Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson rocked the news world last week after filing a lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and retaliation. She accused the CEO of firing her from the network because she refused to have sex with him, and making repeated, unwanted comments about her body.
Ailes released a statement calling the lawsuit “defamatory” and said she was fired because of low ratings. In an interview with Marie Claire, Carlson’s attorney Nancy Erika Smith dismissed his statement as false. “[Carlson] was number one in her timeslot,” Smith said, and cited corporate emails congratulating the host of her increased ratings in June.
“She, like many women in her position, was trying not to lose her job and retain her career,” Smith said about her client. “Since Gretchen’s suit has been announced, my website is blowing up with other women alleging harassment from Ailes and other Fox executives—their careers had been ruined.”
Over a dozen women have contacted Carlson’s lawyer, as reported by New York Magazine. Six of them gave interviews to the magazine about their experiences, though only two went on-record.
One, Kellie Boyle, alleges that Ailes propositioned her in 1989 after learning she was to sign a contract with the National Republican Congressional Committee. After she refused him, she was passed over for the job. “I called a friend who was very high up in the RNC and I asked him what happened. He said, ‘Word went out you weren’t to be hired.’”
Another woman, Marsha Callahan, was a model when she met Ailes in the 60s. She auditioned for The Mike Douglas Show, which he was producing at the time. She says he specifically requested that she wear a garter belt to the interview and that he asked her to lift her skirt up several times during their conversation. Callahan says that he told her that she needed to sleep with him to get the job, and that he said, “Oh, pretty girls like you are a dime a dozen.”
In response to the New York Magazine article, Ailes’ outside counsel Barry Asen released this statement: “It has become obvious that Ms. Carlson and her lawyer are desperately attempting to litigate this in the press because they have no legal case to argue. The latest allegations, all 30 to 50 years old, are false.”
UPDATE: A Fox News spokesperson also defended Alies by sending MOTTO ratings information for Carlson’s afternoon program, statements from other Fox employees praising Ailes and cordial notes that Carlson wrote to Ailes during her time at Fox.