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Fox News co-president Bill Shine is out at the cable news empire. The move comes as Shine was due back Monday after two days out of the office for a pre-planned long weekend.
Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox and Fox News executive chairman, made the announcement Monday via a brief email to Fox News staffers.
“Sadly, Bill Shine resigned today,” wrote Murdoch in a memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “I know Bill was respected and liked by everybody at Fox News. We will all miss him.”
Suzanne Scott becomes president of programming and Jay Wallace has been promoted to president of news. Scott had been Shine’s second-in-command in programming and has been with the network since it began in 1996. Additionally, Fox Business Network executive vp Brian Jones becomes president of the network, reporting to Scott and Wallace.
The Murdochs had recently quietly put out external feelers for a new head of Fox News and were known to be looking for a woman, which would send a clear message given the cloud of sexism the network has been under since last summer when Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit opened the floodgates of similar accusations against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes as well as network star Bill O’Reilly. But multiple media observers note that Scott does not represent a break from the past nor the clean slate many women at Fox News have been agitating for.
In a media release announcing the executive shuffle, Murdoch also said: “This is a significant day for all at Fox News. Bill has played a huge role in building Fox News to its present position as the nation’s biggest and most important cable channel in the history of the industry. His contribution to our channel and our country will resonate for many years.”
Shine has been accused of covering up incidents of sexual harassment of Ailes, his former boss, who was ousted from the network last summer after Carlson’s lawsuit against him. (Shine has denied the allegations.) Since Ailes‘ abrupt departure, he has served as co-president of Fox News Channel alongside Jack Abernethy — but his roots at the company are much deeper, as was his work with O’Reilly.
Shine, who had been with FNC since its 1996 launch, has most famously been the top player in the cable network’s programming division. He first served as senior vp, ultimately becoming senior executive vp before his current expanded role.
While in programming, Shine was the point person on the familiar, fiery conservative commentary that made its primetime a ratings winner. He was the executive in charge of O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and former staffer Greta Van Susteren.
Shine was also named in former Fox News personality Andrea Tantaros’ lawsuit against network executives, which claimed that Fox News “operated like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult.”
Hannity, a friend and colleague of Shine’s, took to Twitter on Thursday to defend the network co-president, fearing the “end of the FNC as we know it” without Shine. Murdoch took Shine and Abernethy to lunch in Manhattan on April 24, for what appeared to be a very public show of support. But since then the pressure has only mounted on Shine; most recently, his name came up in a class action racial discrimination suit led by Fox News anchor Kelly Wright.
Still, Shine has his defenders at the channel, who describe him as a gregarious executive who rose through the ranks. And the distinction between the programming and news divisions was always said to be an important one at Ailes‘ Fox News Channel. By lumping its right-leaning talking heads into Shine’s programming division, news programs could define themselves by the network’s “fair and balanced” motto.
Wallace was promoted to executive vp, news and editorial in early 2016, and successfully guided the network’s election coverage, which included Chris Wallace (no relation) being tapped to moderate the final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Shine’s move into a more overarching role at the company, one that saw him reporting directly to Murdoch, put him in charge of production and talent management. The latter area of his purview has been the biggest complication for Shine, as O’Reilly’s contract renegotiation earlier this year was done with knowledge of the recent sexual harassment claims that eventually got O’Reilly kicked off the network. Shine has denied all of the allegations against him and he was known to have been a vocal advocate of keeping O’Reilly.
Shine’s departure is the fourth big exit to rock Fox News since 2016, including Megyn Kelly’s defection to NBC News, where she will host a morning program and a primetime newsmagazine.
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