Fox News on Monday announced the resignation of co-President Bill Shine, who had been the right-hand man to founding chairman Roger Ailes until his departure last year, when Shine was named to share the top chair in the company.
In a relatively terse statement from the network’s top box, Rupert Murdoch, he said, “Sadly, Bill Shine resigned today. I know Bill was respected and liked by everybody at Fox News. We will all miss him.”
He then went on to name Suzanne Scott as president of programming and Jay Wallace as president of news. Both are longtime network insiders.
Fox has been in turmoil since last year. First CEO Ailes left not of his own free will after allegations of sexual harassment.
Then primetime host Megyn Kelly fled for another network.
Then top evening news icon Bill O’Reilly was escorted from his primetime slot, after claims of sexual harassment, and one of his regulars, Jesse Watters, announced an abrupt vacation after claims he made suggestive comments about the way Ivanka Trump talks into a microphone.
Murdoch, who sons Lachlan and James have been expressing more and more influence over Fox, said in a statement that, “Bill has played a huge role in building Fox News to its present position as the nation’s biggest and most important cable channel in the history of the industry. His contribution to our channel and our country will resonate for many years.”
CNN noted that no one as accused Shine of harassing behavior, but some former employees have suggested he covered up the acts of others.
Rupert Murdoch said Jack Abernethy, the other co-president, will remain.
Political suggested a “bigger house cleaning is coming.”
It was only last week that one of Fox’s most powerful and enduring stars, Sean Hannity, warned the network is essentially “done,” if Shine were to be removed.
Hannity was on Twitter on Thursday to defend Shine, according to a report in Variety.
“Gäbe i pray this is NOT true because if it is, that’s the total end of the FNC as we know it. Done. Best Sean,” Hannity tweeted, linking to Gabe Sherman’s New York magazine story “citing unnamed sources who claimed that Shine has become worried about what he perceives as lack of public support for him from 21st Century Fox leaders Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch,” Variety reported.
He then quickly apologized for the extra phonetics mark in Sherman’s name.
“Ha. Gabe sorry about the 2 dots. I couldn’t do that again if I tried. Best Sean.”
Hannity suggests Shine was being set up as the victim in an internal Fox News strategy, again explaining on social media: “Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC is trying to get an innocent person fired. And Gabe I KNOW WHO it is. Best Sean.”
He followed with “#Istandwithshine.”
The two, Variety reported, have been together a long time, with Shine’s hiring at Fox coming after Hannity’s recommendation. And Shine was a producer early on in the history of “Hannity & Colmes.”
When Ailes departed, Shine was appointed by Rupert Murdoch to assume the executive post, along with co-President Jack Abernethy.
But Shine was named, among several others, in a race discrimination complaint that carries allegations from several workers into the courtroom.
Amid all the controversy, WND reported earlier this month that Fox News issued a memo ordering all involved in its report to attend mandatory sensitivity training “to ensure that we maintain a professional workplace.”
The memo was issued by Fox’s head of human resources, Kevin Lord, urging employees to register for the one-hour training and finish it “as soon as possible.”
When news of Fox’s mandatory sensitivity training came out, Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report tweeted a photo of his Fox badge with the message: “It was 1998. I never got ‘sensitivity training’…”
As WND reported, O’Reilly spoke out publicly in a podcast Monday about the sexual harassment accusations that ended his career – vowing that Americans will “be shaken” when they learn the truth about the whole affair.
The 44-year-old Murdoch reportedly was involved in the decisions to remove both Ailes and O’Reilly, which could signal a shift.
The Hollywood Reporter, citing insider sources, cast the “dream” of James Murdoch as “combining Sky News and Fox News with the vast Murdoch reach and producing some ultimate global news brand” that apparently would look more like CNN than the current Fox News.
“Where Fox News is parochial and America First, the new global brand is worldly and unlimited,” the Reporter said.
The paper said James Murdoch’s “longtime annoyance if not disgust with Fox News became cold fury” after the Times’ April 1 story about the accusations of sexual harassment against O’Reilly.
Despite the fact that Fox News is the biggest earning division of 21st Century Fox – with 20 percent of its profits – James “regarded many of the people at Fox News as thuggish Neanderthals and said he was embarrassed to be in the same company with them.”
The feeling apparently is mutual, with many at Fox News regarding James as “exhibit No. 1 of the liberal elite entitlement that Fox had so profitably programmed against.”
In its 2010 story, the New York Times reported that Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son, Lachlan, now executive co-chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, along with his daughter Elizabeth, a TV producer in London, and James “are sympathetic to Democratic causes and frequently voiced concerns to their father” about Fox News’s coverage of Barack Obama’s initial presidential campaign in 2008.