NEW YORK >> Fox News Channel said today that co-president Bill Shine is out, the latest high-level departure at a network beset with charges of harassment and discrimination that have already claimed founding CEO Roger Ailes, leading personality Bill O’Reilly and a top financial executive.
Shine was not accused of any direct wrongdoing. But the longtime Ailes lieutenant was considered vulnerable because of claims that he looked the other way as charges of toxic workplace behavior piled up, with some believing that the network would never truly be able to move on without him and other Ailes loyalists.
His leadership experience learned at Ailes’ feet was considered invaluable for the top-rated cable network, and Shine had been named co-president with Jack Abernethy upon Ailes’ departure. Abernethy, who has spent much of his time at Fox working with Fox-owned broadcast stations and not the news channel, remains. Fox also said that it was promoting two other executives, Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace, into more prominent newsroom roles.
In a memo to Fox News staffers, Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of parent company 21st Century Fox, said “sadly, Bill Shine resigned today. I know Bill was respected and liked by everybody at Fox News. We will all miss him.”
“Fox News continues to break both viewing and revenue records, for which I thank you all,” Murdoch wrote. “I am sure we can do even better.”
When New York magazine wrote last week that Shine was possibly in danger, it prompted Fox’s Sean Hannity to leap to his defense on Twitter. Shine began working at Fox with Hannity, whose show is the only remaining prime-time program of Fox’s long-running powerhouse prime-time lineup following O’Reilly’s firing and Megyn Kelly’s departure to NBC News.
If Shine was leaving, “that’s the total end of the FNC as we know it. Done,” Hannity tweeted last week. He had no immediate reaction.
Ailes and O’Reilly have denied the harassment allegations made against them. One of the women who accused Ailes, Julie Roginsky, also blamed Fox’s management for trying to cover up for him in a complaint made to New York City’s Human Rights Commission.
She said that in a meeting in December, Shine told her he didn’t believe the allegations against Ailes until recently. Her lawsuit alleges that Shine and other Fox executives “kept Ailes’s conduct secret and enabled it.”
A lawsuit that accuses Fox’s fired former comptroller, Judith Slater, of racial discrimination, is now up to 13 plaintiffs. Slater denies the charges, but the lawyer who represents the people claiming discrimination has called for Fox to clean house of its management.
Attorney Douglas Wigdor called Shine’s departure “long overdue.” He’s got his eye on more, specifically naming Fox’s top lawyer, Dianne Brandi, as someone who looked the other way while Slater’s behavior continued. Fox has denied the allegations against Brandi.