Isaac Chotiner: Did your feelings about sexual harassment and how to talk and think about sexual harassment change based on your own experience, or have they always been what they are now, but it felt like the right moment, because of what happened to you, to write this book?
Gretchen Carlson: It was because after working 25 years in the business and working my way up from local news to the national scene and finding out that my career was going to be ended for me, not because I wanted to, at least at that place, I determined that if I didn’t speak out about it, who would? And after that happened I started hearing from so many women and they had never, ever had a voice, and I felt this sense of duty to tell their stories. And so that was really the impetus for the book: How can I use my voice to bring more national attention to this issue?
And look where we are today. It appears to be working. We have major national, international dialogue going on right now in regards to this issue, and new revelations coming out of Hollywood and elsewhere, and I really feel like if I had anything to do with that it makes me proud.
What message do you want to get across to people who have experienced harassment about how they should both think about it and act on it?
Actually, Chapter 4 is an entire playbook. It’s my 12-point plan for women if they are going through this right now. And some men: I have also spoken to men victims. And so I really lay out—it’s like if you can put it in your back pocket and use it as a guidebook to have a sense and a plan of what to do. Some of the highlights are be sure to document what’s happening to you, be sure you call a lawyer first—it’s really important in terms of a case. And to tell two or three trusted colleagues because you want to make sure you have witnesses. Unfortunately we are still in a he-said, she-said culture. And when women come forward, they are called liars and troublemakers. And I am hoping that that’s changing now, but as long as it’s still in our environment and culture, then you have to have a plan.
But the book is so much more than that too. It’s really about being inspired to be fierce in every aspect of your life in which you feel like you are not being heard. So many people have so many other things going on in their lives that are not sexual harassment, when they are bullied in school and feel like they don’t have a voice, sexual assault on college campuses, which is why I am going to be including a college tour on my book tour. And for women when they get into the workplace. You still don’t really have a voice when you are not paid equally, when you don’t get a seat in the boardroom, or get a promotion that you deserve. I am sure that every single person reading your story or reading my book will say, “Yeah, I don’t feel so good about this in my life, and it’s going to encourage me to speak up.”
With the Weinstein case, you hear people say, “Everybody knew,” and you certainly hear about that with your former employer. For men or women who hear rumors that people are being harassed, or hear first- or secondhand accounts, what do you think they should do?
Harvey Weinstein’s apparent activity of 30 years of abuse and harassment: There is no way that could have been going on without other people knowing about it, and enablers are actually as big a part of the problem as perpetrators in many cases. And so the way I look at that case is that there were immense cover-ups and it’s all an attempt to shut up the victims. And this is happening not only in Hollywood but all across the country. This is the way for whatever reason we have chosen to deal with these types of issues: keeping it taboo. So it’s incredibly important that we try to turn enablers into allies. We need men especially to come forward and be on our team.