Gretchen Carlson served for years as one of the cohosts of Fox & Friends, but since her highly publicized exit from Fox News, she said she no longer even watches the conservative network — although that doesn’t mean she’s going to talk about her controversial time there.
“All I can say is I don’t watch Fox anymore,” Carlson said during an interview with BuzzFeed News’ AM to DM on Tuesday. “So it’s been really educational to be able to not be in the news business right now for the last three years, not be labeled as part of the whole ‘fake news crew.’”
Carlson revealed her viewing habits while responding to a question about what she would say to people who might feel her new work as an anti–sexual harassment campaigner conflicted with the content broadcast on Fox News.
“I have a lot of respect for all of my colleagues who are in the journalism field because I’ve had a chance to watch all of them now,” she said, “but I’ll just leave it with the fact that I don’t watch Fox.”
In 2016, Carlson sued Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, claiming her contract with the network was not renewed because she rejected his advances. She alleged he repeatedly subjected her to sexual innuendo about her and suggested her problems would have gone away if she had slept with him. He denied the charges, but Fox News later settled the lawsuit for a reported $20 million. Following her lawsuit, more than 20 women came forward to accuse Ailes of sexual harassment, including Megyn Kelly. Ailes was forced to resign, reportedly receiving a $40 million exit package, and died in May 2017.
Carlson was asked by BuzzFeed News whether her controversial on-air opinions at Fox News — she once complained she’d need to explain transgender people to her child after watching Glee, accused a school district of pushing a “political agenda” for adopting gender-inclusive language, and played a role in spreading a racist hoax about Barack Obama being Muslim — were legitimately held or whether she was parroting what executives were telling her.
Citing her legal settlement with the network (and its likely nondisclosure terms), she declined to respond with any substantial detail.
“I’m going to let you and the people watching make your opinion about that, because I can’t get into — speaking back to my settlement, I can’t get into the exact details,” she said.
Referring to her newfound work as an anti–sexual harassment advocate, she continued, “but I think if you look at who I’ve been over the last three years then it’ll be pretty obvious that I’ve always been an advocate for women and for anyone else who is fighting a battle. I have always done that throughout my career.”
However, she did suggest her legal settlement with Fox News has prevented her from fully reckoning with her time at the network.
“And so where I worked, it’s a very difficult process for me to be able to analyze it,” she said, “because I can’t tell you exactly all of the details.”
Carlson is being played by Nicole Kidman in the upcoming movie Bombshell, in which Ailes will be played by John Lithgow. She was also played by Kidman’s fellow Australian Naomi Watts in the Showtime series The Loudest Voice. “The idea that either of these two women even know who Gretchen is is, like, unreal,” Carlson told AM to DM.
The teaser trailer for the Kidman movie, which also stars Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie, dropped last week, right as Carlson said she was preparing for a family getaway. “I was trying to go away with my kids to northern Minnesota and all of a sudden I was like, Wheewwwww, OK, I guess we’re going to be talking about this,” she said.
But she stressed that because of her settlement she has not been involved with either the movie or the Showtime series. “Since I can’t take part I just hope it’s as accurate as possible because this was such an emotional time in my life,” she said. “And I don’t think people understand that I can’t take part.”
Carlson, who is now working on the Beyond the Headlines documentary series for Lifetime, said this was part of the reason she’s been campaigning for legislation to ensure sexual harassment complaints aren’t forced into secretive arbitration processes or legal settlements that end with nondisclosure agreements.
She said people on all sides of politics should support her work because “sexual harassment is apolitical.”
“Really this is not about being a Democrat or a Republican. When somebody decides to harass you, they don’t ask you what political party you’re in. They just do it,” she said. “And that’s why we should come together as a nation to be able to solve this.”
Watch the full interview with Gretchen Carlson: