anchor Van Susteren is leaving Fox News after 14 years and will be replaced by senior political analyst Hume. Kurtz noted that “this would be among the major programming decisions made by [head of Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox] Rupert Murdoch since the network’s owner stepped in as acting CEO of Fox News after Ailes’ resignation.” New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that “a source close to Van Susteren … [said she] left because ‘she is troubled by the culture’ Ailes built.”

    Ailes was forced to resign from Fox in July after dozens of women accused him of sexual harassment. Former network anchor Gretchen Carlson and host Andrea Tantaros have both filed lawsuits alleging sexual harassment against Ailes and claiming they were taken off air as retaliation. Network anchor Megyn Kelly also reportedly told lawyers she was sexually harassed by Ailes. Ailes is still working as a consultant to Rupert Murdoch during a “transition period” for the network. Numerous media figures have reported that the culture of sexual harassment at Fox News goes way beyond Roger Ailes and that several network executives, including newly promoted Fox co-president Bill Shine, knew about and covered up Ailes’ harassment.

    Hume was among Ailes’ fiercest defenders inside Fox News amid the allegations and called his resignation “heartbreaking.” Hume responded to his colleague Carlson’s allegations by victim-blaming and disparaging her character, asking why she didn’t just quit following the alleged harassment:

    Following Ailes’ resignation, Hume said he was “absolutely heartbroken that all this happened,” saying of the former Fox chief, “I love the guy, and I love working for him.”

    Hume has a long history of using his national platform to downplay sexual assault. Here are a few of his worst attempts:

    Hume: "I, Myself, Totally Dispute" Campus Sexual Assault Statistics. Hume disputed statistics pointing to an epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses, saying, “I think an almost entirely false narrative … has been constructed and perpetrated and now perpetuated, I think,  largely by the American left.”

    Hume: Blame “The Deregulation Of Sex” For Campus Sexual Assaults. Hume blamed “the deregulation of sex” for causing sexual assaults, saying that “boys will be boys,” but the “sexual revolution in the ‘60s did away with” the strict rules governing male-female interactions that used to protect women from “lusty” “guys.” He also criticized plans by lawmakers to curb assault, saying of new proposals calling for verbal consent at various stages of a sexual encounter: “It suggests that the people who are drawing up these new plans for how consent is to be given have never had any sex.”

    Hume Repeatedly Downplayed Prevalence Of Sexual Assault. Hume downplayed the prevalence of campus sexual assaults in 2014 by conflating two studies and  baselessly dismissing the veracity of the often-cited statistic that one in five "undergraduate women experience an attempted or completed sexual assault during their college years."

  • Fox Just Settled With Gretchen Carlson. Reporters Should Ask Trump About It.

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former anchor Gretchen Carlson against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Reporters have a responsibility to grill Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has criticized Carlson’s allegations and is being advised by Ailes, about the settlement.

    Carlson in July filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, triggering an investigation into her allegations. By the end of July, at least 25 other women had levied similar charges against him. Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced on July 21 that Ailes would resign. According to subsequent reports, Ailes has been advising Trump on campaign strategy and helping him prepare for the presidential debates.

    Fox on September 6 announced that it had reached a $20 million settlement with Carlson, with Ailes paying a portion of that settlement. A statement released by 21st Century Fox said, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

    Between Carlson’s initial filing and the settlement, Trump repeatedly dismissed and downplayed the allegations against Ailes. Trump in mid-July said the allegations were “unfounded ... totally unfounded.” Trump later told NBC, “I don’t want to comment” on the Ailes accusations, but “I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining” wrote “books that are fairly recently released and they say wonderful things about him and now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him.” Trump also told then-Fox contributor Kirsten Powers, “There was quite a bit of fabulous things said [about Ailes by Carlson],” and when she asked about the other women who made similar allegations, he said, “I didn’t know it was more than just her.” Trump also praised Ailes in July as a “very capable guy” and “a friend of mine.”

    Trump during that time also advised Ailes on how to handle the accusations. According to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, Trump “gave Ailes advice pre-ultimatum when Carlson scandal first broke,” and Ailes and Trump reportedly “counseled each other in multiple phone calls” as Ailes was about to leave Fox.

    Now that Fox has made an “implicit acknowledgement” of Ailes’ guilt with its settlement, will media confront Trump for having Ailes as an adviser and for having tried to publicly discredit Carlson?

    UPDATE: According to multiple reporters, Ailes will not contribute to the Carlson settlement, which will be paid entirely by 21st Century Fox.

  • Confirmed: Fox News’ Sexual Harassment Investigation Was Just A PR Offensive

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Vanity Fair reported that the internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, launched after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes, has concluded with a $20 million settlement and a public apology, but without examining “the broader culture of Fox News.” This “relatively swift closure to an ugly chapter,” as Vanity Fair put it, shows that the probe was little more than a pseudo-investigation. The magazine noted that in some ways, it "simply got a revenue machine back on track." And that confirms previous concerns about the impartiality of the investigation, which was handled by Fox News’ parent company.

    After Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on July 6 against then-Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, Fox’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, retained the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to lead an internal investigation into the claims.

    Some questioned the “firm's independence” and ability to investigate the allegations with impartiality. As The New York Times reported, describing the Paul, Weiss investigation “as an ‘independent’ review commissioned by the company’s board … is not correct” because “The firm was retained by 21st Century Fox not only to investigate but also to provide legal advice.” The Times noted that a “true independent review would preclude legal advice.”

    As the investigation proceeded behind closed doors, media outlets reported that the “harassment and intimidation” inside Fox News “went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.” New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Fox executives -- including Ailes deputy Bill Shine, who has since been promoted to co-president of Fox News -- were aware of Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment of Fox News employees and said some helped the former network chairman and CEO “cover up” his actions.

    But as news broke that Carlson and 21st Century Fox settled the suit, Vanity Fair reported that “the Paul, Weiss investigation … never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News.” According to Vanity Fair, Paul, Weiss “was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture.”

    The settlement punctuates an important chapter in the Ailes scandal. While the Paul, Weiss investigation interviewed more than 20 women, according to two sources familiar with the process, it never officially expanded to examine the broader culture of Fox News. The firm, according to numerous people familiar with the process, was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture. In some ways, according to one person familiar with the process, the Paul, Weiss investigation simply got a revenue machine back on track.

    As New Yorker contributing editor Jeannie Suk Gersen wrote: "“Unlike what reportedly happened around Ailes, neither an employee’s supervisor nor the person being accused of harassment should have any control over an investigation.”

    Given that Fox News has for years cultivated a toxic atmosphere of misogyny and sexism, and given reporting about the widespread culture of sexual harassment at the network that went beyond Ailes, Media Matters launched a petition calling on 21st Century Fox to publicly release the findings of the internal review. Though now those findings may be spurious, given the narrow scope of the investigation.

  • Donald And Eric Trumps’ Sexual Harassment Victim-Blaming Is A Staple In Right-Wing Media

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Donald and Eric Trump’s victim-blaming responses to questions about sexual harassment were condemned in the media, but they echoed right-wing media’s long history of putting the onus on the victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Right-wing media figures have suggested that being a sexual assault survivor is a “coveted status,” that victims should “make better decisions,” and that “women need to take some responsibility.”

  • Washington Post: Do Donald And Eric Trump Understand “The Term ‘Victim Blaming’”?

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A Washington Post reporter is suggesting that based on the answers provided by both Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his son, Eric, to the hypothetical of someone sexually harassing Ivanka Trump like Roger Ailes has allegedly done to many women in the workplace, it’s possible neither man understands what ‘victim blaming’ means.

    During an interview in a USA Today opinion piece, Trump said that his daughter “would find another career” or “another company” if treated the way Roger Ailes, the ally he has expressed “love” and support for, has allegedly treated many women at Fox News, allegations that led to his departure as chairman and CEO. Eric Trump doubled down on this attitude during an interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose, stating his sister, “as a strong person,” would never “allow herself to be subjected to that.” Both statements have drawn condemnation from figures in the media, including former Fox host Gretchen Carlson, who sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment.

    In an August 2 blog post, Post reporter Janell Ross points out that the privilege Ivanka Trump has of being able to change career or work place isn’t shared by most women, underscores how this solution would “leave the harasser in place,” and calls the idea that strength is all that’s needed to respond to sexual harassment “plain wrong”:

    On Monday, USA Today published a column in which the elder Trump was quoted saying that were his daughter Ivanka Trump to face workplace sexual harassment akin to what former employees have said that former Fox News chief and on-again, off-again Trump ally Roger Ailes subjected them to, Ivanka would find another career or company. Just like that.

    Just to be totally clear, this is what the elder Trump said:

    “I would like to think she would find another career, or find another company if that was the case."

    Those are his words. USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers described that response as retrograde and, "startling even by Trumpian standards." By Tuesday morning, Eric Trump did what so many of his father's supporters and surrogates have been called upon to do this week. Trump offered an explanation for Trump's comments. During an interview with Charlie Rose on "CBS This Morning," Eric Trump, said this:

    “I think what he’s saying is, Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman, she wouldn’t allow herself to be objected to it, and by the way, you should take it up with Human Resources, and I think she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don’t think she would allow herself to be subjected to that. I think that’s a point he was making, and I think he did so well.”

    [...]

    Now, on to the content of the two Trump men's comments, and some things that don't seem to have crossed their minds.

    Here's one: Ivanka's status as the daughter of two billionaires, the head of her own companies, manager of many lucrative projects and the wife of a very wealthy man also born to a wealthy family — all of which might make her response to harassment different than it might be if none of those titles applied.

    [...]

    What's more, their "solution" would likely leave a harasser in place.

    It would force a worker, who may feel that the job or some project or aspect of their job is what they are uniquely called to do, to accept the "punishment" of leaving that task or opportunity. That harassed worker would have to endure all the personal and economic upheaval associated with leaving that job.

    Meanwhile, the harasser and anyone aware of the harassment would emerge with a strong sense this behavior will not be a problem in the future.

    [...]

    As for Eric Trump's suggestion that a "strong" woman like his sister, Ivanka, would not "allow" this sort of thing happen or should simply go to HR, there are more than a few reasons to be troubled. Among them: there's little reason believe that the world and its HR departments uniformly work that well for all American workers.

    [...]

    The Trump definition of strength on terms that may not be an option for a large share of workers — say, for instance, that 40 percent of American mothers who are the primary or sole breadwinner in their families — is definitely something. Let's start with plain wrong. It's an idea that can have very real implications for the careers of victims, the companies for which they work and the entire country.

  • NY Times: After Ailes’ Departure, An “Icy” Split Inside Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times reported that following the departure of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes amid a sexual harassment lawsuit, “there is a continuing split inside the network” between “one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists” who are defending Ailes -- and are “resentful” toward those “cooperating with lawyers” -- and “another contingent” who are “dismayed” by Ailes’ defenders.  

    Earlier this month, former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit that alleged Roger Ailes fired her from the network after she declined his sexual advances. Since Carlson’s lawsuit, an additional 25 women came forward to make similar claims, including Fox host Megyn Kelly. On July 19, media reported that Ailes would leave Fox News as a result of the allegations, which has created a rift within the network that Fox media analyst Howard Kurtz called “painful and embarrassing.”

    In a July 27 article, Times reporters Michael M. Grynbaum and Emily Steel, reported that “nearly a dozen Fox News employees” described an “icy” atmosphere amid the “continuing split inside the network.” The explained the split as between two camps. One of which is a “camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists” who are upset at Ailes’ “ouster” and are “resentful toward [network anchor Megyn] Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior.” The other is “dismayed by the responses of stars like Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greta Van Susteren and Jeanine Pirro, who were quick to publicly defend Mr. Ailes after he was accused of harassment.” From the article: 

    The Fox News skybox here turns into a hive of activity as the network’s star anchors analyze the Democratic National Convention for millions of viewers.

    When the cameras blink off, however, the banter has been replaced by something rarely heard in the television news business: silence.

    Megyn Kelly and her co-hosts, including Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speaking during commercial breaks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the anchors’ interactions, who described the on-set atmosphere at Fox News as icy. During ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smartphones.

    Even as Fox News goes about broadcasting as usual, scoring its highest convention ratings in 20 years, interviews this week with network employees show an organization grappling with internal division after the abrupt exit of Roger Ailes, the once-omnipotent chairman at the center of a sexual harassment investigation.

    Nearly a dozen Fox News employees, who work in front of and behind the camera, were granted anonymity to speak candidly about highly sensitive matters inside a network where privacy is still prized.

    The hosts’ on-set interactions have improved slightly since last week’s shows at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which were broadcast immediately after Mr. Ailes’s departure.

    Still, employees say there is a continuing split inside the network, with one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists — some of whom owe their careers to Mr. Ailes — upset at his ouster. Some are resentful toward Ms. Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior.