Under pressure from a sexual harassment lawsuit, Roger Ailes, the powerful chairman and CEO of Fox News, resigned Thursday.
21st Century Fox announced that Rupert Murdoch will sit in as chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.
Just under two weeks ago, Ailes was sued for sexual harassment by former anchor Gretchen Carlson, who alleged that Ailes did not renew her contract at the network because she refused to sleep with him.
21st Century Fox said it supported Ailes but launched an internal inquiry. The inquiry reportedly turned up other women with stories about improper behavior by Ailes, including the network's rising star Megyn Kelly.
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Rupert Murdoch, now co-executive chairman of 21st Century Fox along with his sons James Murdoch, now CEO, and Lachlan Murdoch, co-executive chairman, had agreed that Ailes had to go. The rest of the week the company and Ailes negotiated Ailes' exit plan, which includes a golden parachute worth $40 million. Ailes was also reportedly seeking indemnification from any lawsuits resulting from his work at Fox News.
In 20 years, Ailes built Fox News from scratch into the top-rated cable news network and a powerhouse in the political sphere. Ailes was also chairman of the Fox Television Stations. He resigned that post as well.
Under Murdoch, the network will be run by its existing management team, led by Bill Shine, Jay Wallace and Mark Kranz.
In a statement, Rupert Murdoch said:
"Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country. 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.
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.
I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice. Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country."
In a statement, Lachlan Murdoch and James Murdoch, said:
"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."
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