Fox News chairman and CEO and alleged serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes has been fired from the cable news network, multiple sources reported on Tuesday. His ouster is the result of a lawsuit in which former anchor Gretchen Carlson claimed Ailes sexually harassed her and fired her in retaliation after she declined his advances.
Numerous individuals reportedly contacted Carlson’s lawyers after her lawsuit became public. Earlier today, New York reported that Megyn Kelly had told investigators from 21st Century Fox that Ailes had sexually harassed her ten years ago when she was a correspondent at the network.
According to a document obtained by the Drudge Report, Ailes’ official employment separation date will be July 22. After that, he will continue “provide advice and services as requested by KRM, Executive Chairman of 21CF, and continue to act in the Company’s best interests,” until the end of “Term,” which is set to end on June 30, 2017. During that time period, he will continue to be paid his $6.25 million salary in addition to bonuses for 2016 and 2017. All in all, Ailes will be paid over $40 million after being fired.
Some at Fox are refuting that information, however.
The Drudge Report has since deleted the tweet, and replaced its headline with one that reads “AILES FOXNEWS DRAMA,” with the statement, “Roger Ailes has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly. In fact, he has spent much of the last decade promoting and helping her to achieve the stardom she earned, for which she has repeatedly and publicly thanked him.” [Update: This statement is reportedly from Susan Estrich, one of Ailes’ lawyers.]
The 76-year-old held enormous influence over the conservative-leaning cable network, to such a point that a Fox News without Ailes is difficult for some to imagine. “It’s his creation, he built it,” said CBS News president David Rhodes in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year. “I’m not sure anyone else can run it.”
In the same piece, Shepard Smith said, “It’s all about him. Everything you see and feel about, it is from him.” Bill O’Reilly said, “I have no idea how the network would shake out if he wasn’t here.” That being said, Rupert Murdoch and his heirs have reportedly been discussing an opportunity to get rid of Ailes for some time.
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
Update (5:55 p.m.): Gabriel Sherman, national affairs editor at New York magazine, is tweeting reports that Ailes’ office is in chaos.
Update (6:20 p.m.): The Drudge Report has now posted a different statement alleging that Megyn Kelly’s complaint was about a time Ailes hugged her. The statement, pasted below, has no attribution, other than to a Deadline article which circularly quotes the Drudge Report as saying “Kelly twists knife into Ailes” (in other words, his attribution is himself):
KELLY TWISTS KNIFE INTO AILES...
HER SEX COMPLAINT? IN 2006, SHE DID NOT LIKE THE WAY HE HUGGED HER, SOURCE CLAIMS...
EXCLUSIVE: ‘FOX & FRIENDS’ AND ‘THE FIVE’ ANCHORS, GRETA, O’REILLY, HANNITY SET TALENT MEETING TO DISCUSS WALKING OUT ON NEWS NETWORK... DEVELOPING...
But Sherman’s sources dispute Drudge’s headline:
Update (9:10 p.m.): In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Estrich insisted that Ailes and Fox News were still negotiating an agreement. She also said she wasn’t sure where the exit agreement Drudge posted had come from.
Is that draft of a separation agreement that Matt Drudge posted real?
I don’t know. I mean, there are lots of drafts going around. I’m not going to say it wasn’t somebody’s draft. All I can say is it doesn’t reflect the state of play at this time because there is no term sheet, there is no agreement, there is no deal, and the review is ongoing.
Why, if the review is ongoing, would there be an active negotiation for him to leave?
I can’t answer that.
Image via Getty.