Politico

Is Gretchen Carlson ready to run for office?

Subscribe to Women Rule on Apple Podcasts here. | Subscribe via Stitcher here.

Gretchen Carlson is having a moment.

And for the former Fox News anchor-turned-activist — who has watched the shift in the climate surrounding sexual assault and harassment with some sense of pride — it’s no longer a solitary one.

Back in 2016, when she filed a landmark sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, Fox News’ chairman and CEO, Carlson went through what she called an “incredibly lonely, fearful experience.”

But now the conversations around harassment in the workplace are “totally different from when I jumped off the cliff 18 months ago by myself,” she told POLITICO’s Anna Palmer on the latest episode of the “Women Rule” podcast. Citing the #MeToo movement and Hollywood women’s “Time’s Up” initiative, Carlson is calling it “a cultural revolution.”

On a personal level, Carlson is experiencing revolutions of her own: Since she settled the harassment suit with Fox News’ parent company for $20 million, Carlson has come out with a new book (“Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Back Your Power”), lobbied on Capitol Hill to end forced arbitration clauses, started a charitable foundation and, most recently, taken over as the head of the Miss America pageant.

And in her wide-ranging interview with “Women Rule,” Carlson revealed she’s also plotting a comeback on the airwaves.

“I do plan on getting back into television,” she said. “I’ve just started to dip my feet back in the waters of figuring out what might be out there, and what might that look like for Gretchen, because it may or may not be a daily show. It may be something totally different.”

She’s excited about one project in particular: a new docuseries “with an iconic Hollywood producer.” Promising that it’ll be “amazing” and “incredibly timely,” Carlson stayed tight-lipped about the series’ exact focus but noted that it would be out in May of this year.

For the moment, Carlson is focused on the place that first launched her television career: the Miss America pageant.

The former pageant queen recently took the reigns as chair of the organization, following the resignation of its CEO and previous chairman amid leaks of sexist email exchanges.

For her tenure, Carlson — who was crowned Miss America in 1989 while representing Minnesota — is pledging a cultural shift at the pageant contest. And in the interview, she laid out a plan that includes filling out her board of directors, hiring a new CEO and tackling how to “message” the organization. She acknowledged that it’s going to be “a challenge” to turn the messaging around the pageant into one that’s about empowering women.

With Carlson’s recent focus on women’s empowerment and activism, it has led some to question whether the former news anchor plans to run for political office.

“I was asked to run for Senate in Connecticut,” she said. “Some people were putting my name out there for Minnesota in my home state.”

But a career on Capitol Hill isn’t likely to be in the cards just yet. Of speculation that she could run for Senate this year in her native Minnesota, Carlson said, “I’m not moving back there right now, and I’m not running for Senate in Connecticut right now.”

Still, Carlson left the door open to a future in politics.

“Look at my life. It’s been mysterious, right?” she said. “And I’ve gone through so many different paths. So I’m not going to say never, because I don’t know, to be honest with you.”

For now, she’s encouraging other women to loudly advocate for themselves — in Congress, in their workplace, in races for local office.

“We need to tell our members of Congress what we care about,” she said. “Speaking up and being fierce is more than just speaking up about sexual harassment. It’s about having a voice about any injustice you face in your life.”

Read below for more highlights from the “Women Rule” interview with Carlson.

2:00 Carlson discusses the “cultural revolution” happening around sexual harassment and assault in the work place. After feeling like the lone voice speaking out against it back in July 2016, Carlson says, she would consider herself a catalyst for the current moment.

“The gift of courage is contagious,” she says.

6:00 Carlson weighs in on her childhood in Minnesota and her past lives as a classical violinist and pageant queen.

“I never expected to be the face of sexual harassment, for God’s sake,” she says. “I never expected to be the chairwoman of the Miss America organization. But the one consistent thing in my life has been that when there’s a challenge in front of me, I go for it.”

10:00 Carlson talks about President Donald Trump and her 30-year relationship with the celebrity billionaire.

“I was not surprised that he became president of the United States,” she says. “Because he used to come on my morning show, right when ‘The Apprentice’ started.”

14:00 The new chair of the Miss America pageant lays out a plan for changes in the organization and what she hopes to accomplish.

“It’s a huge volunteer job,” Carlson says. “How do we bring Miss America up to speed in this same way in which I jumped off that cliff, for all women? How do we make this as empowering as we possibly can? So, there may be changes coming.”

18:00 Carlson goes over her book “Be Fierce” and gives advice to women encountering sexual harassment at work.

“There’s a whole chapter on parenting,” she mentions. “There’s a whole chapter on men, because so many men reached out to me after this, saying, ‘We want to help.’”

24:00 Carlson tells the story of how she has talked to her own children about her experiences with harassment.

“The night before I filed the suit, I sat my children down and told them for the first time,” she says. “And you know, it was a very emotional experience, because I had no earthly idea what the hell was going to happen next.”

27:00 The former news anchor discusses her latest charitable efforts, like the Gift of Courage fund she began and the Gretchen Carlson Leadership Initiative for Underserved Women, which holds workshops for women around the country on how to handle sexual harassment and domestic violence.

28:00 Carlson discusses her future, including the possibility of running for political office, and another career in television.

Continue

About the author

Lisa

Leave a Comment