Sunday 22 April 2018

Fox News boss quits after sex allegations

Out: Roger Ailes. Photo: Reuters/Fred Prouser/File Photo
Out: Roger Ailes. Photo: Reuters/Fred Prouser/File Photo

David Bauder

The powerful boss of Fox News has finally quit after weeks of allegations of sexual ­harassment by a female former anchor and others.

Ailes built the US network from scratch and ran it with an iron hand for nearly 20 years. But his tenure ended last night after a lawsuit claimed he forced out former anchor Gretchen Carlson because she spurned his sexual advances.

Network parent 21st Century Fox said Rupert Murdoch would run Fox News and its sister Fox Business Network until a successor could be found.

Murdoch and 21st Century Fox and Murdoch did not address the widening scandal in a statement on the resignation but praised Ailes for his contributions.

"I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice," Murdoch said. "Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country."

Ailes is expected to get a payout of at least $40m (€36m) and is expected to serve as an informal adviser to Murdoch.

The blustery, 76-year-old media executive built a network that both transformed the news business and changed the political conversation. Fox News Channel provided a television home to conservatives who had felt left out of the media, and played a part in advancing a rough-and-tumble style of politics that left many concerned that it was impossible to get things done in government.

Ailes' downfall began with the July 6 filing of a lawsuit by Gretchen Carlson, who charged that he sabotaged her career because she refused his suggestions for sex and had complained about a pervasive atmosphere of sexual harassment at Fox. Ailes has denied the charges.

Several Fox employees jumped to Ailes' defence, but notably not Megyn Kelly, one of Fox's top personalities. In rapid succession, it was reported that Kelly was among other women who had told investigators about harassment - again denied by Ailes - and that corporate heads Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, determined that Ailes had to go. The company has no plans to make results of its investigation public.

Within two weeks of the court filing, Carlson's lawyers also said more than 20 women had contacted the firm with stories of alleged harassment by Ailes either against themselves or someone they knew. Two came forward publicly.

Before the charges, Fox's sheer success had insulated Ailes despite some previous scrapes with the Murdochs.

Irish Independent

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