Chaos: Fox News co-president Bill Shine resigns; Update: Hannity looking to leave? Update: New network wooing Hannity?
Shine hasn’t been accused of sexual harassment, but as Roger Ailes’s “right-hand man” since the network launched in 1996, he has been accused — repeatedly — of helping to create the culture at the network that let Ailes and O’Reilly allegedly operate with impunity for decades.
[Q]uestions have swirled about how much Shine knew about the allegations against Ailes.
No one has accused Shine of harassing behavior — but some ex-employees have accused him of covering up the alleged wrongdoings of others.
Shine has been named in at least four lawsuits or allegations related to alleged sexual harassment or racial discrimination at the network.
One of the most recent lawsuits to name Shine was filed by Fox contributor Julie Roginsky, who accused him of “aiding and abetting” Ailes’s harassment of her. Fox is also facing a racial discrimination lawsuit which includes plaintiffs as prominent as anchor Kelly Wright. And Shine might not be the last to go:
A source inside Fox told Gabriel Sherman that recently “there was talk among Fox News women about circulating a petition inside the network calling for Shine’s firing,” potentially a huge PR hit to the network as it tries to clean up the Ailes/O’Reilly mess. Maybe that explains why the Murdochs moved when they did to force Shine out. Or maybe there was a power play by someone else high up. Four days ago, when Sherman tweeted that Shine had allegedly asked the Murdochs for a public statement of support and been rebuffed, Sean Hannity surprised everyone by replying:
And then, ominously, he tweeted this about the prospect of Shine leaving. Is Shine’s firing going to trigger an exodus of old-school talent from Fox?
That new conservative news network Ailes is allegedly a part of could end up with O’Reilly at 8 and Hannity at 9! Meanwhile, the new president of programming at FNC is Suzanne Scott, another original Fox executive. Having a woman at the top of the food chain will help the network reshape its image — in theory. In practice, Fox might be headed for another PR nightmare:
Scott was also mentioned in Roginsky’s lawsuit as part of the toxic culture that enabled Ailes’s harassment of her. Imagine if, having replaced Shine to avoid the spectacle of Fox News women circulating a petition to have him fired, the Murdochs are eventually confronted with a petition to have Scott fired instead.
One thought: Was Shine partially a victim of Fox’s success? Throughout all of this upheaval — the Ailes scandal, Megyn Kelly leaving, O’Reilly being canned, the racial discrimination suit, now Shine departing — Fox’s ratings have remained gold-plated. Tucker Carlson has moved from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. in a matter of months and continues to pile up viewers. Fox is debuting a new show today at 5 p.m. to replace “The Five,” which has moved to 9 amid the chaos, and that’ll probably do gangbusters business as well. To all appearances, the network is invulnerable to scandal and personnel changes; it’s the Fox brand as America’s lone major conservative news outlet and the loudest pro-Trump voice on television that seems to command the loyalty of viewers more so than any anchor. If ratings had slipped after Ailes or Kelly left, the Murdochs might have thought twice about removing Shine, fearing that losing someone who had helped perfect the formula for success would lead to overall ratings decline. But Fox’s viewers probably aren’t going anywhere because, realistically, they have nowhere else to go. So why not get rid of Shine, and even Scott if need be? The goose can continue to lay golden eggs without them.
Update: Uh oh.
After his tweets last week, you have to believe the Murdochs talked this through with Hannity before pulling the trap door on Shine. Although, as I say, Fox can probably weather any loss, he’s the biggest name at the network now and the lone major remaining on-air tie to the network’s past. If he leaves, Fox will look completely different from how it used to even though the politics will remain the same.
Update: Gotta be a bluff. Where would Hannity go?
Sean Hannity is looking to leave Fox News, according to sources, following the resignation of Fox News co-president Bill Shine officially on Monday…
“The network now belongs to the Murdoch sons,” another Fox insider said after learning that Shine was gone.
One insider speculates that the negotiations could end this week and Hannity might be out by Friday. Another said his final show could even be tonight or Tuesday evening, given Shine’s Monday resignation.
Update: Boy, that escalated quickly. A source associated with that mysterious new conservative news network that’s supposedly in the works tells Mediaite that they’re following this Hannity situation closely:
“I’m working on it (the new conservative channel) hot and heavy. . . It’s live, it’s real.” We are told by two sources involved, that the meeting Friday led to even more confidence that the network will soon become a reality.
Now, with the announcement that Fox news co-President Bill Shine is “resigning” from Fox News, there is a newfound focus on Fox talent and in particular, Sean Hannity, the last remaining original star from the Fox News lineup…
“I just don’t see Fox News and Sean having a long relationship. If Sean becomes available, you have 100 percent turnover in primetime and a huge opportunity,”
Update: Fox PR emailed to clarify that Suzanne Scott isn’t “replacing” Bill Shine as president of programming. She’s being elevated, but she’s not co-president of the network, as Shine was. Duly noted. I tweaked that bit above.