Fox News may be sitting comfortably at the top of the cable news ratings hierarchy, but all is not well for the conservative media giant's chairman.
Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Fox News Channel Chief Executive Roger Ailes on Wednesday for sexual harassment, alleging her ex-boss wrongfully fired her after she rebuffed years of unwanted advances.
Ailes, also the network's chairman, denied Carlson's allegations late on Wednesday. The parent of Fox News, 21st Century Fox, said it had begun an internal review of the matter.
Carlson, 50, charged in a lawsuit that Ailes, a former Republican political consultant who built Fox News into the most-watched U.S. cable news channel, took her off the morning show “Fox & Friends” in 2013 and cut her pay because she refused to have a sexual relationship with him.
Lawsuits alleging sexual harassment typically name the employer as a defendant, but Carlson’s lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, said in an interview that she had no reason to believe Fox condoned or authorized Ailes' behavior.
Ailes was a consultant for several U.S. Republican presidents, including George H.W. Bush. He has been a confidant of 21st Century Fox Executive Co-Chairman Rupert Murdoch, who named Ailes founding chief executive of Fox News Channel in 1996.
Ailes said in a statement he would defend himself against “false” and “offensive” allegations.
“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,” Ailes' statement said. He added that Carlson had thanked him in a recent book.
You can still catch The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on Fox — but the show's namesake is nowhere to be seen. Given the circumstances, it's unlikely she'll ever be back.
I was thinking about that the one too sure
Mrs. Gretchen Carlson is not to be trusted she’s a journalist supposedly