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Fox settles Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit for reported $20 million, issues apology

'Persecuted' New York Screening Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has been settled for $20 million, Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison reported Tuesday.

Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, also apologized to Carlson in a statement Tuesday announcing the settlement. “During her tenure at Fox News, Gretchen exhibited the highest standards of journalism and professionalism,” the statement said. “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

Also on Tuesday, Greta Van Susteren resigned from Fox News. Her resignation is effective immediately, and she will be replaced by Brit Hume on On the Record. “Fox has not felt like home to me for a few years,” Van Susteren said on her Facebook page, adding that a clause in her contract meant she had to take the opportunity to leave now. Van Susteren said after Carlson’s lawsuit came out that she had never heard anything about sexual harassment allegations against Ailes, and called Carlson a “disgruntled employee.”

Fox’s apology to Carlson and the large, swift settlement suggest two things: one, that Fox is eager to distance itself from Ailes and the decades worth of sexual harassment allegations against him. And two, Carlson probably had very strong evidence against Ailes.

Carlson had been secretly recording her interactions with Ailes since 2014, Gabriel Sherman of New York magazine reported — including an exchange where Ailes allegedly told Carlson that the two of them “should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.”

As big as the settlement is, though, it’s only half of what Ailes received as a severance when he resigned on July 21. Rupert Murdoch, the chair and CEO of 21st Century Fox, retained Ailes as an “adviser.”

Carlson said in a statement that she is “gratified” that Fox took “decisive action” after she filed her lawsuit. “I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life in which I will redouble my efforts to empower women in the workplace,” she said.

Sherman also reported that just two other women other than Carlson are expected to receive settlements from Fox. That’s probably because New York has a three-year statute of limitations on sexual harassment, and many of the allegations against Ailes go back decades.

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