The Fox Newsapocalypse continues today; just as news broke that the company had offered former Fox and Friends anchor Gretchen Carlson a significant financial payout after her sexual harassment lawsuit went public, mainstay news personality and host of “On the Record” Greta Van Susteren announced her exit from the network, signaling a major loss.
It was a confluence of stories that made the company, already under scrutiny for a top-down culture of sexism and harassment, look even worse (From Gabriel Sherman’s New York Magazine piece: “Carlson knew her situation was far from unique: It was common knowledge at Fox that Ailes frequently made inappropriate comments to women in private meetings and asked them to twirl around so he could examine their figures; and there were persistent rumors that Ailes propositioned female employees for sexual favors.”).
First, this morning, the settlement with Carlson and two other women. Per The New York Times:
A 21st Century Fox Corporation news release did not specify a settlement amount, but a person briefed on the settlement said that it amounted to $20 million. The person also said that at least two other women had settled with Fox stemming from complaints they voiced to investigators… In its statement, the company apologized for the behavior, saying, “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.”
Vanity Fair goes further, saying the settlement was perhaps way to avoid any real soul-searching on behalf of the company.” The firm, according to numerous people familiar with the process, was apparently never ordered to scour the company’s hard drives for all evidence of sexual harassment or bawdy culture. In some ways, according to one person familiar with the process, the Paul, Weiss investigation simply got a revenue machine back on track.”
Simultaneously, Van Susteren’s exit was more surprising, and not lawsuit-related (but one can speculate that it was timed to the fact that the brand is in tatters).
Fox “has not felt like home to me for a few years and I took advantage of the clause in my contract which allows me to leave now,” she wrote. The contractual clause to which she referred, a so-called “key man clause,” was triggered by Fox News chief Roger Ailes’ resignation in late July amid a sexual harassment scandal. Once Ailes left, she had a chance to leave too.
It’s not particularly shocking to learn that “sources said Van Susteren had been unhappy with the way Ailes ran the network the past few years, and with the way the network was perceived”
On Twitter, as the rest of the press discusses these two stories, the Fox News account is live blogging a Donald Trump rally.