Ailes quits as Fox News chief amid sexual harassment claims by Kelly, Carlson

Ailes has served as chairman and CEO of Fox News since the network's launch in October 1996.
By Doug G. Ware   |   Updated July 22, 2016 at 9:07 AM
| License Photo

NEW YORK, July 21 (UPI) -- After days of speculation about his future with the network, embattled Fox News Channel chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has resigned his position effective immediately.

FNC's parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced Ailes' resignation Thursday.

Recent reports said Ailes and the network had been negotiating the terms of his departure, following claims of sexual harassment by two of the outlet's popular newswomen -- Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson.

"Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country," Fox founder Rupert Murdoch said in a statement Thursday. "Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years."

Ailes' resignation is effective immediately, the company said. He had also served in the same capacity for the Fox Business Network and was chairman for the Fox television group.

Ailes, 76, receives credit for building FNC, launched in October 1996, into one of the nation's most-watched television news channels. Before Thursday, he had been the network's only chief executive.

"To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds," Murdoch said.

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly prepares to moderate a Republican presidential debate on Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Ia. Thursday, the network announced that CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes had resigned from his 20-year executive post on the heels of sexual harassment claims by Kelly and former anchor Gretchen Carlson. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

However, the claims by Kelly and Carlson, which asserted Ailes had sexually harassed them in some fashion in the past, were apparently too great for the executive to overcome.

"We continue our commitment to maintaining a work environment based on trust and respect," Murdoch's executive sons, Lachlan and James, said in the statement. "We take seriously our responsibility to uphold these traditional, long-standing values of our company."

On July 6, Carlson filed a lawsuit claiming that she was effectively fired last month as retaliation for her resisting past sexual advances by Ailes. She also claimed that Ailes cut down her television appearances and slashed her salary over the matter, as well.

Kelly, arguably the network's most popular personality, reportedly told independent investigators this month that Ailes had harassed her in the past. The investigators were part of a New York firm's inquiry into the claims.

Other prominent female TV personalities, though, have defended AIles in recent days -- including Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and Greta Van Susteren.

Ailes' legal team has denied the allegations and said Ailes didn't sexually harass anyone, and instead claimed Carlson's departure was driven by poor ratings -- a point the newswoman strongly disputed in her lawsuit.

Carlson posted a video online Wednesday saying victims of sexual harassment should not be silenced.

A spokesperson for Ailes told a New York television station Thursday that the former CEO sent a letter to Murdoch offering to serve as an adviser to the network.

"I am proud that we have built Fox News and Fox Business Channels into powerful and lucrative news organizations," the letter said. "I will not allow my presence to become a distraction."

"I am proud of our accomplishments and look forward to continuing to work with you as an adviser in building 21st Century Fox," he added.

Rupert Murdoch said in his statement Thursday that he himself will serve as Ailes' replacement, although it wasn't clear whether that will be on an interim or permanent basis.

"I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice. Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country," he said. "To ensure continuity of all that is best about Fox News and what it stands for, I will take over as Chairman and acting CEO."

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more news from UPI.com
Related UPI Stories
share with facebook
share with twitter
Trending Stories