A scathing letter by reigning Miss America has prompted a direct reply from the chairwoman of the organization’s board of directors, Gretchen Carlson.
The former Miss America and Fox News host shared that she was “surprised and saddened” by the accusations made by Miss America Cara Mund, which she blamed for costing the organization $75,000 in scholarships.
Mund wrote in a letter published last week that she was bullied and silenced by the pageant’s current leadership, which includes Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper.
“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,” Mund wrote. “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. After a while, the patterns have clearly emerged, and the sheer accumulation of the disrespect, passive-aggressive behavior, belittlement, and outright exclusion has taken a serious toll.”
Carlson called out Mund in a series of tweets on Sunday, addressing the former Miss North Dakota for not reaching out directly.
Please see my statement in full below pic.twitter.com/rvmee4es7g
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) August 20, 2018
“Cara, let me be clear: We, as an organization, are very proud of you and all you have accomplished. You are smart, caring and ambitious,” Carlson wrote. “As a Brown graduate, you aspire to go to law school and one day run for Governor in your home state of North Dakota. You embody the mission of Miss America.”
She also denied claims made by Mund that she was bullied and silenced.
“I also want to be clear that I have never bullied or silenced you,” Carlson wrote. “In fact, I have acknowledged to you and your parents many times that the organization understands the frustrations of serving during such a change-filled and stressful year. It surely was not what you had expected. We’ve acknowledged your grievances, and taken many steps to try to make your experience a good one. You are at the epicenter of a very historic moment for women. Over the past two years, our country has undergone a seismic shift in how professional women are depicted and treated.”
Carlson noted that, since Mind’s accusations became public, the organization has suffered a blow and just three weeks before the crowning of the next Miss America.
“Actions have consequences,” she wrote. “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.”
Carlson, who was named chair of the pageant’s board of directors following the resignation of its previous chairman amid an email scandal, hoped Mund would join her and the organization in celebrating “the amazing 51 candidates who have chosen to compete for the job of Miss America.”
The upcoming event, to be held in Atlantic City, N.J., will be missing one long-time tradition as Carlson announced in June that there would be no more swimsuit competition as part of the event.
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