Dear Commons Community,
Roger Ailes, the Chairman of Fox News, is negotiating his departure from the cable news corporation, in light of allegations of sexual harassment. As reported by the New York Times:
Roger Ailes’s tenure as the head of Fox News appears to be over.
Mr. Ailes and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, are in the advanced stages of discussions that would lead to his departure as chairman, Susan Estrich, one of Mr. Ailes’s lawyers, said in an interview on Tuesday.
The development follows a sexual harassment suit filed on July 6 against Mr. Ailes by a former anchor, Gretchen Carlson. The suit prompted 21st Century Fox to conduct an internal review and it set off an intense round of speculation in the news media and the television industry about Mr. Ailes’s future at Fox News.
On Tuesday, the sides were negotiating terms that could include Mr. Ailes’s staying on in a consulting role for Fox News. Ms. Estrich said nothing had been finalized about what sort of continuing role he could have at the network.
“Roger is at work,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement. “The review is ongoing. And the only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement.”
Mr. Ailes’s exit would be a humbling and startlingly sudden fall from power for a man who started Fox News from scratch 20 years ago and built it into a top-rated cable news network and a critical profit center for 21st Century Fox. Along the way, Mr. Ailes, a former Republican operative, established Fox News as the leading media platform for conservative politics. He also minted prime-time stars like Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren.
Mr. Ailes, 76, has also long been at the center of Republican politics, and the timing of the discussions between Mr. Ailes and 21st Century Fox was remarkable, occurring on the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
News of Mr. Ailes’s impending exit landed like a shock wave in Cleveland, where many of the nation’s leading television executives and personalities were gathered in tight quarters. Several Fox anchors who were approached on Tuesday afternoon declined to comment on Mr. Ailes’s fate, many having followed developments from the chaotic convention scene.
Rupert Murdoch, who was on vacation with his wife, Jerry Hall, on the French Riviera, had been in constant telephone contact with his sons, James and Lachlan, on the matter, according to a person familiar with the discussions. All three were in agreement on Mr. Ailes’s fate, the person said, though the moment was particularly poignant for the elder Mr. Murdoch, whose successful partnership with Mr. Ailes spanned more than two decades. Both James and Lachlan have had disagreements with Mr. Ailes over the years.
One of the people who participated in the investigation was the network’s most popular female star, Ms. Kelly. She told investigators that Mr. Ailes had made advances toward her multiple times in the past, according to two people briefed on the matter. (Ms. Kelly’s accusations were first reported by New York magazine.) Other employees also told the investigators that they had been harassed by Mr. Ailes, one of the people briefed on the matter said.
In a statement, Ms. Estrich, Mr. Ailes’s lawyer, said: “Roger Ailes has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly. In fact, he has spent much of the last decade promoting and helping her to achieve the stardom she earned, for which she has repeatedly and publicly thanked him.”
Ms. Kelly’s lawyer, Willis J. Goldsmith, said in a statement, “Megyn Kelly has made no public comment on the matter, nor will she while the review is pending, other than to say she has cooperated with the inquiry fully and truthfully.”
Roger Ailes made a lot of money for Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox, and for that he should be congratulated. However, much of the programming during his tenure was more conservative talk show and vitriol than news with many reporters regularly spinning every story and segment to fit a conservative and Republican Party ideology.