Roger Ailes opts for secrecy, cowardice in face of Gretchen Carlson suit
Erik Wemple writes in the Washington Post:
After Gretchen Carlson filed her stunning sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit against Fox News chief Roger Ailes, the cable-news giant responded, in part, by affirming that the complaint was “wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.” An outside observer might just have concluded that Ailes was girding for a showdown in which his side of the story could get a full hearing. A fair fight within the confines of the civil justice system.
Nope, wrong impression: Ailes wants this thing to recede into the shadows, where the particulars of his dispute with Carlson won’t reach the media. This, from one of the titans of American media.
A filing Friday by attorneys David W. Garland and Barry Asen in a New Jersey federal court signaled Ailes’s intent to pluck the case out of the court system and into an arbitration proceeding, pursuant to Carlson’s now-expired contract with Fox News, from which she was terminated on June 23. She served as an afternoon news host after spending eight years as a co-host of the inimitably awful morning show “Fox & Friends.” The filing cites the following arbitration clause in Carlson’s contract:
Any controversy, claim or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement or Performer’s [Plaintiff’s] employment shall be brought before a mutually selected three-member arbitration panel and held in New York City in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association [“AAA”] then in effect. … Such arbitration, all filings, evidence and testimony connected with the arbitration, and all relevant allegations and events leading up to the arbitration, shall be held in strict confidence.
Now why would Ailes be looking to pull off such a maneuver? Well, the filing itself provides a hint or two. Indulge in the following language: “Plaintiff improperly filed her public Complaint with the Superior Court, as opposed to filing it with the AAA and adhering to her contractually-required confidentiality obligation, so that her counsel could tar Mr. Ailes’s reputation publicly, try this case in the media press, and coerce him to settle. Plaintiff’s counsel has been on a non-stop tour of major media outlets ever since, making one false and defamatory statement after another,” reads the filing, in part.
Oh, Roger Ailes! Where to even start? You are a towering public figure, a big shot in broadcasting, in politics, in New York, everywhere — and you run a network that has specialized in dragging the political opponents of Fox News through the dirt every day via innuendo, grave-sounding anchor voices and occasional falsehoods — especially on Carlson’s miserable former haunt “Fox & Friends.” The Erik Wemple Blog thanks you for this frenzy of self-unawareness; we promise to reference it many, many times in the future.
Back to the merits. From the start, Carlson’s complaint contained one peculiarity, aside from all the allegations that Ailes had propositioned her, had asked her to turn around so he could observer her “posterior,” had instructed her to “get along with the boys” who were allegedly harassing her and had retaliated against her after complaints. That one peculiarity is that the suit was lodged solely against Ailes and did not go after Fox News Channel. The filing by Ailes’s attorneys, with the firm Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., tilts at this ploy: . . .