WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The Miss America pageant’s CEO resigned on Saturday after dozens of former beauty queens demanded he step down over leaked internal emails that contained misogynistic, fat- and slut-shaming language.
“This afternoon, the Board of Directors of the Miss America Organization accepted the resignation of Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sam Haskell, effective immediately,” interim chairman of the board Dan Meyers said in a statement.
HuffPost published leaked emails two days before that included a vulgarity to refer to past winners, former winners being routinely maligned, and the shaming of one over her weight and sex life, with Haskell calling her “a piece of trash.”
Haskell and been suspended the previous day by the organization, which said it would conduct an “in-depth investigation into alleged inappropriate communications and the nature in which they were obtained.”
“The Board of Directors also accepted the resignation of Chairman Lynn Weidner,” according to the statement from Meyers, which said she would stay on for up to 90 days to “facilitate a smooth transition.”
Dozens of former Miss Americas, including an 87-year-old crowned in 1948 and a former Fox News host, had signed an open letter demanding the resignations of the organization’s CEO, president and board chair.
“We stand firmly against harassment, bullying and shaming — especially of women — through the use of derogatory terms meant to belittle and demean,” HuffPost quoted the letter as saying.
“As Miss Americas, we strongly reject the mischaracterizations of us both collectively and individually. We also reject the ongoing efforts to divide our sisterhood and the attempts to pit us against one another.”
Signatories included Gretchen Carlson, who settled a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2016 against then Fox News boss Roger Ailes for a reported $20 million, which precipitated his departure from the network.
© Agence France-Presse