Miss America pageant Chairwoman Gretchen Carlson is not backing down amid a growing outcry for her to resign.
Despite a lengthy rebuttal posted by Carlson on Twitter Sunday, denying accusations by reigning Miss America Cara Mund of bullying, others have now joined the protest demanding the chairwoman step down.
Former Miss Americas Suzette Charles, Heather Whitestone and Caress Cameron-Jackson have joined others who have reportedly signed a petition demanding the organization’s entire board resign after Mund’s letter published last week alleging that she was bullied and silenced by the pageant’s current leadership, which includes Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper.
“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,” Mund wrote in a scathing five-page letter. “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.”
Former winners are speaking out on behalf of Mund who reportedly is not currently allowed by the Miss America organization to do interviews.
“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,” Cameron-Jackson told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday.
FULL INTERVIEW: “It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 20, 2018
Carlson, a former Miss America and Fox News host shared that she was “surprised and saddened” by Mund’s accusations, responding in a statement on Sunday that at times addressed the reigning Miss America directly.
“I also want to be clear that I have never bullied or silenced you,” Carlson wrote, adding that the controversy has now cost the nonprofit organization $75,000 in scholarships.
The group is “very much disappointed that as a sister she sort of forgot where she came from,” Charles told “Inside Edition” on Monday. She also spoke out on the “Today” show, telling Megyn Kelly that Carlson “has been bullying for a long time.”
— Megyn Kelly TODAY (@MegynTODAY) August 20, 2018
“Actually she’s bullied my sister here, Heather Whitestone,” Charles said. “This person has taken no responsibility for the way she’s treated our current Miss America.”
Carlson wanting “to be the face of the Miss America Organization” is part of the problem, according to Whitestone. Carlson, who was named chair of the pageant’s board of directors following the resignation of its previous chairman amid an email scandal, announced in June that there would be no more swimsuit competition as part of the event.
Jennifer Vaden Barth, Miss North Carolina in 1991, was among many who criticized Carlson’s response to Mund.
Oh Gretchen. There are no words for what you have done here. Shocking and outrageous. This is not how leaders act.
— Jennifer Vaden Barth (@jvadenbarth) August 20, 2018
Kendall Morris, who was Miss Texas in 2011, called attention to what was missing in Carlson’s statement.
-27 state organizations
-19 former Miss Americas
All calling for Gretchen Carlson’s resignation.
This is her response— notice the absence of the word sorry. #standwithCara https://t.co/YJ9ltkp6DZ
— Kendall Morris (@KendallMorrisTV) August 20, 2018
Many others, including former Miss America contestants, spoke out on Twitter as well, using the hashtag #StandWithCara.
— Taylor Lance (@tlance1017) August 17, 2018
Effective immediately I am retracting all involvement with the Miss America system. This includes sponsorships and appearances. It’s time someone has the balls that #standwithcara has. I don’t care about the financial repercussions.
It’s about doing what’s right.
— Justin Bowers (@UpstateFitness) August 17, 2018
This whole year I felt like Cara Mund vanished as Miss America and now I know why. Shame on the Miss America Organization for their disgraceful bullying. How dare they belittle a woman when they falsely claim to be about empowering women. Hypocritical. #StandWithCara
— Capie (@CapieChat) August 18, 2018
Talk about Explosive! How many more MAO insiders do you need to hear from in order to make up your mind?
— Pageant Junkies (@PageantJunkies) August 20, 2018
May I ask when/why it’s okay for one woman to speak her truth, but why another woman is being reprimanded for not “keeping it in the family” when she shares hers? #StandWithCara
— Amanda Debus (@RealADebus) August 18, 2018
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