In news we’d find shocking if we still gave half a shit about Miss America, the CEO of the Miss America Organization, Sam Haskell, is in trouble for making cruel, sexist remarks about Miss Americas (Misses America?) past and present. The 62-year-old former talent agent, whose hubris is oversized compared to his cultural relevance, is the subject of an article published in The Huffington Post yesterday evening, which includes an email in which Haskell LOLs at Miss America head writer Lewis Friedman suggesting that “Forever Miss Americas” be changed to “Cunts Miss Americas,” which doesn’t even make any sense. (Note to Mr. Friedman: The adjective form of that word is “cunty.”)
Anyway, the piece goes on at length describing the many ways in which Haskell has made clear his contempt for women over the years, which, again, would be shocking if he didn’t run a fucking beauty contest. He seems to have saved a special ire for former Miss America winners like Kate Shindle, upon whom Friedman wished death in a 2014 email, Gretchen Carlson (yes, that Gretchen Carlson), and Mallory Hagan, who Haskell repeatedly mocked for her weight gain after she won the crown in 2013. Haskell also spread rumors about Hagan’s sex life to staff, prompting this “joke” from Friedman: “Ps. Are we four the only ones not to have fucked Mallory?”
Earlier this year, Miss America employee Brent Adams and former board member Regina Hopper approached Dick Clark Productions, which bankrolls the Miss America telecast, with the emails included in the article. Dick Clark Productions then sent a letter to the Miss America board about it, but no action was taken, save a cease and desist order sent to Adams. In light of that, Dick Clark Productions severed its relationship with Miss America months ago, an event that nobody really noticed at the time because, seriously—Miss America has not been a pop-cultural phenomenon of any note in decades.
For her part, Hagan tells Today she feels vindicated by HuffPo’s investigation, saying, “for the longest time, I’ve tried to explain to people around me that this is happening ... to have the ability to look on paper and say, ‘See, I told you’ ... I felt validated in my feelings for the last couple of years.” Carlson released a statement shortly after the article was published, saying, in part, “as I’ve learned, harassment and shaming of women is never acceptable and should never be tolerated. Every MAO executive and board member who engaged in such crude behavior and signed off on it like it was no big deal should resign immediately.”
Forty-nine former Miss Americas have also signed an open letter calling on the organization’s top leadership to resign, which may be wishful thinking given that Haskell makes $500,000 a year to send misogynist jokes on his phone and appears to have the full protection of the Miss America board. Of course, once Dick Clark Productions stops airing Miss America on TV, this will all be a moot point anyway.