Gretchen Carlson just won her battle with Fox News and Roger Ailes, and will even get a public vindication of her fight. According to Vanity Fair, Fox News has settled her sexual harassment suit involving recently-departed chief Roger Ailes for a whopping $20 million. Perhaps more importantly to the former Fox and Friends host, Carlson will get a public apology for her treatment at the leading cable-news outlet:
The Murdochs appear intent on putting the Ailes saga behind them as they move into the last stretches of an election and an attempt to corralcrucial anchors, such as Megyn Kelly, to re-sign with the network. Now the company has agreed, on behalf of Ailes, to settle Carlson’s suit for a stunning $20 million, according to three people familiar with the settlement. To reinforce their seriousness about creating a new culture in a post-Ailes world, the company is expected to offer Carlson a public apology as part of the settlement. (The company, according to two people familiar with the discussions, has also reached settlement agreements with two other women.)
Though Carlson’s case is against Ailes personally, Fox is essentially his insurer for any settlement, according to two people familiar with the arrangement, and 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. (At press time, it was unclear how much Ailes was personally on the hook for.) As part of the language at the end of the settlement, numerous people with knowledge of the deal told me, Carlson has agreed not to bring any further legal action against other executives at Fox News, or against the company itself.
The apology comes not just from Fox News, but from its corporate parent, via Politico’s Hadas Gold:
“21st Century Fox is pleased to announce that it has settled Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit,” a statement from the company said. “During her tenure at Fox News, Gretchen exhibited the highest standards of journalism and professionalism. She developed a loyal audience and was a daily source of information for many Americans. We are proud that she was part of the Fox News team. We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she & all our colleagues deserve.”
That’s not the only change at Fox News, either. Greta van Susteren is out of the prime-time lineup, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter:
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) September 6, 2016
Hume stated that he’s “happy to take on this assignment for the balance of this extraordinary election.” It’s worth noting that van Susteren had an exit clause in her contract if Ailes ever got shown the door — and so do ratings toppers Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. All three have defended Ailes publicly, which leaves them in an awkward position after Fox settled three harassment lawsuits and publicly apologized to Carlson. Whether van Susteren’s departure is voluntary on that basis or was the result of other calculations is unclear, but having Hume around to plug the gap is a fortunate circumstance for Fox and might convince Hannity and O’Reilly to stick around.
Carlson must feel very vindicated by this outcome. Seven weeks ago, she pledged not to negotiate in secret:
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) July 20, 2016
The question will be how many more times Fox has to go through this. Two other suits got settled, but Vanity Fair didn’t specify whose they were. Presumably one of them was the Andrea Tantaros suit, but if not, then Fox’s public humiliation may not be over.
Now that Ailes’ former employer has issued a public apology and spent eight figures on his behalf, what will Donald Trump do with his most recent addition to the campaign? Will he dump Ailes as a consultant, or simply tough it out?
Update: Oliver Darcy has Fox’s statement on van Susteren’s departure and Hume’s return to prime-time hosting:
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) September 6, 2016
Note that there is no explanation at all for van Susteren’s exit.
Update: Carlson, who just returned from a vacation in the Balkans, issued a statement of her own:
“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.”