Greta Van Susteren has left Fox News, claiming she has long been unhappy there. This, just two months after she ardently defended Roger Ailes and disparaged Gretchen Carlson’s claims of sexual harassment. It's also the same day that Fox settled with Gretchen Carlson for $20 million.
On Thursday night, I made my decision and informed Fox News of my decision that I was leaving Fox News Channel per my contract.
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. The clause had a time limitation, meaning I could not wait.
Fox’s Howard Kurtz said Van Susteren’s departure was due to a contract dispute:
According to a source familiar with the process, Van Susteren asked to renegotiate her contract after Roger Ailes resigned under pressure as Fox News chairman following a sexual harassment lawsuit. Van Susteren is one of a number of key Fox personnel whose contract included a “key man” clause allowing her to leave if Ailes departed.
When those negotiations deadlocked, Van Susteren chose to invoke the departure option, the sources said. Her last show was Thursday, and the swiftness of events did not allow her to deliver an on-air farewell.
Gabriel Sherman cast doubt on that today in New York Magazine, saying that "a source close to Van Susteren" told him she left because “she is troubled by the culture” Ailes built.
Van Susteren’s husband seemed to back up Sherman – and suggested she might sue Fox, in today’s New York Times:
Ms. Van Susteren’s husband, John P. Coale, said in a phone interview on Tuesday that his wife exercised what is known as “key man clause’’ on Friday, which allowed her to leave if Mr. Ailes was not in control.
He said, “There’s so much chaos, it’s very hard to work there.” He said the timing of her departure with the announcement of the settlement with Ms. Carlson was a “coincidence.”
Asked about why she had exercised the key man clause, he said, “There’s more than meets the eye” and that there “might be litigation in the future” so he did not want to talk further.
Van Susteren also described Ailes as “the king of cable,” adding that although it’s not always a perfect, she’s enjoyed a “very professional and very successful” working relationship with her boss.
“If Roger Ailes were how he’s described, there’s no way I would’ve stuck around. I don’t feel like putting up with that stuff and I wouldn’t,” she says. “Even if he weren’t doing it to me, I wouldn’t want to work in that environment. I sort of feel bad for Gretchen Carlson because it’s sort of a weird thing that she’s done. What she’s alleging is something that is alien to me. I’ve never heard it.”
Van Susteren also defended Ailes against Carlson that same day to The Daily Beast:
“This one’s wrong, based on my experience. […] Don’t forget: I’m a lawyer with two law degrees [a juris doctor and master of law from Georgetown University]. I wouldn’t stick around if this were a weird place like that.”
Another odd thing: As Huffington Post reported, “It’s highly unusual for a network host to leave so suddenly.”
The network’s choice of Brit Hume to replace Van Susteren also strikes me as unlikely. Hume does not seem of a piece with the usual substitute hosts such as Kimberly Guilfoyle or Shannon Bream. I can’t think of a single time Hume has substituted for any host since retiring as anchor of Special Report in 2008, especially not for any show like On The Record.
I suspect more will be revealed about this at a later time.
Watch Fox News’ announcement of Van Susteren’s departure, below, from the September 6, 2016 America’s Newsroom.
Van Susteren photo via screen grab.
Crossposted at News Hounds.
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