Roger Ailes, the political and media mastermind who launched Fox News with Rupert Murdoch two decades ago, may soon lose his position atop the cable news giant amid sexual harassment accusations.
New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, the author of a critical 2014 biography of Ailes, reported Monday that Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James ― the top executives at parent company 21st Century Fox ― “have settled on removing” Ailes in light of an ongoing investigation into charges leveled by former “Fox & Friends” co-host Gretchen Carlson.
Citing “two sources briefed” on the allegations, Sherman reports:
After reviewing the initial findings of the probe, James Murdoch is said to be arguing that Ailes should be presented with a choice this week to resign or face being fired. Lachlan is more aligned with their father, who thinks that no action should be taken until after the GOP convention this week. Another source confirms that all three are in agreement that Ailes needs to go.
After Carlson filed a lawsuit earlier this month claiming Ailes made sexual advances and harassed her during her 11-year tenure at the network, six other women have made similar accusations. Several Fox News stars have defended Ailes, along with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“This matter is not yet resolved and the review is not concluded,” A 21st Century Fox spokesman said. Fox News referred requests for comment to 21st Century Fox.
Given that Ailes created Fox News in his image, it’s hard to imagine the network without him. The former political operative, who advised three Republican presidents, built the conservative cable network into a media powerhouse, with revenue in excess of $1 billion and ratings long exceeding its rivals. Though 76, Ailes has continued to wield power and has not groomed a successor.
Over the last year, the Murdoch brothers have been modernizing the media empire built by their father ― with the notable exception of Fox News. Though they had tensions with Ailes, The New York Times reported Sunday they’ve left the network alone because of its continued ratings dominance and because the Fox News CEO “has little interest in corporate oversight.”
Rupert, James and Lachlan are having daily conversations about the Ailes issue, according to the Times.
“Given the importance of Fox News to the company, the high profile of Mr. Ailes and the seriousness of the allegations,” the paper reported, “the Murdochs want to make sure impartial and thorough consideration is given to the matter.