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?