Better days: Roger Ailes, left, speaks at a news conference in 1996 after it was announced he would be chairman and CEO of Fox News. 21st Century Fox owner Rubert Murdoch looks on. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/RICHARD DREW
After Fox News chief Roger Ailes was accused of sexual harassment, questions immediately arose over how seriously the network would take the issue. Reports quickly surfaced that Ailes was getting a $40 million golden parachute and would be retained as a “consultant.”
Fox News personalities, including a number of male hosts, spoke up, saying they had never seen the executive harass women privately in his office, as he is accused of doing.
Now, there is another sign that Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, and its owner Rupert Murdoch, are not taking the investigation seriously.
At least one of Ailes’ replacements at the head of the company allegedly knew about the sexual harassment accusations before they publicly surfaced.
Fox announced Friday that Bill Shine will now serve as one of two co-presidents of the channel, managing the forward-facing elements: talent, programming, and newsgathering. But according to former Fox host Andrea Tantaros, Shine was well aware of the Ailes problem before it came to light.
Tarantos, through her lawyer, told New York Magazine that she complained to Shine and other executives “multiple” times about Ailes’ harassment, beginning in 2014.
“She made multiple harassment and hostile-workplace complaints,” the lawyer said. According to the lawyer, her complaints were not followed up on and she was urged to back down.
“Roger is a very powerful man,” Shine allegedly told Tarantos, and added that she “should not fight this.”
Tarantos herself was suspended from the network, which still pays her, in April after a year of complaints, she says. The network says she was suspended for not giving it a chance to vet her book.
Ailes was ousted after Gretchen Carlson, a longtime host of Fox and Friends, sued the executive for sexual harassment at the beginning of July. Ailes resigned two weeks later. Before he left, he allegedly campaigned internally to get high-profile Fox News personalities to publicly support him and question his accusers.
According to Carlson’s attorney, at least a dozen women came forward after the suit was announced, alleging that they, too, had been sexually harassed by the former executive. Among the accusations are that Ailes demanded sexual favors in exchange for advancement at the company.
CNN Money reported that Fox News simultaneously announced that its chief financial officer, Mark Kranz, is retiring, which will raise questions about whether there have been monetary settlements with any previous sexual harassment victims.