A scathing new report in New York Magazine chronicles the sharp demise of Roger Ailes, the powerful former chairman and CEO of Fox News, who recently stepped down from his post following a series of sexual harassment lawsuits by former female employees.
"The Revenge of Roger's Angels," by Gabriel Sherman, details how the 76-year-old Ailes' sexual-harassment allegations date back to "The Mike Douglas Show" in the 1960s, with 18 women providing insight into how he would offer "job opportunities if they would agree to perform sexual favors for him and for his friends."
The first woman to stand up to Ailes was former "Fox & Friends" morning television host Gretchen Carlson, a veteran broadcaster who left Fox News last month after over a decade with the network.
Sherman, who wrote a biography of Ailes “The Loudest Voice in the Room,’’ reveals how Carlson was successfully able to bring the hammer down on Ailes after she recorded multiple conversations on her iPhone beginning in 2014. Ailes had made overtly suggestive remarks, even stating, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better. Sometimes problems are easier to solve.”
While Carlson has shed light on inner workings at Fox News, a closer look at Carlson may provide a better understanding of the woman cast as an unsuspecting “feminist heroine.”
The Minnesota native and 1989 Miss America winner gained national exposure as a CBS News correspondent and the co-host of the Saturday edition of "The Early Show." Carlson, an honors graduate of Stanford University, would later move to Fox News, and after eight years as co-host "Fox & Friends," would move to the network's afternoon program "The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson."
Carlson, 50, was named the co-anchor of "Fox & Friends" in 2005, and seemed very much a part of the network's brand. In 2009, Comedy Central program "The Daily Show" detailed how Carlson engaged in dumbing down the news, providing clips of her openly wondering about the meaning of words "ignoramus" and "czar."
She also took conservative positions on social issues. In April 2012, Carlson commented on transgender issues that were on display on the ABC program "Glee."
"Here we go again pandering to .3 percent of the American population that consider themselves transgender. Now I get to explain this to my 8-year-old, if I just wanted her to see a nice family show with some nice music?" Carlson said on the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor."
Carlson remained on "Fox & Friends" despite what many have widely felt was a sexist atmosphere on the program. But there were at least some hints Carlson felt objectified by derogatory comments directed at women.
In 2012, Carlson left the set of "Fox & Friends" during a segment after some sexist joking from co-host Brian Kilmeade. “You read the headlines, since men are so great,” Carlson said while laughing.
A New York Times interview with Carlson in July revealed that she had complained of harassment as early as 2009, and had met with Ailes several times to address her issues. Following the complaints, she was “demoted” in 2013 to the afternoon slot.
On July 6, Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, alleging that he "sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe pervasive sexual harassment."
After Carlson's lawsuit announcement, women began stepping forward to talk to Sherman. In a posting on The Daily Beast, Shelley Ross, an ABC News executive, wrote of her own experiences with Ailes, who once asked her, "When did you first discover you were sexy?”
"I hope it represents a way forward for women. I hope it is, whether intentional or not, a watershed moment," Ross said of Carlson's stance.
In Carlson's memoirs, "Getting Real," which was published in 2015, one excerpt stands out.
"I like to joke that when I joined Fox News I hit the 'bimbo trifecta': Former Miss America. Blonde. Fox News host. I say that with tongue in cheek, but I may have achieved a Google record for being called dumb or a bimbo.
"Never mind that I'd graduated with honors at Stanford or studied at Oxford."
Carlson is married to sports agent Casey Close, who represents former New Yankees star Derek Jeter. Carlson and Close have two children and live in Greenwich, Connecticut.