Nineteen former Miss America title holders have called for the entire Miss America board, including former Fox News host and current Miss America chairwoman Gretchen Carlson, to step down.
Carlson wrote a 2017 book entitled “Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back” about feminine empowerment and being allegedly harassed at Fox News.
Current Miss America Cara Mund released a five-page letter on Aug. 17 accusing Carlson of bullying and silencing her:
Let me be blunt: I strongly believe that my voice is not heard nor wanted by our current leadership; nor do they have any interest in knowing who I am and how my experiences relate to positioning the organization for the future. Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis.
Carlson denied the allegations and claimed that Mund was costing Miss America $75,000 in lost sponsorships, notes The Daily Mail:
I have never bullied or silenced you. ‘We’ve acknowledged your grievances and taken many steps to try to make your experience a good one.
Actions have consequences. Friday, as an organization, we learned that $75,000 in scholarships which would have been the first scholarship increase in years is no longer on the table as a direct result of the explosive allegations in your letter.
The impact won’t stop there. We are already seeing a negative ripple effect across the entire organization, and I am so concerned that it will dilute the experience for the next woman selected to wear the crown.
2010 Miss America Caressa Cameron-Jackson appeared on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” on Aug. 20 and called for the resignations of Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper:
I feel as though all of the leadership is complicit in this, and in order for us to move forward and to actually heal, we need to do the right thing right now, so that we can move forward and focus on who’s gonna be crowned Miss America on September 9…
And let’s be clear: just because we are asking for our chair and our CEO to step down does not mean that Miss America pageant will not happen, and I think it will send a clear message not only to our new Miss America but to the public that we are willing to do the right thing so that Miss America who is crowned on September 9 will not have to go through what Cara has gone through.