Who Is Gretchen Carlson? All About the Fox News Anchor (and Former Miss America) Who Brought Sexual Harassment Suit
Carlson is suing Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment
Here’s everything you need to know about the longtime Fox News host at the center of the scandal, who claims her former employer “sabotaged her career because she refused sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment,” according to the filing obtained by PEOPLE.
She was high school valedictorian and graduated from Stanford University with honors.
Carlson, now 50, grew up in Anoka, Minnesota, and is of Swedish descent.
She was the valedictorian of her high school graduating class in 1984 and went on to study sociology at Stanford University.
“One of my proudest moments in life was earning the valedictorian medal in high school. I worked so hard for it!” she told Fox News Insider in 2015. “I was also proud to get into Stanford, where I graduated with honors, and to study at Oxford.”
She’s a family woman.
Carlson has been married to sports agent Casey Close since 1997. Close, a former baseball player, is Derek Jeter‘s longtime rep.
Carlson and Close have two kids: son Christian and daughter Kaia. The family currently resides in Connecticut.
She’s a former Miss America.
Carlson won the title of Miss Minnesota in 1988 before going on to win the Miss America title in 1989.
She was the first classical violinist to hold the crown and serves on the board of the Miss America Organization.
She’s been working in journalism for almost two decades.
Carlson began serving as a CBS News correspondent in 2000 before becoming co-anchor of the network’s Saturday Early Show in 2002.
She moved on to Fox News in 2006, hosting Fox & Friends until 2013 and working with co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade for several years. (Doocy is also under fire in the lawsuit, with Carlson alleging he “regularly treat[ed] her in a sexist and condescending way” and “engaged in a pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment” that was tantamount to treating her as “a blond female prop.”)
In 2013, Carlson moved on from Fox & Friends to host The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, a position she held until she was terminated June 23, the day her contract expired.
“As you may have heard, I am no longer with Fox News,” Carlson wrote on Twitter and Facebook Wednesday. “I value your support and friendship, especially now, so please stay in touch with me.”
She followed up with a second tweet: “Thank you, everyone, for your outpouring of support. #StandWithGretchen.”
She’s long been vocal about the issue of sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace.
In 2012, Carlson walked off the set of Fox & Friends after her co-host Kilmeade made a sexist comment.
“Women are everywhere. We’re letting them play golf and tennis now. It’s out of control,” Kilmeade reportedly said, to which Carlson got up to leave after responding: “You know what? You read the headlines, since men are so great. Go ahead.”
In 2015, Carlson published a book, Getting Real, in which she detailed the sexually predatory men she encountered in the workplace.
Carlson has also been open about the sexual harassment she experienced as Miss America.
“I wasn’t naïve, but at the end of my Miss America year, when two different executives attacked me during what I thought were informational interviews about jobs, I was shocked,” she wrote in a Q&A on her website. “I didn’t see it coming, and the worst thing about it was the shame I felt, as if I’d done something wrong.”
“Later, on my first television job, it happened again when I was sexually harassed by a cameraman. Today’s companies are more attuned to the issue, but the young women I talk to are still reluctant to report sexual harassment – just like I was – for fear that it will hurt their careers,” she continued. “My hope is that with more women in the workplace, we can teach younger generations to be respectful, and also encourage young women to speak up when they’ve experienced abuse.”
“It’s equally important that we raise our sons to be accepting of women in the workplace and grow into men who model that respect,” she added.