Fox News Pays Ousted Executive Brian Lewis $8 Million in 'Hush Money' (Report)
UPDATED: "That whole financial impropriety thing was complete bullshit," a Fox News insider tells Gawker. But an attorney representing Fox News says "Gawker and others are substantially and materially wrong in every aspect."
Brian Lewis, a former top executive at Fox News Channel, reportedly has been paid $8 million in severance after his firing in July.
Lewis was hired by Fox News chief Roger Ailes before the network launched 17 years ago, and he worked his way up to executive vp and a spokesman for Ailes. However, as The Hollywood Reporter reported exclusively four months ago, Lewis was let go for “financial irregularities” as well as “multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract.”
Since that report, rumors have swirled that Lewis also was suspected of helping Gabe Sherman a little bit too much with his upcoming, unauthorized biography of Ailes, which is expected to be an unflattering look at both Ailes and Fox News.
On Monday, Gawker said that the $8 million Fox News paid to Lewis was “hush money,” since Lewis’ attorney had previously said that News Corp., the former parent of Fox News, had “a lot more to fear from Brian Lewis telling the truth about them than Brian Lewis has to fear from Roger Ailes and his toadies telling lies about Brian Lewis.”
Gawker said the $8 million figure came from an insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The insider said that the upcoming Sherman book divided Fox News into two public-relations camps: Camp 1 advocated radio silence and Camp 2, led by Lewis, advocated engaging with Sherman.
“The day the first camp won Roger over was the day Brian became an enormous liability,” the insider said.
“That whole financial impropriety thing was complete bullshit,” the insider said. “Everything was about Gabe Sherman.”
Early Tuesday, Barry Asen, an attorney representing Fox News said: "It's been known for some time that a separation agreement existed between Fox News and Brian Lewis. However, the financial terms of that agreement and the stories surrounding it as reported by Gawker and others are substantially and materially wrong in every aspect."
Meanwhile, the progressive watchdog group Media Matters for America, which often attacks Fox News for allegedly slanting news to make the political left look bad, was touting both the Gawker story and Sherman’s book on Monday.
“As suspected, the network was reportedly livid about Sherman’s upcoming book, The Loudest Voice in the Room: How Roger Ailes and Fox News Remade American Politics, which has driven a wedge in the network’s public relations team,” Media Matters said on its website Monday. “Fox News has been heavily invested in attacking Sherman for well over a year in an apparent attempt to discredit his book ahead of its publication in January.”