Two months after suing ousted Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, Gretchen Carlson has reportedly agreed to settle her case for an astonishing $20 million dollars from the network that made her a household name. It's a staggering payout, but it's still just half of the reported $40 million that Ailes was given to walk away from his job.
Vanity Fair was the first outlet to break the news of the settlement. The magazine's Sarah Ellison reported that it is not clear how much of the payment Ailes, against whom Carlson's suit is specifically addressed, will be personally responsible for, although reports indicate he will pay a portion. Ellison also reported that the settlement will ensure that Carlson refrains from future action against other executives within Fox, or against the company itself.
Shortly after Ellison's report landed, 21st Century Fox confirmed its settlement with Carlson, and issued a public apology, praising her professionalism and expressing regret over her treatment by the company:
21st Century Fox is pleased to announce that it has settled Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit. During her tenure at Fox News, Gretchen exhibited the highest standards of journalism and professionalism. She developed a loyal audience and was a daily source of information for many Americans. We are proud that she was part of the Fox News team. 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.
In response, Carlson issued her own statement, thanking both the company for its action, as well as the women who supported her when she came forward:
I am gratified that 21st Century Fox took decisive action after I filed my Complaint. I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life in which I will redouble my efforts to empower women in the workplace. I want to thank all the brave women who came forward to tell their own stories and the many people across the country who embraced and supported me in their #StandWithGretchen. All women deserve a dignified and respectful workplace in which talent, hard work and loyalty are recognized, revered and rewarded.
Carlson's bombshell lawsuit against Ailes made waves in July when she alleged he had engaged in a longstanding pattern of both overt and implicit sexual harassment against her during her tenure at the network he created. In it, Carlson claimed Ailes ogled, made comments to, and explicitly propositioned her, and retaliated professionally when she rebuffed his advances. Carlson's contract with Fox News was not renewed in late June, just days before her lawsuit was filed.
In the wake of Carlson's allegations, a number of other women at Fox News came forward with their own stories of sexual harassment—among them, network star Megyn Kelly, whose own claims of sexual harassment by Ailes were seen by many as the final blow which prompted 21st Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch and his sons to oust his longtime conservative news baron.
Even though Carlson received a huge settlement, the gulf between what she was given and the severance that Ailes negotiated only serves to reinforce the sense of injustice about what happened at Fox News, and how long Ailes was allowed to continue his alleged pattern of predatory behavior toward the women in his employ.