Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson has written an editorial in The New York Times calling on the network to release her and other victims of sexual harassment from their non-disclosure agreements so that they can speak about their experiences. She calls it the "next phase" in the #MeToo movement.
Carlson wrote in the Times that when she originally settled her bombshell lawsuit, she thought the public apology and the right to speak about harassment were “big wins.” So, presumably, was the $20 million she allegedly received.
“At the time, I just wanted to bring closure to an ugly chapter in my life,” Carlson wrote. She said she never imagined that her story would become “a mini-series and a movie and become part of a global rallying cry."
Apparently, Carlson has things she’d like to say about those film projects. And maybe she feels she should be financially compensated, too:
In practical terms, my NDA means I am legally prohibited from discussing — in public and in private — what happened to me. It means I cannot consult with filmmakers, writers, journalists or anyone else telling my story — whether it’s about the depiction of me, my family or the events themselves — nor can I comment on the accuracy of a final product. I don’t know precisely what Fox would do if I violated the agreement, but presumably it’d take legal and financial actions. It’s a strange and frustrating reality.
Full disclosure: I have had mixed feelings about Carlson. While I certainly sympathize with her treatment at Fox News and admire her gumption for coming forward before there was a #MeToo movement, I can’t forget that she long promoted Fox's brand of poisonous propaganda.
That said, there is real reason to believe that Carlson has reflected and reconsidered. At the end of an October, 2017 interview with Slate, Carlson hinted at her disapproval of Donald Trump and her approval of other journalists working to hold him accountable - a heresy at Fox. She told interviewer Isaac Chotiner she’d “love to” talk about how she looks back on her career but can’t because of the NDA. This quote closed the interview:
I can tell you that I have always put human decency in front of any political policy, and that is where I will leave it with regard to the current administration, and I will follow-up by saying that over the last 15 months, it’s been wonderful to watch all the competitors on television, and I have immense respect for all my colleagues I used to work with. Not at Fox. I don’t mean that about Fox. I mean that about all my colleagues who work in the journalism business.
Putting all that aside, Carlson has a real point when she says, “I want my voice back. I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs.” She pointed out the “positive movement in this direction” that includes NBC releasing its former employees. Carlson also said she has formed a nonprofit called Lift Our Voices “to advocate an end to the harmful practice of mandatory NDAs, confidentiality provisions and forced arbitration clauses that have prevented employees from publicly discussing and disclosing toxic workplace conditions, including sexual harassment and assault.”
Carlson closed the Times editorial with this forceful appeal:
Today I call on Fox News to release me, and all employees forced to sign NDAs as a condition of harassment settlements, from these agreements immediately. None of us expected or wanted a workplace dispute — we were simply the ones who had the ability and the courage to speak up, and for that, we lost our jobs. We have a right to say what is factually correct or incorrect about what happened. We have a right to our voices and our truths. I urge executives at Fox to do what’s right and take this step today. For the sake of all women, in every workplace. That would be the biggest bombshell of all.
100% to that. Carlson and her colleagues deserve their voice back and we all deserve to hear what they have to say.
Check out Carlson's full December 12, 2019 editorial here.
(H/T reader Eric Jefferson)
Published with permission from News Hounds.