Why Gretchen Carlson Chose The College Admission Scandal for Her Documentary | In Studio

Why Gretchen Carlson Chose The College Admission Scandal for Her Documentary | In Studio

October 20, 2019 5 By Stanley Isaacs


– Hi, I’m Gretchen Carlson, and I’m In Studio with
The Hollywood Reporter. (upbeat music) – Gretchen, thank you
so much for coming in. This is so exciting to have you here. We have a lot of ground to cover. There’s a lot going on with you these days.
– I know – You have a new special on Lifetime about the college admissions scandal. So, you know, there are
so many big headlines out there in the world, and I know that your documentary series goes behind the headlines. Why did you choose the
college admissions scandal? – Because it’s one of the
biggest stories that’s happening in America right now over
the last several months. I think this documentary
is one of the first to really go beyond the headlines and tell people the real story. And it’s a fascinating topic, and we’re gonna be able to
expose so much for viewers. It’s gonna help parents out there who are about to go through this process, but it’s also going to
make people angry, I think, about how the system has
allegedly been rigged, and it’s really about the
haves and the have-nots, and I think that, you
know, for a long time, people have been suspect
of the admissions process, and we’re really gonna
break it down for them and tell them probably what
they were suspecting all along. One of the exclusive interviews that we have in the documentary is actually a mom who filed
a $500 billion lawsuit against all the defendants
in the admissions scandal. Her claim is that she’s
filing on behalf of, all of the students across
America and the world who maybe didn’t get into college, because these slots were
being given away illegally. And she says she’s not doing it for her own personal gain of
money but for all of these kids that we may never know why
they didn’t get into college. I mean, the interesting thing is that colleges don’t have to tell you, when they deny you, what
the reason is, right? So was it because they were giving away these slots illegally,
or is it just simply because they have too many applicants? So there’s a lot of unknown in there, but I think that hearing
from this mom exclusively, she trusted me to tell her
story for the first time, and I’m really proud of that. We also talked to a really amazing swimmer who had an encounter with Rick Singer who was the mastermind of
this admissions scandal, and quite honestly, his parents were working three, four jobs, and they couldn’t afford to
sign up for the tutoring. And we interviewed them for
the first time exclusively, and they, you know, it’s
like a double-edged sword. They didn’t have the
money to do the tutoring, so they’re grateful now
because of the scandal that they didn’t get involved. But at the same time, their
son was never recruited to be a swimmer in college. So they have many question
marks in the back of their minds about, well, why not? Is it because we didn’t
go with Rick Singer? – And, by the way, you should be proud of the entire special, I watched it, and it was, for somebody like me, I paid attention to so
many of the headlines and obviously the celebrity of it all, but going deeper in the
special really brought to light so many things that I had
missed just paying attention to sort of like, the
sensational aspect of it all. I mean, you really take a closer
look at who Rick Singer is, which I found really informative. Tell me what was most surprising
to you about this man? – Well, how, you know, we actually focused on somebody saying
positive things about him. – That’s true, yeah.
– Right? – I was surprised about that.
– Because it was very balanced and it was important to us to show how people can turn on a dime. And I think a lot of these parents fall into the same category. Listen, as a parent of two
teenaged children myself, we would do anything for our children. I think that’s the prevailing
thought process out there. But like Rick Singer
and like these parents, there’s a fine line between
doing anything for your children and crossing over that line
and doing something illegal. And when that happens,
there are consequences. And we’re seeing that play out right now. I mean, look at these
sentencings that are coming down for the people who agreed,
from very early on, to plead guilty and be
contrite and apologize, they’re still going to jail. And so there are
consequences in our nation when you break the law. And I think we also
showcase how Rick Singer sort of followed that same path of being a good person, a
basketball coach at a school, and then what switched in him to suddenly go to the dark side? Something, and then, you
know, we could argue money. That would probably the
prevailing thought process because he allegedly earned
$25 million in the process. – Wow. Talk to me about what
you think should happen to universities and
college admission process in the wake of this. – Two important points, we talked to a college
admissions counselor who used to be head of
admissions at a major university. Now she’s on the other
side counseling parents, and she says that there’s no
way that these institutions did not know that this was going on. That’s the first thing. So, are we gonna be hearing about more indictments down the road? I would speculate yes. Number two, there are
just a lot of loopholes that need to be closed that were, just made it rife for
this to be able to happen. And the biggest one that we
uncovered was the idea that, when you’re recruited for a sport, where they’re not actually giving you a financial scholarship, you don’t have to play that
sport when you get to college. And I think that is an unknown to a lot of Americans out there. They would assume that if
you’re recruited for sailing or for squash or for crew,
that you’re actually going to play that sport when you get there. Well, that’s not the case. So that to me is this huge
loophole that you can drive a huge truck through and
one of the main things that Rick Singer attached himself to, to make this scandal work. – One of the great things
about having you here today is, you know, it’s always
great to talk to somebody about a big new project or
about an interesting special or film or something, but the fact that you’re
sitting here today talking about something that
you’re doing and working on is such a great example for
women who have spoken out about sexual harassment or sexual misconduct in the workplace, that you can still have a career. I know that that’s been something that you’ve been so passionate
about, and you’re a rare case because that’s not the
case for so many women. So talk to me about how it
feels to still be working in the face of what you’ve gone through or in the wake of what you’ve gone through and what other women should take from seeing you continue to work? – Well, thank you so much
for asking that question because that’s really what this
whole movement is all about. You know, when I jumped
off the cliff by myself three years ago, I didn’t
know that there would be any safety net below, but
really it was the fact that there were all these other women who had a shared experience
with me that I didn’t know about who started reaching out to me
and really buoyed my spirits. So then it was very important
to me, I realized from them, that most of them never went back to work
– Wow after they came forward. And that to me was outrageous, and so I was determined
that I was gonna go back to what’s been my passion
for the last 25 years, which is television news. And I have then become a beacon of hope for all of these other women. That if Gretchen Carlson could
do this kind of, you know, major case, and go back to
work in her chosen profession, then these women at home
are saying to themselves, “Maybe I can too.”
– Wow And listen, over the last three years, I have gained great perspective. I have emerged from my lawsuit stronger and more empathetic to the
stories that I’ve heard and the stories that I
wanna continue to cover, and there are tons of
opportunities for me out there in television right now
with the changing landscape every day of what TV actually
is, and I’m just grateful that I’m gonna probably take advantage of those opportunities
and continue my career. – What do you wanna do
for the next chapter or the next phase of your career? Because you have been also
sort of a master of reinvention throughout your entire career,
starting as a violin prodigy and then becoming Miss
America and then, you know, becoming one of the
faces of television news. – So
– Exactly, and it wasn’t, like I was thinking to myself
throughout that process that one day it’s gonna say on my resume, one of the major poster
children for sexual harassment in the workplace.
– I mean, right. But you know, if there’s
been one constant in my life, it’s that I have a fire
in my belly to work, and whether that’s philanthropically, which I have done over
the last three years and frankly for my entire life, whether that’s speaking up for women, which I’ve done my whole
life and continue to do, whether that’s changing laws on the hill, which I’ve been fighting for,
for the last three years, or whether it’s me,
myself going back to work, that fire in my belly never leaves me. So yes, I have a passion to sit
behind the anchor desk again whether it’s cable news or at
a network or to do a talk show or to bring the country
together as we approach a very important election in 2020. As a unifying force, you know,
I have a tremendous amount still to offer in my
career that I’ve worked so hard to attain. – And what news are you watching? ’cause I read something
that you’re not watching Fox News
– Are you shocked? – I mean, I’m not shocked, No.
– (laughs) Yeah. – But, but there is a
lot of news out there. So what what are you
watching on a daily basis? – You know, it’s been
really rewarding for me to be able to watch a lot of everything. – Yeah. – You know, where I finally
had a little bit of time to sit back and watch all of my colleagues and I’m really proud of all of them. I mean, you as well, you
know, we all work really hard every day and I never really had a chance to sit back and really honor that. And so for example, I’m
rooting for Norah O’Donnell, who’s, you know, back as a woman
doing the CBS Evening News, I’m rooting for Jake Tapper
who participated in my book “Be Fierce,” as a feminist, dad and man. And I really just gained
so much more perspective from being able to see
a lot of everything. What I recommend to people
in this hyperpartisan time that we live in, unfortunately,
is that you watch something at least one-our a week
that you don’t agree with. – Wow. – Because then maybe there’s
a way to bring us together and find solutions in our country, instead of just staying in our lanes, and never looking outside of it and watching only what we want to hear. – That’s such good advice and something that I’m gonna now do. – Okay, good. Report back to me and what you think.
– I will, I will And I wanna go back to
something you said though, too, because you have been
up on the hill fighting ’cause it didn’t matter
how long I prepared or how many questions I wrote down, there’s so much you still can talk about. About your own personal
journey and your fighting so that that’s not the case for women and they have their day in
court and they’re not stuck in these forced arbitration. So talk to me about what that path has been like for you? – Yeah, thank you for the question. So when I usually talk about arbitration, I get like this glazed
over look from people in the audience, because unfortunately, we don’t really know what that means. So simplistically, it means
taking the muzzle off of women taking the handcuffs
off to give them a voice if they happen to face
harassment in the workplace. Simply put, tons of
companies now make you sign employment contracts that
have these arbitration clauses that mean if you do have a dispute, you have to go to arbitration
and not an open court. And the problem with arbitration, is that it’s a secret chamber. So it’s a way where companies
have been able to shield harassment cases from becoming
public quite honestly, over the last 20 years. They just show them all to arbitration, and the woman goes there maybe gets a small little settlement
never works again, and the worst part about
it is that the perpetrator gets to stay on the job
because nobody knows about it. And so that promulgates this harassing to continue in that environment. Wouldn’t it be great
if my bill would pass, and women would be able
to stand up and speak up and be able to tell their
stories, and quite honestly, it would probably stop the perpetrators from doing the harassment if they knew the woman had a voice. So I believe that passing this into law is the final part of the
tipping point in our society, to really eradicate this
problem from the workplace. – Wow
– It’s really important, and I’m gonna share with you, that it’s really moving
quickly now on the hill, and am very optimistic that something good is gonna come about this
before the end of the year. – Wow, that’s good. And then it’s also so important
to you because your story is being told, so many people
have have caught Naomi Watts’s interpretation of your
story and the loudest voice on Showtime and then, you know, here comes another Oscar
winner Nicole Kidman doing the same thing. I know you you’ve met Naomi,
but have you met Nicole or had any conversations,
you’re not allowed to, right? – No.
– No – You know, it’s really
strange and frustrating because of my NDA, the non-disclosure. I can’t participate in
any of these projects. And sometimes people don’t
understand that or know that, but again, it’s why I’m working so hard on the hill to change that. I had a chance to meet Naomi
after she was done filming the loudest voice, when
I was at the premiere. And what I was really touched by, was her Instagram post
after that, where, you know, she really said that
playing me as a character was one of the highlights of her career
– Oh, Wow – And that she was just, you know, shouting from the mountaintops, my bravery and I’ll never forget that,
because how surreal is it to have Naomi and Nicole
playing little Gretchen Carlson from a Anoka Minnesota, right?
– (laughs) – It’s just, it’s very
surreal and I’m very honored because I think it just
continues the dialogue of this issue, which is
essential to fixing it and if it helps one other
woman to get the fact that, courage is contagious,
and watch these projects and get the courage to come forward, then these projects are
extremely beneficial even if I can’t participate in them. – Wow, yeah, that’s well said. And it’s inescapable, too. I mean, it’s one thing
to see the headlines like we’re seeing today with Matt Lauer, the latest headlines
from Ronan Farrow’s book, but then to forget that there’s a woman behind those stories, or
there’s multiple women behind this story. So, but I did wanna ask you
about today’s headlines. It’s just is another set of
allegations that he’s facing and it brings the glare back
to like the news business and the media business
and what’s really going on behind the scenes? How pervasive do you think it is? And what’s your take on this
latest wave with Matt Lauer? – Well, first of all, that’s
a lot of emotions for me every time that you see a
big story like this break, because it brings, it brings it back to me and the courage that it
took to jump off the cliff before we were, in what I like to call this cultural revolution where it’s safer for women to come forward because we’re actually
being believed, you know. So there’s a ton of emotions for me and the first thought I
have is not necessarily about Matt Lauer, but about the victim. And I just wanna let her
know that she’s not alone, and that there are thousands
of women all across the country who are, are here and men to
lift her up and support her and make her feel like she’s not alone, because I know how difficult
it was for her to decide to put a name and face on this. And then also, I just like
to remind people that, sexual harassment is not
only happening in Hollywood, and with famous TV news people. This is an epidemic that’s
happening to tons of people across our country in every
profession, teachers, lawyers, members of our military,
I had an airline mechanic reach out to me, Wall
Street bankers, doctors, police officers, Fire
Chiefs, it’s everywhere. And that’s really why I’ve continued to do all the work that I’m doing. It’s not for me anymore, it’s
for all of these other Women who never had a voice, and
it’s also for my children and for other people’s children, because we need to get this
message to the young people to help stop the process. And I’m really hopeful,
and when I go speak across college campuses,
that I see as many young men in the audience’s wanting
to come and hear me speak as I do women, and that
gives me great hope. – Wow, we’re running out of time, but I did wanna ask you too,
you’ve also been spreading the message through your books. It feels like there’s a trilogy here, I don’t know.
– (laughs) – There’s two already,
there’s two already. Are you planning a third? Or is that of interest to you? – You know, writing books
are, actually writing books is the easy part promoting
the books, (laughs) – is the hard part.
– is the hard part. The industry’s just
changed so dramatically over the last couple of years, but yes, I probably will be writing
another book but not tomorrow. (laughs)
– Not tomorrow, we gotta get back on TV first, – And pass my bill
– And pass your bill, as you are this weekend. So check out Gretchen Carlson’s
new special on lifetime October 12 about the
college admissions scandal. Thank you so much for tuning
in and we’ll see you next time.