Under the context of using vulgar language to given description about former Miss America contestants via email, the organization’s CEO Sam Haskell has been suspended while an investigation takes place.

But the CEO went down swinging Friday, giving fighting words about the context of emails made public that fat and slut-shamed some of the women involved in Miss America.

“Much of what was reported is dishonest, deceptive, and despicable,” wrote Haskell, in a statement disseminated by the Miss America Organization. “The material is based on private emails that were stolen three years ago by ex-employees. The story is so unkind and untrue, and hurts me, my family, and the stewardship of this non-profit.”

Haskell went on to explain his state of mind when making fun of the weight gain of former Miss America Mallory Hagan and jokingly wished Miss America Kate Shindle were dead.

“I was under stress from a full year of attacks by two Miss Americas, and while I don’t ever want to offer an excuse, I do want to offer context,” says Haskell. “This was not the CEO of an Organization laughing at inappropriate jokes and speaking about a former Miss America in email conversations.  This was a father whose family was being attacked, and a man whose character was being targeted daily, which impaired my judgment when responding to the inappropriate emails sent to me about them.  For that, I deeply apologize.  ”

Hagan, one of the pageant winners targeted in emails exchanged by Haskell, and board members, says she feels validated after the Huffington Post published the offensive messages.

Hagan, who won the crown in the year 2013, shared her reaction with NBC’s TodayShow Friday.

“When I first read the emails in the article, I wasn’t shocked but I was validated,” she explained. “For the longest time, I’d try to explain to people around me this is happening, or these things are being said. And (now I) have the ability to look on paper and say, ‘See, I told you.'”

Earlier Friday the Miss America Organization told USA TODAY the board of directors was  “immediately making an investigative committee and retaining independent legal counsel to have a full investigation of the matter.” The statement, which can be read in its entirety below, also noted the emails were obtained through wrong means and that “MAO does not condone the use of inappropriate language.”

The Internal emails show the bad language Haskell used to describe Hagan, describing her as “fat and gross” in one note.

In another exchange from August 2014, Haskell received an email that said Hagan’s hairdresser had been writing on Hagan’s sex life, as well as her recent weight gain.

Haskell forwarded the email to Miss America telecast lead writer Lewis Friedman and noted, “Not a single day passes that I am not told some horrible story about Mallory.”

Friedman replied, “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 concluded the email with, “P.S. Are we four the only ones not to have (slept with) Mallory?”

Haskell explained, “It appears we are the only ones!”

The emails also suggest Haskell smeared Hagan and her pageant-coaching business after he became convinced she was personally maligning him.

Soon afterward, Hagan’s name was added to a list of coaches that Miss America contestants were not allowed to use, and “soon after, Hagan’s lucrative coaching business fell apart,” according to the Huffington Post story.


Other former Miss Americas have also replied to insulting comments made about them in the emails.


Haskell and a top employee allegedly joked about wishing Shindle (who was crowned in 1998) were dead in one email, according to the Huffington Post story.

“I almost don’t have the words to respond,” Shindle said in a statement posted to Twitter, which called for the immediate resignation of the entire board of directors, especially Haskell. “Only then can the women of Miss America reclaim its rich history and catalyze what is clearly a necessary evolution.”

The emails also targeted 1989 winner and onetime board member Gretchen Carlson, who won a harassment suit against Fox News chief Roger Ailes, when she denied to join in on attacks against other former Miss Americas who were sensitive of the organization.

According to the Huffington Post story, Haskell praised media consultant Tammy Haddad for a devising a “brilliant” plan that would drive Carlson “(insane).” (Haddad also called Carlson a “snake” in the email thread.)

As a proud former Miss America and former member of the Board of the Miss America Organization, I am shocked and deeply hurt by the cheap statements about women attributed to the leadership of the MAO. No woman should be demeaned with such vulgar slurs,” Carlson said in a Twitter statement Friday, accompanied by the hashtag #ResignNow.

In reply to the story, Dick Clark Productions, producer of the live telecast, has cut ties with the Miss America Organization because of the rude correspondence.

The three women were joined by Don Guardian, the outgoing Republican mayor of Atlantic City, N.J., the longtime home of the pageant. He told the Associated Press everyone involved should resign.

“My mistake is a mistake of words,” said Haskell in his statement late Friday. “I have the utmost respect for the women of this program and contestants at every level.  It breaks my heart for anyone to think otherwise.”

In its statement to media, The Miss America Organization confirmed that they know the “inappropriate language in private email communications” for several months and that at the time that he sent some of the messages, “Mr. Haskell was under unreasonable distress resulting from intense attacks on his family from disgruntled stakeholders.”




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