The turmoil at Fox News continued Monday with the ouster of co-president Bill Shine, who succeeded Roger Ailes amid a harassment case that had Ailes step down last summer.
Shine, a 20-year Fox News veteran, appeared to have the backing of Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch in the wake of the firing of Bill O’Reilly, Fox’s biggest star. Only last week, Murdoch, Shine and Fox co-president Jack Abernethy were photographed emerging from lunch at a Manhattan restaurant, a tableau widely read as a vote of confidence by Murdoch in the two men.
Instead, Shine appeared to come under increasing pressure all week, as rumors began circulating that Murdoch’s sons – Lachlan and James, who run Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox – were seeking his successor.
Shine ran the programming arm of the media empire, while Abernethy, also a longtime Fox News executive, runs the business side of the company, including ad sales, finance and distribution.
Rupert Murdoch announced Shine’s departure in an internal memo Monday afternoon:
“Sadly, Bill Shine resigned today,” he wrote. “I know Bill was respected and liked by everyone at Fox News. We will all miss him.”
Murdoch said Suzanne Scott, Shine’s top deputy, will become president of programming. Jay Wallace, executive vice president of news, will be president of news.
Added Murdoch: “Fox News continues to break both viewing and revenue records, for which I thank you all. I am sure we can do even better.”
The terse and relatively upbeat announcement masked what has become an extraordinarily tumultuous nine months for Fox News. Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s harassment lawsuit against Ailes last July triggered a succession of lawsuits, internal investigations, resignations and firings.
In addition to Ailes, O’Reilly and now Shine, Fox has lost Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren, both of whom anchored evening programs on Fox. Both joined NBC in January, with Van Susteren becoming the host of a program on MSNBC while Kelly is slated to host a prime-time magazine show on NBC in June.
The network also has a new chief financial officer and head of human resources.
The appointment of Scott puts a woman at the top of the network for the first time in its 21-year history and may be the most visible sign yet that the younger Murdochs are attempting to foster what they called “a workplace based on the values of respect and trust” when Ailes was forced out last year.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Paul Farhi