'The Loudest Voice': How Naomi Watts's Gretchen Carlson waged a war against Roger Ailes, the god of Fox News, and won
'The Loudest Voice' is Showtime's way of exposing all the crimes committed by Roger Ailes and calling everyone in Fox News out for not holding him accountable for his crimes. Based on the Gabriel Sherman book 'The Loudest Voice in the Room', the miniseries will take a look at some of the biggest moments in the life of Roger Ailes, and the episodes are titled as such – '1995', '2001', '2008', '2009' and '2012'.
During the course of his long career as a network news producer and as a political consultant, he changed the way people consume news. However, that is not all that Ailes – who is portrayed by Russell Crow in the series - is reputed for. As an untouchable figure within the realms of Fox News and even outside of it in many ways, Ailes used his power to bully subordinates and prey on women. This will be a central theme in 'The Loudest Voice', along with his takedown.
Ailes was a god in the Fox News offices, but many women found the courage to come forward and accuse him of abusing them. At the forefront of this group of women was Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America winner, who went on to become a television commentator, journalist, author and female empowerment advocate. The role of Carlson is played by Naomi Watts on 'The Loudest Voice', and in the trailer, we see her saying, "He berates me constantly. He is a bully."
That quote pretty much sums up how most people felt about Ailes, but their voices were silenced implicitly and explicitly. Many women suffered silently, until Carlson came forward, armed with truth and vengeance. Megyn Kelly, one of the best known Fox New alumni, who played a huge part in Ailes's takedown is certainly among the loudest accusers, but she is not a part of the show.
On not including Kelly, Sherman, who also serves as an executive producer on the show, said, "Megyn Kelly was a peripheral participant in Ailes' downfall. It was Gretchen Carlson and her lawyer Nancy Erika Smith who drove the events that led to Ailes' ouster...By the time [Kelly] spoke to investigators, Ailes' fate had been sealed. Any dramatization that makes her a central character in Ailes' takedown is pure fiction."
Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes in the Superior Court of New Jersey, while he was still the chairman of Fox News. Following this, she revealed on Twitter that she is no longer working with the network and that she was allegedly fired from her program for refusing Ailes' sexual advances.
Carlson's actions inspired six more alleged victims to come forward and speak the truth on New York Magazine, where Sherman interviewed them. The women accused Ailes of speaking openly about performing sexual acts and making it clear that he expects sexual favors from women in exchange for their jobs.
Following these allegations, Carlson told The New York Times that she "wanted to stand up for other women who may be faced similar circumstances." She also accused Fox News of forcing her into a "mandatory arbitration" rather than going to court. "Forcing victims of sexual harassment into secret arbitration proceedings is wrong because it means nobody finds out what really happened," she said.
Having become one of the most popular figures to have pushed back after being harassed, she became a beacon of hope to fellow survivors everywhere, even posting Twitter videos, where she offered her support to them.
The movement that Carlson started gained momentum and it rapidly affected Ailes' reputation and standing in Fox News, finally forcing him to step down from his role as the chairman in the company on July 21, 2016. Carlson said at the time that her fear of not being believed has been eradicated but the fact that he was around for four years after her lawsuit, was infuriating.
Two months later, on September 6, Carlson settled the lawsuit with Fox News for $20 million. The settlement also included an official apology from Fox News, which read, "We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”
Carlson is a trailblazer and a woman who fought an uphill battle and won it. From the looks of it, Watts will do full justice to her. Don’t forget to watch Watt's portrayal of Carlson when 'The Loudest Voice' premieres at 10 pm ET on June 30, Sunday.