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Fox News settles with Gretchen Carlson for $20 million

Carlson's complaint alleged years of sexist treatment by Ailes including promises of advancement in exchange for sexual favors and retaliation when she refused.
September 6, 2016, 2:23pm
Roger Ailes in the Fox News studio in 2006. The former CEO and co-founder of the cable news network was ousted in the wake of sex harassment allegations. AP Photo/Jim Cooper, File

Gretchen Carlson, the onetime Fox News host who sued her former boss Roger Ailes for sexual harassment in July, reportedly settled with parent company 21st Century Fox on Tuesday for a sum of $20 million. The company, currently run by Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch, also put out a public apology.

"We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she & all our colleagues deserve," read the company's public apology, according to New York magazine.

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Vanity Fair reported the break in Carlson's case, which was not lodged against the network but Ailes himself: Fox stepped in as the ex-chairman's guarantor, covering at least a large portion of the settlement along with Ailes.

Fox reportedly gets something out of the deal: Carlson agreed not to pursue any future legal action against other network executives or the company as whole, Vanity Fair reported.

The magazine added that Fox has reached settlement agreements with two other women accusing Ailes of sexual abuse. Observers continue to speculate on the position of Megyn Kelly, a network superstar who reportedly told investigators she dealt with sexual abuse and whose contract is up for negotiation in less than a year.

Carlson's complaint, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, alleged years of sexist treatment by Ailes including promises of advancement in exchange for sexual favors and retaliation when she refused.

"I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you'd be good and better and I'd be good and better," Ailes told her, according to the complaint. "Sometimes problems are easier to solve that way."

Bumped from her perch on the morning news show "Fox & Friends," Carlson eventually taped Ailes during phone conversations to capture his advances on record.

The news of the settlement follows reports that Ailes is on the warpath against New York reporter Gabriel Sherman, a longtime nuisance to Ailes who over the past two months has broke several of the key developments in the scandal. Ailes has retained lawyer Charles Harder, the attorney who represented Hulk Hogan in his own recent suit against Gawker Media, which was bankrolled by billionaire tech baron Peter Thiel and sent the media company into bankruptcy.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that Harder sent New York and Sherman letters demanding full documentation of Sherman's reporting.