Al Jazeera America Taps New CEO Amidst Turmoil

Ehab Al Shihabi

Al Anstey joins the fledgling cable news network as interim CEO Ehab Al Shihabi exits after a two-year tenure.

Ehab Al Shihabi is out at Al Jazeera America. Nearly two years after joining the cable news network as interim CEO, news of the exec's exit broke on Wednesday afternoon. He is replaced immediately by Al Anstey.

The changover comes at a time of turmoil at the network. In addition to low ratings that haven't improved since the 2013 network launch, it is now battling a $15 million lawsuit from a fired employee that alleges one top executive engaged in sexist and anti-Semitic behavior. The immediate fallout included the loss of senior vice president of outreach Marcy McGinnis. In her farewell memo, she noted that she did "not support the decisions or direction" of Al Shihabi.

“I’m also very proud to be able to lead a fantastic team at Al Jazeera America who are dedicated to the highest quality storytelling," Anstey said in a press release. "I am committed to engaging the team and uplifting our collective ambitions, as a much needed channel for American audiences."

Anstey comes from within the company, joining Al Jazeera ten years ago and most recently serving as managing director of Al Jazeera English since 2010.

As for Al Shihabi, he started the week off defending the network against the lawsuit and the resulting media pile-on. “Al Jazeera America does not tolerate any discriminatory conduct and we take great pride in the diversity of our organization and its leadership," he said. "The recent attacks on us as being anti-Semitic, sexist and anti-American are absurd. Al Jazeera America’s values are based on the highest ethical standards and professionalism. Integrity and respect guide our conduct internally and externally."