This story has been updated.
Roger Ailes, the founder of the Fox New Channel, is leaving the network amid a deepening sexual harassment scandal that has enveloped the network in recent weeks. The network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced Ailes resignation in a statement on Thursday afternoon. Rupert Murdoch, the 85-year-old media baron, will take over Ailes’s duties effective immediately, the statement said. Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, said in the statement that “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.” The statement from 21st Century Fox made no mention about the internal probe the company has been conducting into allegations of sexual harassment against Ailes.
Ailes downfall began about two weeks ago when fired Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the 76-year-old news chief. Carlson alleged that she was fired for rebuffing Ailes’ unwanted sexual advances and as retaliation for questioning a workplace that was at times hostile toward women. The news came after a report in The Guardian that the sexual harassment allegations from many more women were piling up against the news chief.
At least 20 women have come forward to accuse Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, according to attorneys for Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox news host who filed a lawsuit against the network’s CEO two weeks ago. Since Carlson’s allegation that Ailes fired her after she refused to answer his advances, her legal team claims to have received many more accusations against the embattled news chairman — some recent and some dating back as far as the 1960s. John Garger, spokesman for Carlson declined to give further details as “messages are still coming in” but said a few of the accusations were as severe as those Carlson made. While Ailes has so far denied the accusations, rumors have been swirling that the influential chairman is on his way out from the network. The Murdoch family reportedly told him to resign by August 1 or be fired, and the Drudge Report published and then deleted what is believed to be a $40 million exit package offered by the network.
Earlier this week, New York magazine reported that Megyn Kelly, the network’s star anchor, had accused Ailes of sexual harassment and convinced another former Fox News anchor to testify against Ailes. Meanwhile, Carlson’s legal team is confident more accusations will come to the surface. “Gretchen’s legal team started hearing (mainly through calls and emails) from people with their own stories of harassment almost immediately the day that the lawsuit was filed and first reported on,” said Garger. And on Thursday, 21st Century Fox, the network’s parent company, had reportedly moved Ailes to an office in another building as the internal probe continues.
In his resignation letter to Murdoch, first obtained by The Drudge Report, Ailes did not address the accusations against him. He did trumpet his success with the network and the success he says women enjoyed under his stewardship. ““I take particular pride in the role that I have played advancing the careers of the many women I have promoted to executive and on-air positions,” Ailes wrote in the letter, according to The Wrap.
Read the full story at The Guardian.