Roger Ailes resigns as head of Fox News (Update: Statement from Carlson's attorneys)

Two weeks after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit claiming sexual harassment, Roger Ailes is stepping down at Fox News. A statement about the decision was posted on the 21st Century Fox website:

21st Century Fox today announced that Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Chairman of Fox Television Stations, has resigned from his role effective immediately.

Rupert Murdoch will assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.

The press release included a lengthy statement by Rupert Murdoch praising Ailes. It reads in part:

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.

Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media.

It is always difficult to create a channel or a publication from the ground up and against seemingly entrenched monopolies.  To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds.

No mention is made of the reasons for Ailes stepping down. For his part Ailes released a statement which notes his role in promoting women journalists at the network and goes on to say he will not allow himself to become a distraction. The statement was published by the Drudge Report:

Dear Rupert,

With your support, I am proud that we have built Fox News and Fox Business Channels into powerful and lucrative news organizations that inform our audience and reward our shareholders. 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. 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 our opinion programs…

Having spent 20 years building this historic business, I will not allow my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done every day to ensure that Fox News and Fox Business continue to lead our industry.

This comes about 2 weeks after the lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson alleging sexual harassment by Ailes. Ailes responded strongly to the allegations at the time, claiming they were entirely false. However, since then, a number of other women at the network have reportedly come forward and made similar allegations. One report claimed that Fox News star Megyn Kelly said Ailes had made similar advances toward her early in her career at Fox.

There is another story out today claiming that former Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue is shopping a tell-all memoir about her time in the news business, including her experiences with Roger Ailes:

Dhue—who worked for Fox News as a prominent anchor from 2000 until Ailes dismissed her in 2008, when she was escorted out of the building—was originally planning her book as a novel, I’m told, because of her apprehension over dishing on Ailes and others. But she decided to write a non-fiction account—which will also include her experiences as a producer and on-air personality at CNN and MSNBC, as well as her struggle with and recovery from alcoholism—after Carlson’s lawsuit and other women began to speak out about their treatment by Ailes.

“Ms. Dhue does not intend to comment in the media,” her attorney Bruce Schaeffer, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “She is in the process of writing a book in which she will candidly discuss her years at Fox News and her interactions and communications with Mr. Ailes and many other Fox News personalities, her involuntary departure from Fox News and her lack of success in continuing her career in the television news industry following her departure from Fox News.

Gretchen Carlson reacted to the news somewhat indirectly on Twitter Thursday:

Update: Statement from Carlson’s attorneys: