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Gretchen Carlson Tapped to Run Miss America Organization

Ex-Fox News Channel Host Gretchen Carlson. Photo by Rich Polk — Getty Images for Variety

The former leader of the Miss America organization is being replaced by one of her biggest critics. Gretchen Carlson, who publicly took the group to task for an email scandal, was named chairman of the board of directors on Monday.

Carlson, who won the Miss America title in 1989, is perhaps best known for suing Fox News over allegations that she was sexually harassed by then-CEO Roger Ailes. She will be joined on the board by a number of her fellow former Miss Americas: Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss (2012), Heather French Henry (2000) and Kate Shindle (1998). All four women were named to the board after the majority of the previous directors resigned last month.

The shakeup follows reports that many leaders, including former CEO Sam Haskell and former Chairman Lynn Weidner, exchanged emails disparaging the weight and sexual activity of former winners, including Shindle. Haskell and Weidner resigned on Dec. 23.

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Despite criticisms, the Miss America board gave a vote of confidence and a bonus to Haskell late last year, prompting Carlson to publicly object.

Carlson, in a statement, said she’s now focused on moving the organization forward and regaining the trust of women.

“Everyone has been stunned by the events of the last several days, and this has not been easy for anyone who loves this program,” reads the statement. “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.”

Carlson sued Fox News in 2016, accusing CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. Despite his denials, that suit was reportedly responsible for his departure from the network—and resulted in a $20 million payout to Carlson.

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