WASHINGTON ― Some Fox News on-air personalities are unsurprised by the news that former host Gretchen Carlson has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes.
“We thought it would happen after she was taken off of ‘Fox & Friends,’” said one Fox News source who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “She kept quiet because Roger gave her the afternoon show, but everyone at Fox knew it was eventually coming. He hated her and would tell people that she was ‘a crazy, vindictive bitch.’”
Other sources inside Fox confirmed that Carlson had first threatened to file the lawsuit after Ailes removed her as a host of “Fox & Friends.” But sources say Carlson held off on filing a suit when Ailes agreed to give her the afternoon show.
Carlson was a host of the popular “Fox & Friends” morning program from 2006 until 2013, but was allegedly removed from the show after complaining about her male co-host Steve Doocy. (Disclosure: I was a Fox News contributor from 2014 to 2015.)
In the suit, Carlson alleges that she was mocked by Ailes for complaining about unequal treatment by male colleagues, and that she was demoted to the afternoon show with reduced pay as retaliation. Carlson also claims that Ailes demanded sex as a way to improve her standing at Fox News and told her to “turn around so he could view her posterior.”
Carlson’s not the only woman to accuse Ailes of such behavior. One female Fox News contributor, who asked to remain anonymous, said that she had a similar encounter with Ailes.
“He asked me to turn around so he can see my ass,” the contributor said, describing one of her meetings with the chairman.
Another Fox News employee, who likewise asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said that Ailes told her she could only wear dresses on air. She also described a story that she said Ailes often told about his hiring process for on-camera personalities.
“He always brags to people about how he doesn’t do polling or testing when he chooses his on-air talent. He told me that if he was thinking of hiring a woman, he’d ask himself if he would fuck her, and if he would, then he’d hire her to be on-camera,” the employee said. “He then said if it was a man he’d think about whether he could sit down for a baseball game with him and not get annoyed of him. If he could, then he’d hire him.”
Carlson’s lawsuit, which was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, alleges that she was eventually fired for refusing Ailes’ sexual advances.
UPDATE: 7 p.m. ― Carlson’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, told CNNMoney Wednesday that Ailes’ harassment was “very consistent and very pervasive.”
In the hours since Carlson’s lawsuit was announced, “at least 10” other women have contacted Smith’s law firm wanting to speak about Ailes’ alleged behavior, according to a spokesman for the firm.
Fox News announced that it would be conducting an internal review of the allegations against Ailes and Doocy.
In a statement, Ailes insisted that Carlson’s claims were false and accused her of bringing the suit as retaliation for having her contract terminated. “This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously,” the statement read.