Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson has exposed the ugly underbelly of sexism at the cable news leader by filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against FNC boss Roger Ailes.
The Carlson lawsuit accused Ailes of firing her after she rejected his sexual advances:
Carlson’s lawsuit also accuses Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy of sexual harassment:
— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) July 6, 2016
In a statement about the lawsuit, Carlson said:
Gretchen Carlson statement on the lawsuit pic.twitter.com/F6W9HU4H2A
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) July 6, 2016
In a statement, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes said, “Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false. 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. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. 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. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.”
It is not surprising that this sort of culture would exist at Fox News. Fox is the echo chamber for a Republican Party that advocates policies that are openly hostile towards the rights of women. However, the problem goes way beyond Fox News and the Republican Party.
The media culture itself is dominated by and run by men. Women most often are not treated as equal employees within the media itself. Where men get to keep their jobs while becoming bald, old, and fat, women lose their livelihoods based on criteria imposed by men that have nothing to do with their job performance.
I wish that it could be said that what Gretchen Carlson experienced while employed by Fox News was unique, but it is not. What Carlson was put through happens to women every day in the workplace for no other reason than male entitlement.
The 2016 presidential campaign has already brought out some of the worst sexist impulses in American culture. We have seen misogyny on the left and right from both Trump supporters and Bernie bros. Sexism is blind to partisan lines.
Whether or not you agree with Gretchen Carlson’s politics, no woman deserves to be treated as she claims she was in her lawsuit. If an LGBT person or an African-American person were fired based on based on their race or sexual orientation, American culture would be outraged and rushed to their defense, but women get demonized daily because they dare to demand to be treated like equal professionals and human beings instead of sexual objects.
The culture and behavior of the men at Fox News are not surprising, but before liberal and progressive males point the finger of partisan shame at anyone, we need to take a good hard look in the mirror and think about if we are living up to the standards that we are using to judge others.
From what I have seen so far in 2016, there is much work to be done.
Electing Hillary Clinton president won’t make sexism vanish, just like electing Obama didn’t cure racism. Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit is proof that no matter where a woman works, no matter how much she gets paid, she will be viewed by someone as an object.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association