Gretchen Carlson on Dealing with Sexual Harassment on the Job

Former Fox News anchor says she was sexually harassed shortly after becoming Miss American and during her journalistic career.
7:05 | 11/19/16

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Transcript for Gretchen Carlson on Dealing with Sexual Harassment on the Job
After months caught up in a media firestorm, Gretchen Carlson now finally speaking out using her story and her stature in the hopes of helping other women suffering in the face of sexual harassment. Here's ABC's Amy robach. This one says, I want to praise and commend you for your bravery and strength for coming forward and paving the way for other women -- who are experiencing a horrible situation. Reporter: Gretchen Carlson reading just a small sampling of the letters she's received since becoming cast unwittingly in the role of warrior for women against workplace sexual harassment. You've become a hero for so many women. And I can see you getting emotional right now. Because I never thought I was going to be in this position, you know? Reporter: For those who think they know Carlson and followed her career, she may seem miscast, her viewpoints typically traditional, often conservative. Then the fact she's a former physical America. What does that crown mean to you today? It's still something that I'm very proud of. Can you understand why some people think you are an unlikely feminist? I know, I don't like that title. Listen, I have been fighting for women my entire life. People who have known me all along know that about me. Reporter: Raised in Minnesota, Carlson was a precocious child. A violin prodigy. And a straight "A" student. She credits her mother for instilling a drive for excellence. I grew up thinking that I could be anything I wanted to be in this world. Because my mom told me that every single night. Reporter: Her determination led her to Stanford university. Then in Atlantic City, at 22, she wowed the crowd with her performance. ??? ??? Reporter: And was crowned miss America. Miss Mork, Gretchen Carlson! Reporter: Fresh off her win, Carlson arrived in New York in the fall of 1988 for a victory lap. Where her ability to hold her own was publicly put to the test by the unabashed local news fixture penny crohn. What is real on you, what isn't real? Everything on me is real. Your hair is the natural color? Except for a few highlights. Have you had sex yet? Or are you waiting to get married? Oh, come on. No comment on that. Reporter: Carlson refused to be rattled. It was pretty astonishing for a 22-year-old woman who had just accomplished something pretty spectacular to be faces with that kind of demeaning question. Reporter: Being bullied by the press paled in comparison to the sexual harassment Carlson says she faced as she tried to break into television. She says one incident involved a high-powered pr executive in los Angeles. We were in a car and he took my head and my neck and he shoved my face into his crotch so forcefully that I couldn't breathe. Did you blame yourself? I think to a certain part, yeah. You think, I must have done something. Reporter: Carlson says another incident happened at her first job in local news. After a cameraman placed a microphone under her blouse which is a routine practice. She says he then began making sexually suggestive comments about her breasts. He started asking me questions about how I felt when he had to touch my private parts. And I thought, whoa. This is not a safe conversation. Reporter: She planned to stay silent. But then she says her news director noticed she was visibly shaken and pushed her to tell him what happened. I told him. When situations like that happen to women, you fear that it's going to be your fault. You're not going to be believed. You're going to lose your job. You're going to be "That woman." You're going to be that woman, troublemaker. Troublemaker, not whistle-blower. Exactly. Reporter: Always the journalist, Carlson must have noticed a tinge of familiarity mixed in with my empathy. I'm going to go out on a limb and ask if sexual harassment's ever happened to you. It has. And it's something that I think has happened to so many women and most of us say nothing. Because look at how we react to women when they finally do come forward. They're accused of making it up. Do you remember the moment when you said to yourself, I'm ready and I'm prepared to take on the most powerful man in television? I wish I could answer that, but I can't. Reporter: Because of her landmark settlement agreement with Fox News, Gretchen was unable to answer any of those questions about the allegations she made after her departure. Do you feel like you've won? I can't answer specifically about whether or not I won in that specific case. But -- boy, I hope I've helped other women to win. How important is actual evidence in proving a sexual harassment case? Very important. Because of the he said, she said. But people would be very interested to know that if they're considering trying to arm themselves with any kind of evidence, you should check what your laws are in your particular state. A lot of people who are dealing with sexual harassment say, what am I supposed to do? I can't afford to lose this job. What do you say to those women? I say that we as a country have to come up with a solution for every single one of them. And that's what I hope to at least start the discussion on. Reporter: This has become Carlson's mission. She is now planning to testify before congress. She's creating a foundation to help empower women. And she's encouraging families to start the conversation about sexual harassment early, something she is doing with her own daughter Kaya and son Christian. I want my son when he gets into the workplace to respect his female colleagues in the same way that he looks at his mom. ??? What have you told her about the challenges she may face as a woman in the workplace? Right. I'm not talking to her about anything negative right now, I'm building her up. Are you confident when you go into your first job after seeing what your mom's done, that you will speak up? Yeah. My mom has also made it so this will happen less. But I'm confident if this happens, I will be able to speak up and do what's right. Do you think your mom's a hero? Yes, I do think my mom's a hero, for many women, also for many men in the world. Because she's teaching them how to treat women. Reporter: Mom's sage advice seems to be rubbing off. She came home from school recently and said to me, mommy, I took on that challenge and I handled it, and I'm proud of myself. And I did it because you did it. That's all that matters. If the only thing I accomplished was that my children would be proud of me, that would have been enough. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm Amy robach in greenwich, Connecticut. Our thanks to Amy.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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