OFF THE RECORD
Why Did Greta Van Susteren Leave Fox News?
The first Fox News star to defend Roger Ailes from sexual-harassment allegations has now allegedly quit the network over the “culture” he built.
Two months after defending Roger Ailes from allegations of sexual harassment, Greta Van Susteren is out at Fox News.
The leading cable-news network abruptly announced Tuesday morning that the 14-year veteran of the channel was gone. Fox News’s official statement gave no explanation for her exit, while heaping praise from executives and noting that Brit Hume would return to the anchor chair to take over On the Record, her nightly primetime show.
Sources close to the situation told Politico that the 62-year-old ex-lawyer left over a “financial disagreement” while attempting to renegotiate her contract following Ailes’s ouster from the network. Van Susteren was reportedly one of Fox’s hosts with a clause allowing her to walk should the network’s mastermind leave. Van Susteren’s colleague Howard Kurtz reported that she opted to invoke that departure clause when the renegotiations went south.
New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman—whose reporting played a key role in exposing Ailes’s alleged serial sexual harassment—disputed that narrative, however, reporting that sources close to Van Susteren said she left because “she is troubled by the culture” Ailes left behind.
Such alleged revulsion at Ailes’s penchant for preying upon ambitious women, and the reported means by which his executives and flacks shielded him from consequences, might come as a surprise. Van Susteren was one of the first Fox Newsers to publicly defend Ailes.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, shortly after Gretchen Carlson filed her bombshell lawsuit alleging repeated harassment from Ailes, the On the Record anchor said, “I’ve never seen it or heard it or suspected it.” She suggested Carlson falsely accused Ailes of harassment because of money.
“I imagine she’s quite unhappy that her contract wasn’t renewed,” she said.
“This doesn't have any ring of truth to me,” she told People. “I would have heard it. People don't keep things silent.”
But perhaps after a steady stream of new allegations came to light, including accusations that Ailes “psychologically tortured” longtime Fox booker Laurie Luhn with multiple decades of harassment, Van Susteren had a change of heart and saw the culture for what it is.
Without commenting on the supposed financial disputes or the sexual-harassment culture, Van Susteren wrote on her public Facebook page that her departure was completely voluntary: “On Thursday night, I made my decision and informed Fox News of my decision that I was leaving Fox News Channel per my contract.”
She added: “I took advantage of the clause in my contract which allows me to leave now.” Why? “Fox has not felt like home to me for a few years.”
Three years ago, it was reported that Van Susteren had initiated meetings with CNN chief Jeff Zucker about returning to her first cable-news home. Those talks obviously fell through, and sources at the network tell The Daily Beast that interest in bringing her back now would be near-zero.