Roger Ailes Resigns as Chairman and CEO of Fox News Network Amid Gretchen Carlson Lawsuit
By Desiree Murphy
Roger Ailes has officially resigned as CEO and Chairman of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Chairman of Fox Television Stations.
The 76-year-old businessman's resignation became effective immediately on Thursday. Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox, will now assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, according to CBS News.
The news comes less than a month after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson left the network after 11 years and filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. According to court documents obtained by ET, Carlson alleges Ailes had "sabotaged her career" because she "refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment." Ailes has denied the allegations.
Upon hearing news of Ailes' resignation, Carlson's legal team released the following statement to ET:
"Within two weeks of her filing a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, Gretchen Carlson's extraordinary courage has caused a seismic shift in the media world. We hope that all businesses now understand that women will no longer tolerate sexual harassment and reputable companies will no longer shield those who abuse women. We thank all the brave women who spoke out about this issue. We will have more to say in coming days as events unfold."
Murdoch also released a statement, praising Ailes for the "remarkable" contributions to "our company and country."
"Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years," the statement read. "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," the statement continued. "To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds. His grasp of policy and his ability to make profoundly important issues accessible to a broader audience stand in stark contrast to the self-serving elitism that characterizes far too much of the media."
"I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice," it concluded. "Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country. 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, with the support of our existing management team under Bill Shine, Jay Wallace and Mark Kranz."
A source tells ET that the newsroom has been "extremely tense" ever since an email addressing Ailes' exit was sent to employees at 4:13 p.m. ET on Thursday.
"[There's] many unhappy people -- some are starting to freak out about their jobs," the source revealed. "The future is very uncertain right now."
In that email to employees, which came from Murdoch's sons, Lachlan and James, the Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of 21st Century Fox, respectively, colleagues were asked to "please see today's announcement about the resignation of Roger Ailes."
"We join our father in recognizing Roger's remarkable contributions to our company," the body of the message read. "Our talented Fox News and Fox Business colleagues, up and down the organization and on both sides of the camera, have built something that continues to redefine the cable news experience for millions of viewers. We are enormously proud of their accomplishments."
"For them, as well as for our colleagues across our entire organization, we continue our commitment to maintaining a work environment based on trust and respect," the email continued. "We take seriously our responsibility to uphold these traditional, long-standing values of our company."
At the time of her leaving her post, 50-year-old Carlson announced her exit via social media, writing, "As you may have heard, I am no longer with Fox News," she shared via Twitter and Facebook. "I value your support and friendship, especially now, so please stay in touch with me."
As previously reported, Ailes denied Carlson's claims against him at the time, releasing the following statement to ET:
"Gretchen Carlson's allegations are false. This is a retaliatory suit for the network's decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously."