WASHINGTON: Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson has been named the new chairperson of the Miss America beauty pageant, becoming the first former winner to lead the organization following a scandal over lewd and sexist emails.
Her appointment, announced in a statement Monday, came just over a week after the resignation of the pageant’s under-fire CEO Sam Haskell, who had written some of the emails that contained misogynistic, fat- and slut-shaming language.
“Honored to move this iconic program forward with so many amazing volunteers,” the 51-year-old Carlson, who won the competition in 1989, wrote on Twitter.
Carlson’s appointment was effective immediately, the organization said, adding that three other former winners would join the board of directors.
“Most previously serving directors have resigned,” the statement said.
Dozens of former beauty queens had demanded that Haskell step down after The Huffington Post published leaked internal emails that included a vulgarity to refer to past winners and the shaming of one over her weight and sex life, with Haskell calling her “a piece of trash.”
The news site initially quoted the Miss America Organization as saying it was notified about the emails months earlier and fired a telecast writer — the “most egregious author of inappropriate comments.”
But in a matter of days, Haskell, Miss America president Josh Randle and board chair Lynn Weidner all resigned.
The scandal prompted the show’s producers, Dick Clark Productions, to sever ties with the organization.
Carlson — who is best known for her decade-long tenure as an anchor at Fox News — made headlines in 2016 when she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the network’s then boss Roger Ailes, precipitating his departure.
The suit was settled for a reported $20 million.
Commenting on the scandal, Carlson said: “Everyone has been stunned by the events of the last several days, and this has not been easy for anyone who loves this program.
“In the end, we all want a strong, relevant Miss America and we appreciate the existing board taking the steps necessary to quickly begin stabilizing the organization for the future.” -AFP