Gretchen Carlson fires back at Miss America: ‘I have never bullied or silenced you’

August 20, 2018

Gretchen Carlson countered allegations of mistreatment that the reigning Miss America, Cara Mund, made in recent days. 'I so wished Cara had picked up the phone and discussed her concerns with me directly, before going to the media with allegations of bullying,' Carlson said in a statement on Sunday.

With just two weeks left until the start of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, the saga of Miss America 1989 vs. Miss America 2018 is the main event.

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Gretchen Carlson, the ’80s victor and chairwoman of the Miss America Board of Directors, has publicly responded to claims from the reigning Miss America, Cara Mund, that Carlson and pageant leaders bullied and silenced Mund over the past few months. 




“I so wished Cara had picked up the phone and discussed her concerns with me directly, before going to the media with allegations of bullying,” Carlson said in a statement that she tweeted on Sunday night (see tweet below). She claimed that the Miss America Organization lost a potential $75,000 increase in scholarship money because of Mund’s complaints.

Mund, 24, wrote a scathing, detailed letter to a group of former Miss Americas on Thursday. In the letter, which was sent to the media and posted on a public pageant forum, Mund alleged that Carlson made little room for her to be the public face of the pageant. That was a role Carlson preferred to occupy herself during major interviews, Mund said, like when she announced the dissolution of the swimsuit competition in June.

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“Right away, the new leadership delivered an important message,” Mund wrote. “There will be only one Miss America at a time, and she isn’t me.”

Mund claims she has been pushed aside after Carlson and pageant CEO Regina Hopper took over in the wake of a messy email scandal that ousted the former CEO.

At first, Carlson, 52, praised Mund. 

“As a Brown graduate, you aspire to go to law school and one day run for Governor in your home state of North Dakota,” she said. “You embody the mission of Miss America.”

But Carlson, who said Mund will now only communicate with her by email, directly countered the allegations from Miss America. 

“I also want to be clear that I have never bullied or silenced you,” Carlson said. “In fact, I have acknowledged to you and your parents many times that the organization understands the frustrations of serving during such a change-filled and stressful year.” 

Mund had been Miss America for three months in December 2017 when leaked emails from Sam Haskell, the former pageant CEO, came to light, revealing he had approved of misogynistic comments about former Miss Americas and had himself disparaged a former titleholder.

In the last few days, the number of former Miss Americas seeking Carlson, Hopper and the Miss America board’s ouster before the pageant broadcast on Sept. 9 has grown from 11 to 17. As of Sunday night, 17,909 people had signed their Change.org petition.

A similar petition from state pageant leaders has swelled from 22 states to at least 25. Contestants will represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the 2019 pageant at Boardwalk Hall.

Carlson noted that “a majority of former Miss Americas” nominated her to become chairwoman of the board, “an unpaid, volunteer, full-time position.” 

“I accepted the challenge with some trepidation,” she said. “The program (Miss America) had given me so much, but I knew that re-positioning the organization would require real strength and commitment.” 

State directors and former Miss Americas claim Carlson and Hopper, the CEO, misled the Miss America faithful about why the swimsuits had to go away. They said they were told the competition wouldn’t be broadcast on ABC if the swimsuit portion remained. Carlson and Hopper denied this and said production partners had instead pushed to cut the swimsuits. 

Carlson also referenced #MeToo in her reply to Mund. The former Fox News host emerged as a prominent voice in the movement after she sued former Fox CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment in 2016 (and reportedly settled for $20 million). She has fended off criticism that she tried to link the swimsuit decision to the watershed cultural moment for women and victims of sexual harassment and assault.

“You are at the epicenter of a very historic moment for women,” Carlson told Mund. “Over the past two years, our country has undergone a seismic shift in how professional women are depicted and treated. Cara, you have the opportunity to be at the forefront of real, positive change for young women across this country. I am so hopeful you’ll be a part of that.”

“She already IS apart of the change,” argued Miss America 2004, Ericka Dunlap, on Twitter. “She has a hashtag dontcha know! #StandWithCara“

But Carlson also chastised Mund for redirecting focus from the incoming contestants to herself, though recent headlines have — until Mund’s letter — largely been focused on the rift between Carlson and pageant stakeholders. 

“We should be celebrating them,” Carlson said of the current contestants. “Cara, please join us in doing so.”

Miss New Jersey, Woolwich Township’s Jaime Gialloreto, is among those who have expressed support for Mund. On social media, more former titleholders criticized Carlson.

“@GretchenCarlson just because DT (Donald Trump) tweets grievances on Twitter doesn’t mean you can blast a 24-year-old who wrote a letter to her sisters,” tweeted Lauren Percy, Miss New Hampshire 2017.

“Oh Gretchen. There are no words for what you have done here,” tweeted Jennifer Vaden Barth, a former Miss North Carolina who says Carlson pushed her off the pageant board this summer. “Shocking and outrageous. This is not how leaders act.”

Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at akuperinsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.

 

This article was originally published by Nj.com. Read the original article here.

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