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Tucker Carlson’s history of alleged workplace sexism stretches back to 2015, long before Abby Grossberg

Tucker Carlson.Tucker Carlson.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Fox News fired Tucker Carlson, host of the most-watched prime-time show on Fox, on Monday.
  • The Rupert Murdoch-controlled company has declined to say why it fired Carlson.
  • Carlson’s involvement in defamation and gender bias lawsuits has been the subject of speculation.

Allegations of sexism and harassment have dogged the most-watched prime-time pundit in the country for years – and on Monday, Fox News fired him.

Fox announced Monday that it had “agreed” to part ways with Tucker Carlson. Per Fox News, an average of 3.2 million people a night tuned in to Carlson’s show. 

The company’s refusal to comment on why it kicked its most-watched property off the air has sparked rampant speculation about the cause of Carlson’s firing.

Possible rationales include Murdoch’s contempt for Carlson’s religiosity and Carlson’s insistence on hewing to conspiracy theories about the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. And while Carlson’s show attracted millions of viewers, the host’s increasing turn to conspiracy theories and on-air racism sent advertisers running for the hills, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But most reporting, relying on anonymous sources close to Fox News executives, agrees that a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by Carlson’s former producer, Abby Grossberg, against Fox News is partially responsible. The suit claims that Carlson presided over “a work environment that subjugates women based on vile sexist stereotypes.”

Grossberg’s suit is the latest in a string of similar accusations against Carlson, including in another gender discrimination suit brought against Fox News by a former employee in 2020. 

That suit, which has been dismissed, included allegations that Carlson retaliated against a female host for refusing his sexual advances. Internal correspondence unearthed in a defamation lawsuit against Fox News showed Carlson used sexist expletives to refer to a female Fox executive and a guest. And in 2015, Carlson defended his brother for calling a female spokesperson “LabiaFace” in an email.

Carlson did not respond to a request for comment.

On Carlson’s show, ‘no woman’ was safe from harassment

In her lawsuit filed last month in New York’s Southern District, Grossberg alleges that Carlson’s weeknight news show was a place where blatant misogyny and discrimination thrived. On her first day of work she was greeted by blown-up photographs of Nancy Pelosi in a plunging swimsuit “plastered onto her computer,” she claimed. 

Carlson’s executive producer, Justin Wells, asked Grossberg whether her former boss, Maria Bartiromo, was sleeping with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Grossberg alleged. (Fox News on Monday also fired Wells.) Male employees commented on female coworkers’ appearance and advised them to use their sex appeal to book interviews, according to the lawsuit.

On the set of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Grossberg alleged, “no woman, whether she was a Republican politician or a female staffer at Fox News, was safe from suddenly becoming the target of sexist, demeaning comments, such as being called a ‘cunt.'”

tucker carlsonTucker Carlson at the office of the new website, the Daily Caller, on January 6, 2010, in Washington, DC.

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Carlson has used sexist language in writing. In internal Fox correspondence made public as a result of Dominion’s defamation lawsuit, Carlson used the same word to refer to Sidney Powell, an attorney for former President Donald Trump responsible for peddling false claims of election fraud.

“I hope she’s punished,” Carlson added. In a separate text, he wrote of Powell that she was a “fucking bitch.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Carlson also used “cunt” to describe a female executive and was not impressed when Fox’s lawyers managed to keep that correspondence out of the public eye.

Grossberg’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment. Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.

Have you worked with Tucker Carlson? Do you have a tip? Contact reporter Katherine Long via the encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-206-375-9280) or email (klong@insider.com).

An alleged sexual advance

Grossberg’s suit wasn’t the first allegation of sexual harassment against Carlson. The host also came under fire in a 2020 lawsuit filed by former Fox News segment host Cathy Areu.

After a 2018 show on which Areu appeared, Carlson told Areu that he was in New York City by himself and “specifically said that he would be staying alone in his hotel room without any wife or kids.” Areu interpreted the comment as a sexual advance and “awkwardly sidestepped” the request. After the incident, Carlson “promptly retaliated” by booking her significantly less frequently on the show, she alleged. 

“According to Mr. Carlson’s producer, it is Mr. Carlson himself who consistently rejects proposals to have Ms. Areu on his show, notwithstanding the fact that her segments were, or were among, his most popular,” Areu alleged in her suit. 

Areu’s suit was dismissed in 2021, partly because she was an independent contractor, not an employee, and therefore not subject to the same protections against gender discrimination. She has not refiled. 

In a declaration in the suit, Carlson denied telling her that he would be staying alone in his hotel room, or that he said anything that could be construed as a sexual advance. In fact, he added, his wife was with him in New York that night.

Areu was arrested last year on charges of elder abuse for allegedly siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from her 88-year old mother. She pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge of second-degree theft and is serving eight years of probation.

Areu did not respond to a request for comment; nor did an attorney who represented her in her 2020 case against Carlson and Fox.

Carlson defends his brother’s sexist remarks

Carlson was first publicly accused of sexism in 2015, when he offered what was, at best, a milquetoast defense of his brother Buckley’s sexist insults of a female spokesperson.

At the time, Carlson was a weekend co-host on Fox and the editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller, the conservative media site he founded. When then-New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesperson, Amy Spitalnick, asked the Daily Caller for a correction, Carlson responded with an email calling her “whiny and annoying.” Carlson’s brother, Buckley, a Republican political operative, then inadvertently sent a reply-all email that referred to the spokesperson as a “bitch” with “extreme dick-fright.” 

“No chance has this girl ever had a pearl necklace,” Buckley continued in his email, which was also sent to the spokesperson. “Spoogeneck? I don’t think so. More like LabiaFace.”

Carlson’s response wasn’t an apology for his brother’s crass comments. “I just talked to my brother about his response, and he assures me he meant it in the nicest way,” Carlson told BuzzFeed News. “If my brother committed a mass murder, I would not criticize him in public,” he told Politico

In an email, Spitalnick said that Fox News “knew exactly who Tucker Carlson was when they handed him a primetime show in 2016 — and they saw his misogyny and white supremacy as an asset, at least until they faced legal liability.”

She also added that the Daily Caller “ended up making the correction.”

A troubled network

Carlson’s ouster is the latest in a series of scandals and legal disputes beleaguering Fox News. 

The company last week agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems. Carlson was one of many Fox News hosts who promoted false election conspiracies, the subject of the defamation suit, on their shows. Fox News is still facing a similar defamation suit from another voting machine manufacturer. 

Carlson’s firing Monday surprised media watchers and, apparently, Carlson himself. Signing off last week at the close of what would be his last show, Carlson told views, “We’ll be back on Monday.”

He was not. Monday afternoon, Fox News issued a statement that it had “agreed” to part ways with Carlson. The company’s anodyne phrasing aside, the split was not amicable: Carlson had been fired, reportedly at the express direction of either company chairman Rupert Murdoch or his son, Lachlan, the chief executive of Fox Corporation.

Fox shelled out tens of millions of dollars to resolve numerous sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits in the past decade, stemming from alleged abuses committed by the likes of former CEO Roger Ailes and on-air personalities Bill O’Reilly and Ed Henry. 

Fox has pledged to clean up its act, including by instituting what some have described as a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment that has led to a string of firings in recent years.

Grossberg’s attorneys have said Carlson’s ouster from the network is proof that her lawsuit has merit. Fox, however, has said it will continue to fight Grossberg’s claims.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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