This story has been updated.
Matt Drudge broke the story Tuesday afternoon, posting a copy of a purported severance agreement between the network and the embattled media baron on his Twitter account. The Daily Beast later confirmed the news, but reported that Fox News subsequently backed off confirming the report. And then Drudge added to the swirling uncertainty when he deleted the initial tweet that he’d touted as an “EXCLUSIVE.” On The Drudge Report, he posted a nebulous “STATEMENT” that read, “Roger Ailes has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly. In fact, he has spent much of the last decade promoting and helping her to achieve the stardom she earned, for which she has repeatedly and publicly thanked him.”
Ailes is just a year into a lucrative multi-year contract extension signed last June. According to the document posted by Drudge, he would walk away from Fox News with a $40 million dollar severance package. CNN reported that 21st Century Fox, the network’s parent company, issued a statement denying reports of Ailes’s demise. “Roger is at work. The review is ongoing. The only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement,” the statement read.
News of Ailes’s departure from the network followed an earlier report in New York magazine that revealed Megyn Kelly, the network’s biggest star, said she had been sexually harassed by the powerful executive.
Kelly has been conspicuously silent to date amid the sexual harassment scandal enveloping Ailes, the network’s longtime, powerful chief. As several female on-air Fox News personalities leapt to Ailes’s defense, Kelly refrained from saying anything — publicly. According to sources cited by Gabriel Sherman of New York magazine, that’s because Kelly told the law firm conducting an internal probe of Ailes’s managerial style that she was sexually harassed by Ailes in the past. Sherman reports that Kelly alleged to the lawyers that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances toward her about a decade ago when she was an up-and-coming reporter for the network. Kelly’s reported claims echo the accusations made by fired Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, whose lawsuit sparked the scandal, and several other women who have come forward with similar claims since Carlson first leveled allegations against Ailes earlier this month.
The news comes a day after Sherman reported that the Murdochs, who control the parent company of Fox News, have decided to remove Ailes from power. The only question seems to be when the dismissal will occur, according to those Sherman spoke with. Sources have now told Sherman that Ailes had been given an August 1 deadline to resign, or be fired.
On Monday, when Sherman’s original report about Ailes’s fate at the network broke, Women in the World founder Tina Brown floated a fun idea on Twitter: Make Megyn Kelly the new CEO of Fox News.
Read the full story at New York magazine.