Out nationwide on December 20, Bombshell brings the story of the sexual harassment allegations against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes to the bring screen. And that includes former Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson, who sued Ailes for sexual harassment three years ago, setting off a series of allegations from other women. (Prior to his death in 2017, Ailes had denied the allegations.) The TV personality’s days at Fox News are long done, and now Gretchen Carlson is putting her energy into fighting for the rights of victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
While Carlson is a main character in Bombshell — she’s played by Nicole Kidman — she wasn’t able to contribute to the film due to a non-disclosure agreement she signed when she reached a settlement in her case. Because of this, she’s unable to talk about her experience working at Fox News. In an essay for the New York Times published on December 12, Carlson writes, “Ironically, while most of the real women involved in the Fox News scandals remain muzzled by NDAs, two high profile Hollywood projects (Showtime’s limited series The Loudest Voice and Lionsgate’s upcoming feature Bombshell) can freely tell stories without our participation.” (According to The Hollywood Reporter, some women spoke to the filmmakers even though they have NDAs.)
The NDA is a major source of frustration for Carlson, she explains in the New York Times piece, because it affects other victims and accusers who are in the same position. So, in her time since leaving Fox News, Carlson has been working on projects to fight against situations like these and to share as much of her story as she is allowed to.
In 2017, she published a book titled Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back, which speaks to her experience coming forward with allegations, as well as the stories of other women who have done the same. Earlier this year, she also released a special on Lifetime called Gretchen Carlson: Breaking the Silence in which she traveled across the country investigating stories of sexual harassment. The special was part of a deal Carlson has with the network to produce three documentaries in total, as reported by Deadline.
As she explained in her New York Times story, Carlson also worked with Congress members to introduce the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act, which sought to end the practice of cases of sexual harassment at companies being dealt with behind closed doors, rather than employees being allowed to sue and taken to their cases to court, as explained by Vox. As the publication also reports, in September, the House passed the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, or FAIR Act, which encompasses the issue Carlson supported, but is more far-reaching.
While Carlson has positioned herself on the right side of history when it comes to the fight against workplace abuse and harassment, it should be noted her time on Fox News was dotted with offensive and absurd opinions. In an August interview with BuzzFeed’s AM to DM, Carlson explained that she couldn’t go into the details of whether the things she said always matched with her own beliefs because of her settlement.
“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,” she said. She also gave this update: “All I can say is I don’t watch Fox anymore.”