Roger Ailes, one of the most influential executives in TV news history, is expected to leave his post as chief executive of Fox News Channel, according to multiple reports Tuesday.
FNC parent company 21st Century Fox has moved to sever ties with Ailes amid allegations that the Fox News Channel chairman sexually harassed female employees, according to those reports.
One report, in Variety, said Ailes is “officially out,” attributing that to “a source familiar with the situation.” That followed an online report in New York magazine Monday that said the sons of News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch — James and Lachlan, 21st Century Fox CEO and executive co-chairman of News Corp, respectively — had decided to remove Ailes from his post.
However, late Tuesday afternoon, a statement from 21st Century Fox said: “Roger is at work. The review is ongoing. And the only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement.” Susan Estrich, a partner at Los Angeles’ Quinn Emanuel, who is representing Ailes, told the Hollywood Reporter: “As you know, exit agreements can take all kinds of different forms, including agreements that provide for continuing roles. So there’s a lot of negotiations going on.”
A call to Estrich was not returned late Tuesday.
Ailes is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit by former “Fox & Friends” co-host Gretchen Carlson, who left the network in June. A Manhattan law firm is conducting an internal investigation into that charge.
Meanwhile, New York magazine also reported Tuesday that Ailes had harassed Megyn Kelly, the channel’s highest profile female star, a decade ago.According to that report, Kelly told the counsel hired by 21st Century Fox to investigate Carlson’s accusations that she, too, had been harassed by Ailes when she was a reporter first starting out at Fox.
A lawyer for Ailes denied Tuesday that the embattled Fox News Channel chief executive sexually harassed Kelly, according to The Associated Press.
The Drudge Report — which has close ties to Fox — said Ailes was “working on” a $40 million settlement as part of an exit agreement. But that appeared to be contradicted by another Drudge “bulletin,” which said that the Ailes’ ouster reports were at most premature.
A network representative referred a request for comment to 21st Century Fox.
Ailes, 76, a former media consultant for three presidents — Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — was the founding chief executive of Fox News Channel, which he launched in 1996 and which subsequently overtook CNN as cable’s most watched news channel.