The Miss America Pageant is still a few weeks away, but the real show to watch is unfolding right now. The current Miss America, Cara Mund, has released a letter claiming that she was bullied by the leadership of the Miss America Organization, including its current chair, Gretchen Carlson.
In the letter, released publicly last week, Mund called out Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper for attempting to derail her ability to perform her duties as reigning Miss America.
“Let me be blunt, I strongly believe that my voice is not heard nor wanted by our current leadership; nor do they have any interest in knowing who I am and how my experiences relate to positioning this organization for the future,” Mund wrote. “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.”
She elaborated on her complaints against Miss America and its leadership during an interview with “Good Morning America.”
“I wrote this letter to my sisters,” she told “GMA.” “I knew I had to stand up, not just for me but for all the volunteers and girls.”
Mund told “GMA” that she had attempted to reach out to pageant leadership with her concerns, and even to the Board of Directors early in the summer, but her complaints were ignored. Mund ultimately felt that making a public statement was her only option to reveal the truth.
Previous Miss America pageant winners have been quick to show support for Mund. Almost 20 former winners of the pageant have called for the resignation of Gretchen Carlson in the wake of Mund’s allegations.
“We all chose [Carlson] to take over the leadership position,” Suzette Charles, 1984’s Miss America winner told “Inside Edition.” “We are very much disappointed that as a sister she sorta forgot where she came from.”
The Miss America Organization has been relatively silent on the issue, but did release a statement addressing the issue.
“It is disappointing that she chose to air her grievances publicly, not privately. Her letter contains mischaracterizations and many unfounded accusations,” the Miss America Organization said.
Carlson also released a lengthy statement on her Twitter account, both addressing the public and Mund directly.
Please see my statement in full below pic.twitter.com/rvmee4es7g
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) August 20, 2018
“I have never bullied or silenced you,” Carlson wrote. “We’ve acknowledged your grievances and taken many steps to try to make your experience a good one.”
Carlson has also expressed concern that Mund’s comments will negatively impact the upcoming Miss America 2018.
“We are already seeing a negative ripple effect across the entire organization, and I am so concerned that it will dilute the experience for the next woman selected to wear the crown,” Carlson said.
Though none of the organization’s leadership has expressed any intent of stepping down in the wake of Mund’s allegations, pressure might cause a serious shift in who controls the pageant. Only time will tell.