Roger Ailes: Sexual harassment allegations are false, Gretchen Carlson's 'low ratings' were dragging down network

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes denied accusations of sexual harassment and slammed the host who filed a lawsuit against him in a statement released Wednesday evening.

Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed the lawsuit against Ailes following a decision not to renew her contract.

In a statement provided to CNN, Carlson’s attorneys said the former host of “The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson” was fired by the network after she “rebuffed Mr. Ailes sexual advances” and challenged what she perceived as unequal treatment of women in the workplace.

Ailes called these allegations “false.”

“This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup,” Ailes said in a statement provided to Business Insider. “When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit.”

Carlson announced on Wednesday that she was no longer with Fox News. In a press release about her lawsuit, Carlson’s representatives said Ailes told her last year: “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better.”

The release also alleged that Ailes called Carlson a “man hater.”

Ailes also noted that Carlson praised and thanked him in her recently published book.

“Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book,” Ailes said in the statement. “This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.”

21st Century Fox also pushed back on the Carlson lawsuit in a statement Wednesday evening, defending both Ailes and “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy, who was also referenced in lawsuit documents. Before she got her own show, Carlson was also a co-host on “Fox & Friends.”

“The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy,” the Fox statement said. “We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter.”

It is standard operating procedure for Fox to conduct an internal review on any sexual harassment claim.

Maxwell Tani contributed to this report.

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