Roger Ailes has resigned as the chairman and CEO of Fox News, its parent company 21st Century Fox announced this afternoon. His departure comes after a protracted separation process sparked by a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson.
In a press release regarding Ailes leaving the network, Rupert Murdoch said that he will be taking over as chairman and acting CEO. In a letter to Murdoch obtained by Matt Drudge, Ailes said he chose to resign so he would not be a distraction at the company:
Having spent 20 years building this historic business, I will not allow my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done every day to ensure that Fox News and Fox Business continue to lead our industry. I am confident that everyone at Fox News and Fox Business will continue as the standard setters that they are, and that the businesses are well positioned for even greater success in the future.
Alas, that ship had long since sailed. Running parallel to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was the drama surrounding the party’s mouthpiece network. The inevitability of Ailes’ departure seemed to crystalize on Monday, and on Tuesday Drudge Tweeted—and then deleted—a purported severance agreement between Ailes and the network. Fox pushed back on reports that Ailes was being fired, instead allowing him today’s auspiciously dignified exit.
After Carlson filed her sexual harassment suit, which alleged that she had been shuffled off to an undesirable time slot after accusing Ailes of being a creep, dozens more women came forward—including several publicly—accusing Ailes of having harassed them as far back as the 1960s. That roster of alleged victims grew to include Fox star Megyn Kelly, who reportedly told company lawyers this week that Ailes had made sexual advances towards her several years back. This in turn reportedly caused a rift between the sizable pro-Ailes faction at Fox—including high-profile talent such as Brett Baier and Sean Hannity—and his accusers still in the company’s employ, which may not be repaired upon Ailes’ exit.
At least one Fox man responded to the news with despair:
Oh the grotesque unfairness of life— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) July 21, 2016