Fox News has settled former host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against ex-CEO Roger Ailes, the network’s parent company confirmed Tuesday. It did not announce the terms of the settlement agreement, but Vanity Fair, which first reported on the settlement earlier Tuesday, pegged it at a whopping $20 million.
As part of the network’s settlement on Ailes’ behalf, the parent company, 21st Century Fox, offered Carlson an unprecedented public apology.
“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,” the statement read. “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve.”
In a statement, Carlson said, “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.”
Two anonymous sources familiar with the discussions told Vanity Fair that settlement agreements have also been reached with two other women.
Although Carlson only named Ailes, not the network, in her suit, two sources told Vanity Fair that “Fox News is essentially his insurer for any settlement.”
Ailes’ attorney, Susan Estrich, told New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman that reports Ailes would personally contribute to the massive settlement are “inaccurate.” 21st Century Fox will pay the settlement, an unnamed executive told Sherman.
The settlement is a landmark for the network as it moves into the post-Ailes era. Carlson’s bombshell lawsuit prompted an independent review of Ailes’ conduct, which garnered allegations from nearly two dozen women. Just two months after the allegations were first made public, Ailes resigned as head of the network he built into a powerhouse for conservative news.
Carlson’s civil complaint, filed in New Jersey court on July 6, alleged Ailes for years made sexual advances toward her, at one point telling her, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.” When Carlson rebuffed his alleged advances, the former Fox News boss allegedly began “ostracizing, marginalizing, and shunning” her at the network, which she said included pulling her off the morning show “Fox & Friends” in 2013.
In Sherman’s bombshell report published in New York Magazine last week, he reported Carlson secretly recorded incidents of Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment for a year.
New York Magazine reported that Megyn Kelly, one of the network’s top talents, was among those who told investigators about alleged inappropriate sexual advances by Ailes and lobbied current and former employees to speak out. Another lawsuit, brought by host Andrea Tantaros against Ailes, the network, and several top executives, is still pending.
This post has been updated.