Shortly before 21st Century Fox announced a settlement in the Gretchen Carlson sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, an attorney representing Ailes sent a threatening letter to New York magazine while possibly pursuing a defamation claim. On the same day that the settlement was announced, Fox News abruptly released Greta Van Susteren from her contract without renewing it.
After a year and a half of recording her conversations with Ailes on her cellphone, Gretchen Carlson accused her former boss of making lewd comments and repeatedly sexually harassing her. On Tuesday, the parent company of Fox News’ parent company reportedly reached a $20 million settlement with Carlson, who agreed not to pursue any further legal action against the corporation.
“We are proud that she was part of the Fox News team,” 21st Century Fox wrote in a statement. “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.”
In response to the settlement, Carlson wrote, “I am gratified that 21st Century Fox took decisive action after I filed my Complaint. 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. I want to thank all the brave women who came forward to tell their own stories and the many people across the country who embraced and supported me in their #StandWithGretchen. All women deserve a dignified and respectful workplace in which talent, hard work and loyalty are recognized, revered and rewarded.”
When asked if Ailes would be contributing a portion of the $20 million settlement, his lawyer, Susan Estrich, told The New York Times, “Mr. Ailes is not contributing anything.”
On Monday, a spokeswoman for New York magazine told CNN, “New York Media and Gabriel Sherman were contacted by Charles Harder on behalf of Roger and Elizabeth Ailes, asking that we preserve documents related to the Ailes, for a possible defamation claim.”
Sherman wrote an article published on Friday that chronicles Ailes’ abhorrent fall from grace and numerous sexual harassment allegations, including accusations from Megyn Kelly, Laurie Luhn, and Andrea Tantaros. Representing Melania Trump in a libel suit against The Daily Mail, Harder also represented Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea in his successful defamation suit against Gawker.
Shortly after 21st Century Fox announced the settlement with Carlson, Fox News abruptly released Greta Van Susteren without renewing her contract. Although Van Susteren had intended to host her show on Tuesday, Fox News decided to immediately replace her with Brit Hume.
According to Fox News, Van Susteren’s contract included a “key man” clause allowing her to leave if Ailes departed. After Ailes left in July, Van Susteren attempted to renegotiate her contract until receiving a letter on Tuesday informing her that she would not be allowed to deliver an on-air farewell.
Following the announcement of her departure, Van Susteren wrote on Facebook, “Fox has not felt like home to me for a few years and I took advantage of the clause in my contract which allows me to leave now.”
During a recent interview, Van Susteren’s husband, John Coale, told The New York Times, “There’s more than meets the eye” and that there “might be litigation in the future.”