Carlson to head Miss America


Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson was once one of the harshest critics of the Miss America organization leadership. Now Carlson is one of those leaders, having been named chairman of the Miss America board of directors.

The shakeup that precipitated this surprising change included the firing of former CEO Sam Haskell and Chairman Lynn Weidner. That move was made after a Huffington Post report said Haskell and Weidner made disparaging remarks about former pageant winners in emails. These comments including negative comments about previous winners’ weights and sexual activity.

Carlson Doesn’t Like the Companies Culture

Carlson, who was crowned Miss America in 1989, said those firings were not enough to change the culture of the organization. Speaking on Twitter, Carlson said, “The only solution that will save Miss America is the resignation of all board members.” Carlson said she was “appalled” by the emails, and criticized the board for offering Haskell a performance bonus.

Carlson’s comments were specific and revealed disgust at the actions of the board as well as the potential consequences of those actions on the Miss America organization. In a series of follow up tweets, Carlson wrote:

“The decision by Miss American board is unacceptable. In the wake of inexcusable comments by Sam Haskell and his cohorts, Miss America is facing the real possibility of losing a TV network, charitable partners, a venue, host city, and sponsors… This new tactic pays lip service to groups of stakeholders while guaranteeing that the majority of the current board will stay on and be able to choose the replacements for those who have resigned…”

Carlon’s Leadership Experience

Apparently, Miss America agreed, bringing Carlson on board to right the ship. In a statement after the hiring, Carlson said her leadership would make things right while working to find and hire new board members, as well as a new management group.

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

As part of that initiative, Carlson will be joined on the board by three other former Miss America winners: Heather French Henry, Kate Shindle, and Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss. In a further twist, the Huffington Post named Shindle as one of the former winners mentioned in the disparaging emails. All things considered, if Miss America wants to reframe its image, this seems like a good start.

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