First, the company announced that it had agreed to a settlement with Gretchen Carlson, who sued Roger Ailes for repeated sexual harassment in July. That lawsuit led to a flood of sexual harassment complaints against Ailes going back decades; Ailes left the network, which he had led since its inception in 1996, in July with a $40 million golden parachute. Reports indicate that Carlson will receive half that amount in the settlement. Fox has reportedly also settled with two other women who had brought lawsuits against Ailes.
Just as notable as the $20 million Carlson will receive is the fact that Fox made a rare public apology: “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve.”
Carlson released a statement expressing gratitude for the women who stood with her, despite a massive backlash from Ailes allies like Sean Hannity:
“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 lawsuit was brought against Ailes, not Fox. Vanity Fair, which first broke the story, reports that Ailes will pay at least some of the money owed to Carlson. “Fox is essentially his insurer for any settlement,” Vanity Fair reports. But “discussions between Ailes’s legal team and 21st Century Fox’s legal team became very tense regarding how much Ailes might pay in a settlement.”
In other Fox News news, Greta Van Susteren, who has been at the network for 14 years, is leaving abruptly under somewhat mysterious circumstances. On Tuesday morning it was announced that Brit Hume will take over her show On the Record effective immediately. Van Susteren hasn’t released a statement and it is unclear why she has decided to go. Van Susteren was one of Ailes’s biggest defenders and told The Daily Beast in July that she had a “very long-term deal” with the network.
Update: Van Susteren has released a statement.
Update 2: Looks like Ailes won’t have to pay a dime to Carlson.