In her first public interview since she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, former anchor Gretchen Carlson said she came forward because she “finally felt it was time” to speak out.
“I just wanted to stand up for myself, first and foremost,” Carlson told The New York Times in a Tuesday interview at her lawyer Nancy Erika Smith’s New Jersey home. “And I wanted to stand up for other women who maybe faced similar circumstances.”
The former “Real Story” host stood by the allegations laid out in the lawsuit, claiming that Ailes made sexual advances towards her, oversaw a culture of sexual harassment at Fox News and fired her because she refused him and complained about her treatment at the network.
She told the Times that she kept quiet about the “continuous” offensive language she heard from Ailes because of the hierarchical structure of the network.
“Everyone knew how powerful Roger Ailes was,” she said. “I certainly felt intimidated by that.”
Ailes has denied all of the charges, insisting that Carlson filed the “retaliatory” suit because she was upset that her contract was terminated.
Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti told the Times that Carlson “never filed a formal complaint about sexual harassment” to the human resources or legal departments. Over a dozen hosts at the network, including Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greta Van Susteren, Geraldo Rivera, and Sean Hannity, have spoken out in defense of Ailes and the network.
Carlson told the Times that their support was qualified by the fact that “they’re still being paid by Fox.”
Other allegations of sexual harassment surfaced last weekend in a New York Magazine article that shared stories from six women who said Ailes pressured them to exchange sexual favors with him in exchange for job opportunities between the mid-1960s and 1989. The shocking allegations, which include explicit requests for sex and for women to pose privately for him, were denied by Ailes’ lawyer, Barry Asen.
The Fox chairman’s legal team filed a motion for the suit to be moved from a New Jersey Superior Court to a federal court last week, and also claimed Carlson breached her contract by trying to bypass the arbitration process outlined in her network contract. Carlson’s lawyers told the Times they would file a response next week.
21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, has also contracted law firm Paul, Weiss to conduct an internal investigation into Carlson’s allegations.