The speculation about Roger Ailes’ fate as Fox News chief ended today with the announcement from Fox that Ailes has exited the network.
Ailes leaves after 20 years with Fox News, which he built into a ratings powerhouse and a big money generator for parent company 21st Century Fox. His exit comes under the cloud of scandal after he was accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson.
Rupert Murdoch will assume the role of chairman and acting chief executive of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, according to the announcement.
The announcement makes no mention of allegations against Ailes. Instead, Murdoch talks up Ailes’ achievements.
“Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country,” Murdoch states. “Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.
“Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media.”
Murdoch adds: “It is always difficult to create a channel or a publication from the ground up and against seemingly entrenched monopolies. To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds.
“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’s sons, Lachlan, 21st Century Fox’s co-executive chairman, and CEO James, said in a joint statement as part of the announcement:
“We join our father in recognizing Roger’s remarkable contributions to our company. Our talented Fox News and Fox Business colleagues, up and down the organization and on both sides of the camera, have built something that continues to redefine the cable news experience for millions of viewers. We are enormously proud of their accomplishments. For them, as well as for our colleagues across our entire organization, we continue our commitment to maintaining a work environment based on trust and respect. We take seriously our responsibility to uphold these traditional, long-standing values of our company.”
The Hollywood Reporter notes: “Terms of the exit agreement have not been released, but sources say Ailes will walk away with $40 million, which is the remainder left on his contract, which originally extended into 2018. There also is no formal advisory role in the exit agreement, but Ailes will be available to Rupert Murdoch during the transition period. And sources say there is a non-compete clause in the exit agreement, which is standard.”
The Los Angeles Times adds: “Since the allegations by Carlson became public — she filed a suit in a New Jersey Superior Court on July 6 — reports have emerged of several other women who have worked with with the executive in the past also saying that he sought sexual favors in return for employment. Ailes has denied those incidents as well. But the reports hurt the executive’s standing.”