Fox News Channel co-president Bill Shine will not remain with the network amid ongoing sexual harassment allegations involving top executives and on-air talent. He will leave the company after helping the transition over the next few weeks, Fox honcho Rupert Murdoch announced on Monday.
Shine, a protégé of ousted network founder Roger Ailes, had been with Fox News for 20 years. He was regarded as a key member of the old regime at Fox News and was promoted to co-president, alongside Jack Abernethy, last year when Ailes stepped down as CEO because of multiple sexual harassment allegations.
To fill the leadership gap, the company announced that current Fox News executives Suzanne Scott has been promoted to president of programming and Jay Wallace to president of news. Abernethy remains Co-President of Fox News and CEO of Fox Television Stations.
Shine has not been accused of sexual harassment himself, but he has been named in several lawsuits for allegations related to harassment or racial discrimination at the network for his knowledge of indiscretions and alleged involvement in punishing those filed complaints. Shine has denied all allegations against him.
Shine is the latest victim in an ongoing purge at the network following top-rated prime-time host Bill O’Reilly’s ouster last week because of similar allegations.
“This is a significant day for all at Fox News. 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,” Murdoch said in a statement.
“Suzanne and Jay are recognized industry leaders. They have both played a large part in assembling the deepest bench of talented broadcasters and journalists. They will lead Fox News to an even more successful future,” Murdoch said.
On Monday, Fox News also promoted Brian Jones to executive vice president of Fox Business Network, where he will report to Scott and Wallace. Amy Listerman started her new role as CFO this week and Human Resources executive vice president Kevin Lord was given additional responsibilities during the shake up.
From a business standpoint, Shine will be remembered as one of the most successful cable news executives of all time. Fox News continued to rule the ratings landscape when Shine and Abernethy took over the network, not missing a beat despite the absence of Ailes.
Shine is also largely responsible for the success of Fox News’ sister, Fox Business Network, which has seen a significant boost since he switched up the network’s programming back in 2014.
However, 21st Century Fox has dealt with a public relations nightmare regarding Fox News, because of harassment allegations aimed at many of the company’s most powerful men. Shine’s departure is proof that the company wants to clean up its image despite ratings success at both FNC and FBN.
Shine is currently a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros. In a lawsuit filed last year, Tantaros claimed she tried to discuss sexual harassment with Shine, but to no avail. According to the suit, Shine told Tantaros that she should not “fight this” and that she “needed to let this one go.”
Tantaros’ lawsuit stated, “Shine’s inexplicable elevation sends the message that it will be ‘business as usual’ at Fox News when it comes to the treatment of women.” A more recent lawsuit by Tantaros accused Fox News of hacking her personal computer and using “sock puppet” social media accounts to harass her online. Shine is a defendant listed on that suit as well.
Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky also filed a lawsuit that lists Shine as a defendant. She claimed Ailes and Shine “unlawfully harassed, discriminated against, and retaliated against Roginsky and sabotaged her career.”
“Shine retaliated against Plaintiff because of her complaints of harassment and retaliation and because Plaintiff refused to malign Gretchen Carlson and join ‘Team Roger’ when Carlson sued Ailes for sexual harassment,” the suit reads.
Former Fox News booker Laurie Luhn has also mentioned Shine when discussing her sexual harassment claims against Ailes. Shine has denied all allegations against him.
Shine recently asked Rupert Murdoch’s sons to release a statement in support of him after O’Reilly was fired, but they declined, according to a report published Thursday by New York magazine editor/reporter Gabe Sherman.
Sherman reported last week that Shine privately complained that the senior Murdoch “isn’t fighting for him” in the press. Rupert’s sons, James and Lachlan, opted not to issue a public statement defending Shine, Sherman wrote, citing anonymous sources within the tight-knit company.
Meanwhile, prime-time host Sean Hannity took to Twitter last Thursday to declare that if Sherman’s report is true, it’s “the total end of the FNC as we know it.” Hannity went on to accuse a Fox News executive of “trying to get an innocent person fired” and started a hashtag to support Shine.
It will be interesting to see how Hannity addresses the situation or if he attempts to bolt the network that is slowly eliminating his longtime colleagues.