The Miss America Organization used to be considered, in terms of wholesomeness, on a par with Girl Scout cookies and county fairs. Throw that concept to the breeze. The CEO of the organization and a few other key people were fired or resigned today in the wake of emails being published which mocked and disparaged various Miss Americas, including former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, even going so far as to refer to the women by the “c-word.” Huffington Post:
In May 2014, [CEO Sam] Haskell forwarded one of [Board member] Haddad’s emails to a Miss America executive. In it, Haddad had referred to some former Miss Americas as a “pile of malcontents and has beens who blame the program for not getting them where they think they can go.”
She added, “80% of the winners do not have the class, smarts and model for success.”
The decision was made swiftly to clean house.
The resignations came after 49 former Miss America winners signed a petition asking for Haskell to step down after the publication Friday by HuffPost of emails sent between Haskell and organization staffers and board members that included sexist, insulting comments about former Miss Americas and laid bare deep dysfunction within the organization.
Much of the HuffPost report focused on Haskell’s ire with the 2013 Miss America, Mallory Hagan. The article included emails in which Haskell makes insulting remarks about Hagan’s body and sexual history. The story also includes emails attacking former winners Kate Shindle and Gretchen Carlson, the Fox News host who sued network chairman Roger Ailes over sexual harassment. According to the report, a key production partner, Dick Clark Productions, ended a deal with Miss America after reviewing the offensive emails.
Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson was particularly disliked and emails were found which purported to drive her “infuckingsane.” Washington Post:
Carlson responded to HuffPost on Thursday, “As a proud former Miss America and former member of the Board of the Miss America Organization, I am shocked and deeply saddened by the disgusting statements about women attributed to the leadership of the MAO. No woman should be demeaned with such vulgar slurs. As I’ve learned, harassment and shaming of women is never acceptable and should never be tolerated. Every MAO executive and board member who engaged in such crude behavior and signed off on it like it was no big deal should resign immediately. The Miss America Organization, which is tasked to uphold an almost 100 year old tradition of female empowerment and scholarship, deserves better. I hope all former Miss Americas, state and local titleholders and volunteers will join me in a collective effort to fight for the dignity of this great institution.”
2017 is going to enter the history books as a watershed year for womens’ rights.