Back Talk took on several issues today including the recent settlement by Fox News to Gretchen Carlson, among others, as well as the departure of Greta Van Susteran. The Fox settlement is significant in so many ways and not just because the monetary amount (reportedly $20 million) is so high.
First, and foremost, the bravery of the many women coming forward to speak on issues such as abuse and harassment should not be underscored nor should it be ignored. It takes a lot to make that decision because you know the repercussions will be swift, sneaky and subtle. These repercussions won’t always be hard to prove. You are exposing yourself, and your career, to a system that is largely unsympathetic and broken. Its a system that puts the victims on trial and dehumanizes her while the alleged perpetrator historically gets excuses and forgiveness.
Second, the solidarity of women across all boundaries is important. Once Carlson filed her lawsuit, many women came forward with support and their own stories as well. As with Bill Cosby, the sheer volume was impossible to ignore. The lessons learned from the Cosby story and the Fox scandal will resonate for years to come. Hopefully, progress and change will come as well.
Last, but certainly not least, Fox News did something virtually unprecedented in its settlement agreement. It admitted liability and pledged to make changes. Typically, settlements come with no admission of guilt even if promises of change are part and parcel of the agreement. The acknowledgement that the allegations of harassment at Fox is wrong and will not be tolerated sends a huge message that women must be treated professionally.