Gretchen Carlson: Fox News should release women from their NDAs too

One of the lingering issues surrounding the #MeToo movement has been the use of non-disclosure agreements to prevent women who leave companies or accept settlements from talking about their experiences. Last Friday night Rachel Maddow announced that NBC Universal had given her a statement about NDAs. “Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or non-disparagement provision in their separation agreement should contact NBCUniversal and we will release them from that perceived obligation.”

In the wake of that decision to apparently free ex-NBC employees from NDAs, Gretchen Carlson and several other women have come forward to suggest that Fox News should do the same. From Vanity Fair:

“All women at Fox News and beyond forced to sign NDAs should be released from them immediately, giving them back the voices they deserve,” Carlson told me over the weekend. “None of us asked to get into a workplace dispute. We simply had the courage to stand up and say something—but in the end it’s our voices no one can hear. Because of our NDAs, we can never say what is factually correct or incorrect about what happened to us at Fox.”…

“Because of our NDAs, movies and television projects are being produced, but the women muzzled can’t comment on them. Because of our NDAs, others can continue to spread mistruths and deny our claims, knowing full well we can’t say a thing,” she told me. “Almost every woman who has been sexually assaulted or harassed in the workplace faces this same unfortunate fact—silence.”…

“People have been talking about giving all women more of a voice, to ‘believe her,’ to stand up and fight, to support and encourage women and future generations of women,” Carlson told me. “That fight includes paying women fairly, putting more women in C-suite positions, and giving women more board positions. But until we get rid of NDAs for sexual harassment or assault, women will never be truly equal. NDAs grant the ultimate secrecy, serving to keep our society’s gender inequality intact.”

In addition to Carlson, Julie Roginsky and Tamara Holder say they support releasing women from their NDAs. Diana Falzone, who wrote the story for Vanity Fair and who formerly worked at Fox News, is also in support.

Ronan Farrow made a comment last week which sparked a reaction from several of the same former Fox News employees. Farrow praised Fox News, saying it had done a good job regarding secret settlements. Four former Fox employees, including Falzone, Holder, and Roginsky, wrote an open letter disagreeing with his assessment:

Diana Falzone, Tamara Holder, Juliet Huddy and Julie Roginsky wrote the ‘Catch and Kill’ author a letter telling him, “Your backslapping of Fox News seems more like backsliding.”

Ronan Farrow has apologized to four women who received settlements from 21st Century Fox for saying that the network did a “great job” of handling its sexual misconduct claims…

Falzone sued Fox News in 2017 for gender and disability discrimination after claiming the network took her off the air over a story she reported on suffering from endometriosis and settled for an undisclosed sum; Holder settled for $2.5 million in 2017 after claiming a former vice president at Fox News Latino forced himself on her; Huddy settled for a reported six figures after she claimed that former anchor Bill O’Reilly tried to ruin her career after she refused his sexual advances; and Roginsky settled for an undisclosed amount after suing with the allegations that former Fox News head Roger Ailes denied her for a co-hosting role after she refused his advances.

I don’t know if Fox News is going to follow NBC’s lead on this but given that the film Bombshell is coming to theaters in December, it doesn’t seem likely this is going to be forgotten anytime soon.