Gretchen Carlson is optimistic the allegations of sexual abuse against Harvey Weinstein mark a turning point for women more than a year after she sued former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.
Carlson, who won a $20 million settlement and triggered Ailes’ ouster from the network, said it was important that the women who spoke out against Weinstein “put their names and faces to the issue” and “brought the story to life quickly.”
Speaking at a Washington Post event, Carlson said, “I’m incredibly optimistic with where we are, 15 months after I jumped off the cliff and into the abyss, not knowing what would lay below it all.”
“And, as horrific as the revelations are, coming out of Hollywood, I’m optimistic that this is the tipping point, that this is the watershed moment that we’ve been waiting for. Women have been waiting for this for a long time,” Carlson added.
Carlson, who wrote a new book about harassment titled “Be Fierce,” also recounted an experience with harassment earlier in her career to highlight how pervasive it can be.
“I was with my cameraman in a rural part of Virginia…He started asking me how I had liked it when he touched my breasts when he was putting my microphone on,” Carlson said.
She went on to describe how she considered jumping out of the car even though it was speeding along at 40 miles per hour.
For years women have been discouraged from speaking about abuse, fearing they’d lose their jobs or be labeled troublemakers, she said.
Even when they pursue cases, they often must choose between an arbitration process that is kept confidential or accepting a settlement that compels them to keep quiet about their abuse.
She said that often leaves them defenseless, such as when fired Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly made television appearances where he declared his innocence of the harassment charges that led to his firing and said he should have gone after his critics harder.
Carlson, whose book tour does not include a stop at Fox News, called O’Reilly’s appearance on his old network “horrifying.”
Carlson signed a settlement with Fox that limits what she can say about the company, but she had already outlined her accusations against Ailes in legal papers. Ailes, before he died earlier this year, consistently denied wrongdoing.
In addition to writing the book, she’s set up a foundation to help women fight back against abusers. After being questioned about whether her strategies are practical for poor women or single moms, Carlson will run a three-day leadership foundation in nine cities for women to attend for free.
She’ll speak at several colleges about the prevalence of sexual assaults on campus.
And sometime next year, she’ll return to television. She said she’s working with a Hollywood producer on a TV series that discusses the nation’s divisiveness, offering few other details. People have encouraged her to get into politics, and the Connecticut resident isn’t ruling it out.
“I had to do what I did so that my children and your children wouldn’t face the same indignities,” she said.
With News Wire Services