Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor who sued the late Roger Ailes and accused him of sexual harassment, says victim-blaming always follows whistleblowing and uses “the same myths as domestic violence.”
Carlson appeared on Sophia Bush’s “Work in Progress” podcast on Tuesday, where she discussed the cultural reaction to women’s whistleblowing and her new initiative, “Lift Our Voices,” which pushes for the end of non-disclosure agreements that prevent employees from discussing sexual harassment and assault.
Bush observed what she called a “cognitive dissonance” in discussions of the #MeToo movement: “We act as though it’s a one-to-one kind of ratio, like, ‘You could have done more. You could have said more. Why didn’t you quit?'”
To which Carlson continued, “‘Why did you stay?’ They’re all the same myths as domestic violence.”
Bush noted most observers don’t realize what a “David and Goliath story” it is when a woman accuses someone of inappropriate workplace behavior, calling misperceptions “infuriating.” Carlson agreed, saying the viewpoint was “culturally ingrained.”
“See that’s the problem, is what I’ve learned: It’s so culturally engrained that we, for some reason, will go to the ends of the earth to protect a predator,” she said. “I’ve seen it. I mean, I just could have never envisioned that this was such a pervasive epidemic when I did what I did but I started hearing from thousands of women in every profession. It was unbelievable to me.”
“You assume it’s just you,” added Bush.
“You assume it’s you because, see, corporations have figured out a way — and society — to make you feel all alone, right?” Carlson agreed. “By silencing you and putting you in these secret chambers where nobody ever finds out what happened to you. Just get rid of the troublemaker: ‘Let’s get rid of her.’ We’ve got it totally bass-ackwards … And guess what? It’s protecting predators who aren’t even the moneymakers. I found out the really sad, scary state of affairs in our country is we’ll protect also the low-end employee who is a harasser. I’ve seen it.”
She went on, echoing what fellow former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly said when asked why she still speaks up instead of enjoying her money and private life.
“We have a lot of soul searching to do as a nation. It’s why I took the reins of this issue and ran with it. A lot of people said to me, ‘After your case resolved, you could have just gone home, spent more time with your dog and kids.’ That’s not me. I’ve always been a fighter,” she said.
In October, Kelly, Carlson, Greta Van Susteren and other leading women in TV news called on Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and the board of directors to launch an independent investigation of sexual harassment issues at NBC News.