Fox News’ handling of the renewed harassment allegations is a reflection of greater company conflicts and a generational shift as Rupert hangs on to a bygone era and James and Lachlan plot a risky new course.
Michael Wolff reports: Last July, after Gretchen Carlson sued the Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox and Roger Ailes, the then-head of Fox News Channel, for sexual harassment, Rupert Murdoch told his sons, both Ailes enemies, that paying off Carlson without a fight would mean more lawsuits. Easy-money settlements always bring more claims. James and Lachlan Murdoch, however, were eager to get rid of their nemesis, and the most direct way to do that was to accept Carlson’s claims after a quickie investigation and then use a big payoff — $20 million — to end the dispute and calm the storm.
Nine months later, the chickens coming home to roost, Fox has continued to collect a string of look-alike claims against Ailes and against ratings giant Bill O’Reilly, with a firestorm of recent press attention on what The New York Times is calling the “O’Reilly revelations.” What has been revealed is not evidence nor an admission of guilt but details of payments settling complaints against O’Reilly — not a small distinction. You can assume maximal guilt, which the Times and other Fox haters do, or you can assume, as many lawyers do, that when there is money to be had, plaintiffs come out of the woodwork. (“Coming out of the woodwork” is a virtual term of art in big settlement tort cases).
Murdoch Senior is said to be saying, “I told you so.” James, CEO of 21st Century Fox, is blaming it on the Fox News culture and has hired Paul Weiss, the same law firm that performed a two-week investigation of Ailes, to probe O’Reilly (there is, too, a Department of Justice investigation of how settlement payments were made, which Rupert dismisses as DOJ liberal politics and which his sons see as indicating more Fox News dark arts). This is a reflection of greater family and company interests and conflicts. Read the rest of this entry »
Roger Ailes Resigns as Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Chairman Fox Television StationsPosted: July 21, 2016
Rupert Murdoch to Assume Role of Chairman and Acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network
New York, NY – July 21, 2016 – 21st Century Fox today announced that Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Chairman of Fox Television Stations, has resigned from his role effective immediately.
Rupert Murdoch will assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.
Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman, 21st Century Fox, said:
“Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country. Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.
Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media.
It is always difficult to create a channel or a publication from the ground up and against seemingly entrenched monopolies. To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds.
His 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.
I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice. Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country. Read the rest of this entry »
The departure of Mr Ailes could have an impact on the Republican party. Supremely well connected, he has helped shape the Republican agenda for more than a decade.
Roger Ailes is heading for the exit at Fox News Channel, the influential cable network beloved by American conservatives, with Rupert Murdoch and his sons in agreement that he should leave amid allegations of sexual harassment.
“Three of Fox News’ biggest stars — Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren — have clauses in their contracts that would allow them to depart if Mr Ailes were to leave the network…”
The timing and terms of the departure of the man who turned Fox News into a media and political powerhouse were unclear on Tuesday evening. Mr Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, the channel’s parent company, and Lachlan, his older son and co-chairman, would prefer to wait until after this week’s Republican convention, two people briefed on the matter told the Financial Times.
James Murdoch, Mr Murdoch’s younger son and chief executive, was pushing for Mr Ailes to go as soon as possible, those people said.
Late on Tuesday, the Drudge Report said that Mr Ailes had left Fox News with a $40m severance package. 21st Century Fox denied the report in a tweeted statement, saying: “Roger is at work. The review is ongoing. The only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement.”
“In another blow to Mr Ailes, New York magazine reported on Tuesday that Megyn Kelly, arguably Fox News’ biggest star, told lawyers leading the internal investigation that Mr Ailes had sexually harassed her a decade ago. 21st Century Fox declined to comment on the report and Fox News referred queries to its parent company.”
In 2012, the last year for which Mr Ailes’ pay was disclosed in the company’s proxy filing, he earned a total of $21m, including a $5m salary. Read the rest of this entry »
Roger Ailes’ time at the helm of Fox News could be nearing its end, according to a new report Monday by New York magazine.
The report, by Gabriel Sherman, a longtime chronicler of the Fox News chief and his tenure at one of the nation’s most influential news outlets, said that Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, had decided to remove the executive from his post in the wake of a sexual-harassment lawsuit leveled against him by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. The report, citing unnamed sources, suggested the executives, who run Fox News parent 21st Century Fox, were considering various strategies to have Ailes step down.
“This matter is not yet resolved and the review is not concluded,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement. A spokeswoman for Fox News could not be reached for immediate comment. Read the rest of this entry »
Lisa de Moraes reports:
…Last night’s debate, while a whopper for CNN and the Dems, still falls short of the 22.9 million viewers who’d watched CNN’s three-hour-plus GOP debate in mid September. That event set two records: biggest audience in CNN’s 30-year history and the longest presidential debate ever. And that debate’s overall crowd did not match the 24M who’d sat glued to the first GOP face-off in August on Fox News Channel, which is that network’s biggest audience ever. The FNC crowd also is the biggest nonsports audience ever for cable news.
Who knows how many more viewers would have tuned in last night had Biden made a Loretta Young entrance on the stage in Las Vegas to add much-needed drama. That thought of what might have been, ratings-wise, might explain in part why CNN on-air talent this morning chastised Biden for being a no show….(read more)
…Kelly began a 10-day vacation after her Wednesday night broadcast. Fox says the vacation was planned well ahead of time. But some bloggers and commentators have circulated theories that Kelly was sidelined as a result of the Trump dispute.
“The conspiracy theories about Megyn Kelly‘s vacation rank up there with UFO’s, the moon landing and Elvis being alive. Megyn is on a pre-planned, annual summer vacation with her family, which is much deserved. To imply otherwise as Donald Trump and his campaign operatives have is not only wildly irresponsible, but downright bizarre.”
In an interview with Newsmax TV on Friday, Trump indicated that he was inclined to believe the theories.
“There probably was” a connection, he said. “But I wouldn’t know about it.”
He added that “people were very very surprised that all of a sudden she decided to go away for 10 or 11 or 12 days.”
Fox News responded with a sharply worded statement on Friday night.
“Perhaps Mr. Trump thinks it’s advantageous to his poll numbers to keep talking about Megyn, but that doesn’t change the fact that Roger Ailes has fully supported her and her tough journalistic questioning since day one and is thrilled with the added exposure from the debate, which resulted in even higher ratings of ‘The Kelly File’ this week.”
“The conspiracy theories about Megyn Kelly‘s vacation rank up there with UFO’s, the moon landing and Elvis being alive,” a network spokeswoman said. “Megyn is on a pre-planned, annual summer vacation with her family, which is much deserved. To imply otherwise as Donald Trump and his campaign operatives have is not only wildly irresponsible, but downright bizarre.”
The spokeswoman added, “Perhaps Mr. Trump thinks it’s advantageous to his poll numbers to keep talking about Megyn, but that doesn’t change the fact that Roger Ailes has fully supported her and her tough journalistic questioning since day one and is thrilled with the added exposure from the debate, which resulted in even higher ratings of ‘The Kelly File’ this week.”
Kelly talked on Wednesday’s program about how she hasn’t had a real vacation for six months. She’ll be back on August 24.
Speaking with Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg on Friday, Trump said that Ailes “couldn’t have been nicer” when the two men spoke by phone on Monday.
Compare and Contrast: Fox Moderators Praised for Being ‘Tough’ on GOP Contenders vs Liberal Media’s Worship of Dem LeaderPosted: August 7, 2015
There were mixed reviews of the candidates on Thursday night, but almost unanimously positive reviews of the Fox News moderators.
“Tough.” “Brilliant.” “Pitbulls.”
The raves for Fox‘s questioning started right away and continued well into the evening, even from rivals and critics who rarely praise the cable news channel.
Austan Goolsbee, a former member of President Obama’s cabinet, gave Fox credit this way:
“If they were treating the Dems like this, I would have said they were gratuitously busting their chops.”
Yochi Dreazen, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, said some of the candidates looked “shell-shocked” by tough questions from Fox, a channel defined by its conservative political and cultural tilt.
That’s what public radio host Kai Ryssdal meant when he wrote,
“Have to hand it to Fox News moderators for going after their guys.”
Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and his lieutenants have been at the center of the presidential race for weeks thanks to Thursday’s debate and the controversial entry criteria for it. Only the “top ten” candidates, as determined by the polls, were invited to the prime time event…
“Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus.”
“No one saw him coming, and Christians believe God comes at us from strange angles and places we don’t expect, like Jesus being born in a manger.”
“Many even see in Obama a messiah-like figure, a great soul, and some affectionately call him Mahatma Obama.”
“We just like to say his name. We are considering taking it as a mantra.”
“A Lightworker – An Attuned Being with Powerful Luminosity and High-Vibration Integrity who will actually help usher in a New Way of Being”
“What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation’s political history.”
“Does it not feel as if some special hand is guiding Obama on his journey, I mean, as he has said, the utter improbability of it all?”
“He communicates God-like energy…”
– Steve Davis (Charleston, SC)
“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
“Not just an ordinary human being but indeed an Advanced Soul.”
“I’ll do whatever he says to do. I’ll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear.”
“A quantum leap in American consciousness.”
“He is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians… . the agent of transformation in an age of revolution, as a figure uniquely qualified to open the door to the 21st century.”
“Barack Obama is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings … He’s our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence.”
“This is bigger than Kennedy… . This is the New Testament…I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often. No, seriously. It’s a dramatic event.”
“…creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom … the man for this time.”
“Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate… . He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh … Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves.”
“Obama has the capacity to summon heroic forces from the spiritual depths of ordinary citizens and to unleash therefrom a symphonic chorus of unique creative acts whose common purpose is to tame the soul and alleviate the great challenges facing mankind.”
“We’re here to evolve to a higher plane … he is an evolved leader … [he] has an ear for eloquence and a Tongue dipped in the Unvarnished Truth.”
“I would characterize the Senate race as being a race where Obama was, let’s say, blessed and highly favored. That’s not routine. There’s something else going on. I think that Obama, his election to the Senate, was divinely ordered… . I know that that was God’s plan.“
Fox’s Roger Ailes: Jon Stewart’s Sugar Daddy Comedy Supplier Sends the Departing Host Home with a Taste of His Own MedicinePosted: August 6, 2015
Roger Ailes: a smile and a knife in the ribs
“He’s been after us for years. Occasionally we pay attention. We think he’s funny. We never took it seriously and he never made a dent in us.”
Paul Bond writes: As Jon Stewart‘s final Daily Show approaches, the comedian has mercilessly mocked Fox News Channel, even comparing Roger Ailes to Death. It’s almost like he’s daring the network’s chairman and CEO to respond. Now, he has.
“He’s a brilliant comedian. He’s actually a very nice guy, and I saw him with his kids on the street. He’s a good father. He has a bitter view of the world and you see it embodied in how he’s reacting to Fox News, equating it with death.”
“He’s been after us for years. Occasionally we pay attention. We think he’s funny. We never took it seriously and he never made a dent in us,” Ailes told The Hollywood Reporter after being contacted on Wednesday.
“He’s feeling unrewarded because Fox News beats him on the amount of money we make, on ratings and on popularity. I’m sure it’s very depressing when he sits home at night and worries about it. We never did.”
The Fox News chief added: “As he faces the end of his career, he’s beginning to wonder: ‘Is this as popular as I’m ever going to get? Is this as much power as I’ll ever have? The one person I could never get rid of was Roger Ailes. I tried. I did everything I could.’ This was all a plea to his lefty friends. I think he’s disappointed that he didn’t accomplish that goal, and we, of course, supplied him with half of his comedy. It’s just a matter of disappointment.”
“As he faces the end of his career, he’s beginning to wonder: ‘Is this as popular as I’m ever going to get? Is this as much power as I’ll ever have? The one person I could never get rid of was Roger Ailes. I tried. I did everything I could.’ This was all a plea to his lefty friends. I think he’s disappointed that he didn’t accomplish that goal, and we, of course, supplied him with half of his comedy. It’s just a matter of disappointment.”
During his show last week, Jon Stewart showed a clip of the Ingmar Bergman movie, The Seventh Seal, only he substituted Ailes for the Death character. Ailes told THR he hadn’t seen the segment, but he isn’t surprised at the vitriol aimed at him.
“You can’t say that many negative things about people unless you’re really unhappy about something. actually think he doesn’t dislike me. We met once or twice. I talked to him for an hour once in my office. I think he’s really smart and he’s got a great future.”
“He’s feeling unrewarded because Fox News beats him on the amount of money we make, on ratings and on popularity. I’m sure it’s very depressing when he sits home at night and worries about it. We never did,” Ailes said. Read the rest of this entry »
Washington Post Profile of Megyn Kelly Makes it Exactly Nine Words Before Saying ‘Eyelash Extensions’Posted: December 13, 2013
Fox News’ Rising Star
This is a bizarre profile. It starts with four paragraphs of fetishistic narrative of Kelly’s pre-show cosmetic work. Of course. Why not begin the story by treating her like a model rather than a journalist? This is the Washington Post. Even more unsettling, Dan Zak indulges in writerly self-reflection, interrupting his profile of Kelly with a surreal inner dialogue, writing about writing about his subject. Is he writing about himself? Or his subject?
Is it in part to excuse his shallow observations? Or these stylistic flourishes are meant to help sell the story? Or he had trouble during the deadline, and lost his way? Or because Megyn Kelly‘s overpowering personality and rapid success unnerved him? Part of me hopes it’s the latter.
(I have a few more comments at the end of the profile, after the jump, about the media’s earth-shattering Megyn Kelly trumped-up ‘Santa Claus’ controversy.)
Megyn Kelly is a force of nature, that’s for sure. Actually it’s not a bad profile. Maybe this is how Dan Zak writes all the time. I’ll let the reader decide. He begins with cosmetics, cosmetics, cosmetics, but ends up with an engaging profile that’s fair and fun to read. How many words before he mentions eyelash extensions? I count nine.
Dan Zak writes: The anchor who might beat Bill O’Reilly gets her eyelash extensions applied one at a time, with tweezers and dabs of glue, about 90 minutes before showtime, right after a motorized gun sprays foundation over her face, neck, shoulders, collarbone and sternum, wiping out a galaxy of light freckles that spreads across her —
Would you write this way about a man?
About O’Reilly himself?
At least that’s what Megyn Kelly might ask at this point. Kelly, 43, is the host of “The Kelly File,” a live TV program that airs weeknights at 9 p.m. on the Fox News Channel, where she interrupts and challenges guests whenever they resort to talking points or petty distractions. It debuted just over two months ago, and so far its ratings among 25-to-54-year-olds have exceeded those of “The O’Reilly Factor” six times. In November, her first full month in prime time after years in daytime, Kelly was second only to O’Reilly in the overall ratings, which means she’s the No. 2 person on cable news’s No. 1 channel.
“It’s like working on a supermodel every day — a brilliant supermodel,” says makeup artist Maureen Walsh, as she air-brushes Kelly’s skin from milky white to Technicolor.
The small makeup room is hot from the blow dryer. Pen in hand, Kelly, a former corporate lawyer, reads an article headlined “For Democrats in 2014, the Web site is still the problem,” her eyes zipping over text as Maureen smudges heavy plum-colored eye shadow on her lids.
Fox News executive vice president of corporate communications Brian Lewis was fired and thrown out of the building two weeks ago after an internal investigation found that he had breached his contract with regard to “issues relating to financial irregularities,” according to the network. Lewis was widely perceived to be the top aide to Fox News president Roger Ailes, and was reportedly working on his separation agreement as of Tuesday.
A company spokesperson stated, “After an extensive internal investigation of Brian Lewis’ conduct by Fox News, it was determined that he should be terminated for cause, specifically for issues relating to financial irregularities, as well as for multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract. He was terminated for cause on July 25.”
Lewis joined the company at its inception 17 years ago, and rose to his current position for Fox News, Fox Business Network, Fox Television Stations and 20th Television.
According to the Drudge Report, there is a major shakeup under way at Fox News. For the first time in a decade, changes are underway in the network’s top-rated primetime schedule.
Afternoon anchor and rising cable news superstar Megyn Kelly is moving into the 9PM hour currently occupied by Sean Hannity.
Hannity hosts one of the top two or three hours in all of cable. So it would be a major surprise if “Hannity” wasn’t moved into another primetime slot.
This post will be updated as new reports come in.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC