Fox News chief Roger Ailes, one of the most powerful figures in the history of television and politics and who has homes in Garrison in Putnam County and Cresskill in Bergen County, stepped down Thursday after being dogged by sexual harassment allegations.
Parent company 21st Century Fox issued a statement saying that Ailes will be replaced by his 85-year-old boss, Rupert Murdoch, as chairman and acting chief executive officer of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.
According to the Daily News, the 76-year-old Ailes was given a $60 million golden parachute and will stay on as a consultant. His resignation is effective immediately.
Ailes’ job has apparently been in jeopardy ever since former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson, of Greenwich, Conn., filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in New Jersey, claiming she was fired after refusing to sleep with him, according to multiple media reports.
In a video posted on Twitter Wednesday, Carlson said forcing sexual harassment victims into “secret arbitration proceedings is wrong because it means nobody ever finds out what really happened.”
“We need to stand together with all of the victims to make sure they are not silenced,” Carlson said in the video.
Meanwhile Deborah Norville, the anchor of “Inside Edition,” a syndicated television news magazine, tweeted that Ailes was “out.”
Carlson responded: “Thanks always for your support.”
Norville also tweeted that 20 more women have “echoed” Carlson’s charges against Ailes.
Talkingpointsmemo.com said that Carlson’s attorneys are claiming to have gotten multiple calls and emails from women alleging similar incidents.
“New York” magazine reported that sources told it that Fox star Megyn Kelly has claimed Ailes harassed her when she was a young correspondent.
Ailes, through his attorneys, has denied both the women’s allegations, media reports said.
Meanwhile, Murdoch praised the former media consultant for presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as having made “a remarkable contribution to our company and our country.”
Murdoch said the ousted exec shared his “vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.”
Murdoch attributed part of conservative-leaning Fox News’ success to Ailes.
“It is always difficult to create a channel or a publication from the ground up and against seemingly entrenched monopolies,” the media mogul said. “To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds.”
He attributed that to Ailes’ “grasp of policy and his ability to make profoundly important issues accessible to a broader audience stand in stark contrast to the self-serving elitism that characterizes far too much of the media.”
Murdoch said he remained committed to ensuring that Fox “remains a powerful, distinctive voice.”
He said he was taking over as CEO with the “existing management team under Bill Shine, Jay Wallace and Mark Franz.”
Murdoch’s sons, Lachlan and James – 21st Century Fox’s executive chairman and chief executive officer respectively – also praised Ailes for his “remarkable contributions to our company.”
The pair said they were proud of the accomplishments of Fox News colleagues “on both sides of the camera” and vowed to continue their commitment to “a work environment based on trust and respect.”
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