Last night, a Huffington Post article exposed several emails between executives and employees of the Miss America Organization containing derogatory and inappropriate remarks regarding some of the former Miss America titleholders, including Mallory Hagan, Kate Shindle and Gretchen Carlson. (Read: How to Manage Pageant People Who Drain Your Energy)
About the emails
A Huffington Post article written by Yashar Ali revealed screenshots of emails spanning three years, 2013 to 2015, between higher-ups in the Miss America Organization. The emails include several Miss America Organization board members, a telecast writer, the Chief Executive Officer, and the President making or condoning sexually-charged, fat-shaming and derogatory remarks about former Miss Americas, including Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, Miss America 1998 Kate Shindle, and Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson. (Read: 9 Pageant Don’ts for Directors)
One email between Lewis Friedman, a telecast writer for the Miss America Organization, and Sam Haskell, Miss America Organization CEO, refers to the former Miss Americas as “c***s.” While all the emails display a general distaste for the former titleholders, it seems as though Hagan, Shindle and Carlson have caught particular backlash from the organization’s top executives.
One email written by Friedman was sent to Haskell offering his condolences on the passing of Mary Ann Mobley, Miss America 1959. While the contents of the email seemed to be genuine condolences, the subject of the email read “It should have been Kate Shindle.” Haskell replied back to the email expressing that although he was sad, Friedman made him laugh.
Another email seemed to target Carlson after she declined to speak out in defense of Haskell and the Miss America Organization after Shindle had published a book questioning the organization’s leadership. When Carlson declined to express her support, Miss America board member Tammy Haddad called Carlson, who was also a board member, a “snake.” Haddad did comment via email about the Huffington Post article and said that she has gratitude and regard for Carlson. After Carlson declined to voice support, Haskell did not feature her in the telecast and Carlson resigned her position on the board of directors.
By far, the biggest target of the email chains was Hagan. Emails were sent regarding Hagan’s sexual history and her weight. One email from Friedman to Haskell was particularly egregious. (Read: How to be Comfortable with YOUR Body)
“Mallory’s preparing for her new career … as a blimp in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade As she continues to destroy her own credibility, her voice will attract less and less notice while she continues her descent to an unhappy pathetic footnote,” Friedman wrote in the email.
This email was just one of many emails sent back and forth between Friedman and Haskell discussing Hagan. Another email implied that the “coaching ban” was implemented to harm Hagan’s coaching business. (Read: What To Do When You Don’t Get Along With Your Pageant Director)
Despite all of the emails in the article, author Yashar Ali writes that the board still has “full confidence” in the leadership of the Miss America Organization.
About a former Miss America’s response
After hearing of the HuffPost article, a former Miss America mentioned in the emails responded to the content of those emails.
“Today, I read that a member of the production team wished I were dead, and that Executive Chairman and CEO Sam Haskell laughed about it,” Shindle wrote in a tweet. “I read that Haskell . . . just yesterday retweeted a quote which reads, ‘no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted’ thinks that it’s ‘perfect’ to refer to the women of this program as ‘c***s.’ It makes me physically ill. . . I still believe that Miss America has relevance and purpose in 2017 and beyond. But in order to achieve that purpose, the entire Board of Directors must immediately resign, including and especially Sam Haskell.”
Hagan has responded via an Instagram story and revealed that she filmed a TODAY show episode that will be premiering this morning at 7 a.m. EST.
“Seeing things in writing about yourself that simply aren’t true, even though you knew they were being said, is pretty painful,” Hagan said tearfully in an Instagram story. “So seeing this unfold has been both validating and very hard. And it feels like it’s been a long time coming.”
Pageant Planet’s news team also reached out to Hagan for comment on how she would like to see the Miss America Organization resolve this issue.
“I would like to see the Miss America Organization Board of Directors step down,” Hagan responded. “It’s time for people who believe in and embody the mission of the Miss America Organization to be at the helm.”
Carlson has also retweeted comments on the situation and added her own commentary.
“As a proud former Miss America and former member of the Board of the Miss America Organization, I am shocked and deeply saddened by the disgusting statements about women attributed to the leadership of the MAO,” Carlson tweeted. “No woman should be demeaned with such vulgar slurs. #ResignNow”
About the consequences
Having these emails in hand, a former Miss America board member, Regina Hopper, and former employee of Haskell, Brent Adams, went to Dick Clark Productions. The company thanked the duo for providing the email and discussed the emails with the Board of Directors. A month later, Hopper received a cease and desist letter from the Miss America Organization lawyers.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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