It’s official: Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and chairman of Fox Television Stations, has stepped down effective immediately. Rupert Murdoch will take over the role of chairman and acting CEO.
In a statement, Murdoch focused on the positive contributions of Ailes stating, “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. It is always difficult to create a channel or a publication from the ground up and against seemingly entrenched monopolies…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.”
The announcement comes two weeks after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes, which was followed by a New York Magazine article in which more women came forward saying he’d made sexual advances toward them earlier in his career. Carlson claimed she was fired after rejecting Ailes’s advances, and fellow Fox anchor Megyn Kelly also reportedly told investigators she had been sexually harassed by Ailes when she began working for the network in its Washington bureau. Ailes has denied Carlson’s claims and said her show was cancelled due to poor ratings.
Ailes is the founder of Fox News Channel and has been with the company for the past twenty years since it proclaimed itself the “fair and balanced” network. Ailes had a contract that was not due to expire until 2018.
The changeover comes at a crossroads for the network. The upcoming election has challenged the network after Republican nominee Donald Trump criticized Kelly, one of the network’s most popular anchors. For a network that brands itself as the antidote to the “lamestream media”, as former contributor and Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin described it, to be sparring with a Republican candidate has potentially damaged their perception with viewers. Now, two of their most well known anchors, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, have contracts with clauses that allow them to exit should Ailes leave. Kelly is also currently in contract renewal talks. Ailes’s exit announcement does not explain any long-term succession plans for the network.
Emily J | Staff Writer