18 February 2019
Roger Ailes is reportedly receiving a severance package of about US$40 million. Photo: Reuters
Roger Ailes is reportedly receiving a severance package of about US$40 million. Photo: Reuters

Fox News chief Ailes resigns amid sexual harassment claims

Roger Ailes resigned as chairman and chief executive of Fox News Channel following allegations of sexual harassment.

Rupert Murdoch, 85, the executive chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., the parent of Fox News, will assume the role of CEO at Fox News and Fox Business Network on an interim basis, Reuters reports, citing a statement from the company.

Ailes, who will serve as an informal adviser to Murdoch and no longer have an official role at the company, will receive a severance package of about US$40 million, the news agency said, citing an unnamed source.

In his resignation letter to Murdoch, Ailes did not indicate he had done anything wrong.

“I take particular pride in the role that I have played advancing the careers of the many women I have promoted to executive and on-air positions,” Ailes wrote in the letter, which his lawyer Susan Estrich provided to Reuters.

However, he added: “I will not allow my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done every day to ensure that Fox News and Fox Business continue to lead our industry.”

The resignation marks a swift downfall for Ailes, the 76-year-old media executive who advised several US Republican presidents, including George H.W. Bush, and turned Fox News into the most-watched US cable news channel.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes earlier this month, claiming sexual harassment.

Ailes has denied the charges. Fox hired a law firm to conduct an internal investigation.

New York magazine followed up with reports of other women who said they had been harassed by Ailes.

On Tuesday, the magazine said that popular Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had told investigators hired by Fox that Ailes “made unwanted sexual advances toward her” about 10 years ago.

“Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country,” Murdoch said in a statement.

“Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.”

Fox News Channel went on the air in 1996, just before Bill Clinton was elected to a second term as president, with Ailes as founding CEO.

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