Bill Shine, co-president of Fox News and former right-hand man to Roger Ailes, resigned on Monday following renewed public outcry over the sexual harassment allegations that have publicly plagued Fox News for over a year.
Shine, who became co-president after the departure of Ailes, has been accused of knowingly covering up sexual harassment allegations, enabling a corporate culture that has now become notorious for allegedly demeaning and abusing female employees. Shine has been personally named in at least four sexual harassment or racial discrimination lawsuits.
The other co-president, Jack Abernethy, will remain in his job, and Shine’s responsibilities will be largely absorbed by Suzanne Scott, new president of programming, and Jay Wallace, new president of news.
Scott, who has been at the network since its inception, has also been explicitly named in sexual harassment lawsuits. Specifically she has been accused of covering up for former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, at one point even allegedly recruiting Fox employees to criticize Gretchen Carlson in an effort to discredit any allegations she might make about Ailes. Ailes was ousted nine months ago with a $40 million severance package after former news anchor Gretchen Carlson found a way around Fox’s secret arbitration clause, publicly exposing Ailes as an accused serial sexual harasser and abuser.
Fox News star Bill O’Reilly was forced out of Fox News two weeks ago after widespread national condemnation over sexual harassment allegations led to more than 70 companies pulling their advertisements from The O’Reilly Factor. Despite having to settle at least six cases of sexual harassment, O’Reilly’s contract had been renewed earlier this year for an additional four years.
Shine’s resignation comes as the Murdoch family, owners of Fox News’s parent company 21st Century Fox, attempt to acquire British satellite and cable company, Sky. Under British regulations, the Murdochs must prove that they are “fit and proper” media owners, a standard that the allegations at Fox News threatened to undermine.
In addition to violating British media standards, the consistent sexual harassment allegations put 21st Century Fox in a difficult legal position in the United States. If there does not continue to be major changes in the leadership at Fox News, it will be very difficult for the company to argue that they are complying Title VII in doing everything possible to create a non-hostile work environment for women, opening them up to serious legal liability should the allegations continue. In addition, there is a federal investigation into whether or not 21st Century Fox properly reported paying settlements to Ailes’ accusers.
Media Resources: CNN Money 5/2/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 4/11/17, 4/21/17;