Update, 6:27 p.m.: The New York Times reports that Ailes will get some $40 million as part of a settlement with 21st Century Fox on his current contract, which runs through 2018. Included in the agreement is a noncompete clause that disallows Ailes from starting a Fox News competitor. The terms of the settlement will also keep Ailes in the Fox orbit, as an advisor to Murdoch, although he will have no official role with Fox News. That Ailes will continue to be a paid employee of Murdoch has irked some Fox employees, CNN reports.
Original Post: A tumultuous few days at Fox News has ended with the resignation of chairman and CEO Roger Ailes on Thursday following a sexual harassment scandal that threatened to pit him against one of the network’s biggest stars.
On Tuesday, several outlets published the news that Ailes would be ousted this week as head of Fox News and Fox Business, but some of them had to either retract those reports or update them when sources walked the information back.
That same day it was also reported that Megyn Kelly, the network’s biggest female star, had told investigators looking into allegations of sexual harassment for parent company 21st Century Fox that she had been harassed by Ailes about 10 years ago when she was a young correspondent. Former Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes about two weeks ago, and soon after a flood of allegations began to emerge.
The Drudge Report published a copy of Ailes’ resignation letter, in which he nodded to the harassment scandal and said that he had done a lot for women in journalism.
“I take particular pride in the role that I have played advancing the careers of the many women I have promoted to executive and on-air positions,” he said. “Many of these talented journalists have deservedly become household names known for their intelligence and strength, whether reporting the news, fair and balanced, and offering exciting opinions on our opinion programs.”
More than 20 women have accused him of sexual harassment, according to Carlson’s legal team.
“Having spent 20 years building this historic business, I will not allow my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done every day to ensure that Fox News and Fox Business continue to lead our industry,” Ailes said.
Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox executive chairman, took over as chairman and acting CEO of both networks.
Murdoch issued a statement praising Ailes, but with no mention of the multiple harassment allegations.
“Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country,” Murdoch said. “His grasp of policy and his ability to make profoundly important issues accessible to a broader audience stand in stark contrast to the self-serving elitism that characterizes far too much of the media.”
Murdoch said that he would be running the company with the support of the current management team under Bill Shine, Jay Wallace, and Mark Kranz. He emphasized continuity.
“I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice,” Murdoch said. “Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country.”
Ailes’ resignation letter said he would be continuing to work as a “consultant in building 21st Century Fox.”