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 Ailes’ departure last year.
Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of parent News Corp and acting CEO of Fox News, tweeted: “Sadly, Bill Shine resigned today. I know Bill was respected and liked by everybody at Fox News. We will all miss him.”
Suzanne Scott is the new president of programming, and Jay Wallace has been promoted to president of news. Both are longtime network insiders.
Fox News has been in turmoil since last year. First, CEO Ailes was forced out after allegations of sexual harassment.
Then prime-time host Megyn Kelly fled for NBC.
Last month, top-rated host Bill O’Reilly was escorted from his prime-time slot amid claims of sexual harassment, and one of his regulars, Jesse Watters, announced an abrupt vacation after claims he made suggestive comments about Ivanka Trump during a broadcast.
Murdoch, whose sons Lachlan and James have had increasing influence over Fox News, said in a statement about Shine: “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 has 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.
Politico suggested a “bigger house cleaning is coming.”
It was only last week that one of Fox News’ most powerful and enduring stars, Sean Hannity, warned the network is essentially “done,” if Shine were to be removed.
Hannity was on Twitter Thursday to defend Shine, writing to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman that if the rumors about Shine’s imminent departure were true, it’s “the total end of the FNC as we know it.”
Hannity suggested Shine was being set up as the victim in an internal Fox News struggle.
“Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC is trying to get an innocent person fired. And Gabe I KNOW WHO it is. Best Sean,” he tweeted.
He followed with “#Istandwithshine.”
The two have been together a long time, with Shine’s hiring at Fox coming after Hannity’s recommendation. And Shine was a producer early on of “Hannity & Colmes.”
Hannity closed his show on Monday night by addressing reports that he is planning to leave the network in the wake of Shine’s departure.
“By the way, special thank you to all our friends in the media that were tuning in tonight, maybe for the first time. And all the lies you’ve heard about me are not true,” he said.
Meanwhile, a report Monday in Mediaite indicated a new conservative network in the works is actively trying to lure Hannity away from Fox News to itself.
“I just don’t see Fox News and Sean having a long relationship. If Sean becomes available, you have 100 percent turnover in primetime and a huge opportunity,” an unnamed TV executive told Mediaite.
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 the controversy, WND reported earlier this month that Fox News issued a memo ordering all employees 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 the public will “be shaken” when they learn the truth about the whole affair.
WND also reported on what may be a new direction for the network, with the emergence of Rupert Murdoch’s politically progressive son, James, as a leader of the empire.
The 44-year-old James 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 a 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.