Roger Ailes is negotiating his exit from Fox News, according to media reports. A lawsuit alleges that the Fox News chairman sexually harassed a star host, and new allegations have emerged about several other employees.
Roger Ailes has begun discussing terms for stepping down as chairman of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
Rupert Murdoch and sons Lachlan and James are reported to have discussed the departure of the 76-year-old Ailes.
The Journal and New York Times quoted sources who claimed to have information on the future of Ailes, a longtime Murdoch ally who faces accusations of sexual harassment. The Daily Beast reported that Fox had initially confirmed that Ailes had negotiated a deal to leave, but "subsequently walked back that confirmation." The online Drudge Report posted a tweet about an exit package worth $40 million (36 million euros) for Ailes, but moments later deleted it.
Officials from the parent company denied that any deal was in the making. "Roger is at work," Twenty-First Century Fox. claimed in response. "The review is ongoing. The only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement."
On July 6, Fox News announced a review of allegations in a lawsuit by ex-host and former Miss America Gretchen Carlson, who said Ailes had fired her for rejecting his sexual advances. The lawsuit alleges that the chairman had forced Carlson out following a meeting during which he told her that "you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago." Carlson said Fox News had nourished an atmosphere of harassment, and the broadcaster did not renew her contract when it ended last month.
'Promoting and helping'
Murdoch's sons have taken a larger role in Fox's operations since the 85-year-old tycoon announced that he would gradually relinquish control of his corporate empire.
New York Magazine reported that Ailes had received the option of resigning or getting fired this week. The former consultant to Republican presidents had served Murdoch faithfully after rising to become a key figure in his media empire, which includes News Corp.
Attributing again to anonymous sources, on Tuesday New York reported that the news reader Megyn Kelly had told investigators working for Twenty-First Century Fox that Ailes had sexually harassed her 10 years ago. A representative for Ailes quickly denied that.
"Roger Ailes has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly," lawyer Susan Estrich said in a statement released late Tuesday. "In fact, he has spent much of the last decade promoting and helping her achieve the stardom she earned - for which she has repeatedly and publicly thanked him."
Kelly's agent did not return requests for comment from news agencies on Tuesday. At least half a dozen other women have come forward alleging that Ailes had pressured them for sex, with their stories all predating the start of Fox News Channel in 1996.
mkg/jm (AFP, AP)