MUMBAI: The Murdoch family-promoted 21st Century Fox has announced Roger Ailes has stepped down as chairman and CEO of Fox News and resigned from Fox Business Network and Fox Television Stations, effective immediately.
Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox, will assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.
It’s a stunning fall for Ailes, a long time political operative and Murdoch ally, who is credited with building Fox News and leading the cable channel to ratings dominance.
In a statement released to the media last week, Rupert Murdoch said: “I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice. Our nation (the US) needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country.”
Murdoch will be assisted in running the Fox businesses by existing management team under Bill Shine, Jay Wallace and Mark Kranz.
Ailes, 76, was in the eye of the storm having been accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson.
Though Ailes has vigorously denied Carlson's claims, Fox News launched an internal investigation. The developments, critics and media observers claim, was a result of public and political pressure and perception.
"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," the company statement quoted Murdoch as saying.
In a letter to Murdoch, released by a publicist, Ailes said, "I am proud of our accomplishments and look forward to continuing to work with you as an adviser in building 21st Century Fox.”
“We join our father in recognizing Roger's remarkable contributions to our company," a joint statement from Murdoch’s two sons, Lachlan and James, said. The sons are in charge in charge of Fox News.
Ailes began his television career in the early 1960s as a producer at The Mike Douglas Show in Cleveland, and went onto serve as media consultant for several Republican presidents, including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
“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 to Murdoch, adding that many of these talented journalists have deservedly become household names known for their intelligence and strength whether reporting the news, fair and balanced, and offering exciting opinions on opinion programmes.
In his defence, Ailes further stated in the letter that Fox News has become No. 1 in all of cable because he “identified and promoted the most talented men and women in television, and they performed at the highest levels."
In 1996, Murdoch, seeing a market for a conservative cable news outlet, hired Ailes to create Fox News. And Ailes moulded the network to run like a political campaign operation with primetime shows that were unabashedly conservative and hosts who openly espoused Republican talking points.
The network eventually unseated CNN as the highest rated cable news network and became one of the most popular cable networks of all genres, reaching more than 90 million households.
"It is always difficult to create a channel or a publication from the ground up and against seemingly entrenched monopolies," Murdoch Sr. said, adding, "To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds."