21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch held a series of meetings this afternoon with Fox News staffers, dozens of whom are here in Cleveland covering the Republican National Convention. With the swift culmination of the Roger Ailes sexual harassment investigation resulting in the departure of the Fox News and Fox Business chairman, Murdoch wanted everyone to know he is now in charge.
“He thanked us for all the work we were doing. And he said it’s been a difficult 10 days or so, and he said, ‘I’m here and I’m in charge,'” Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren told TVNewser not long after the news broke. “Everybody likes him, everybody respects him,” she said of the 85-year-old media mogul who last year ceded much control of 21st Century Fox to his two sons James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox and Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairman of the company.
Van Susteren and colleagues working out of the Fox newsroom at the Cleveland Convention Center gathered to listen to Murdoch’s announcement by phone. “The staff is so busy here. We needed, like, 10 minutes to stop and listen to his message, but then we got back to work,” she said. Most of Fox News’s programming is originating from Cleveland this week, which, ironically, is where Roger Ailes got his start in TV in 1962.
Other than Ailes leaving the channel he co-founded nearly 20 years ago, Van Susteren said Murdoch told staffers, “he will be keeping things status quo.”
“There’s no change, except that Roger won’t be there,” Van Susteren said.
When asked who she thought might be next in line to lead the channel when Murdoch steps back, Van Susteren said, “I have no idea,” adding, “This company, for the last 5 years, has been run by Bill Shine. Everybody respects Bill Shine.” Shine is senior EVP and head of programming for Fox News. He is a 20-year veteran, joining in 1996 as senior producer of Hannity & Colmes.
As for her personal feelings about Ailes, who hired her away from CNN in 2002, the lawyer-turned-TV host said, “I went through a lot of change at CNN. And change is hard sometimes.”
On July 6, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. That suit led to an outside investigation commissioned by 21st Century Fox. Investigators questioned employees (“everyone” one insider put it to me) several of whom, including the network’s biggest female star Megyn Kelly, reportedly claimed to have been subject to unwanted sexual advances by Ailes over the years.