Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who is currently facing numerous accusations of sexual harassment by a growing number of current and former employees, is reportedly—reportedly!—departing the channel, which he founded in October 1996 and has helmed for the past 19 years. This morning, Gabriel Sherman of New York magazine reported that Fox News’ star anchor, Megyn Kelly, had told investigators hired by 21st Century Fox that her boss had sexually harassed her approximately ten years ago, when she still worked at Fox. In the same piece, Sherman claimed that attorneys for 21st Century Fox had given Ailes an ultimatum: “Resign or face being fired for cause” by August 1 of this year.
On Twitter, Drudge simultaneously published what appears to be the first page of Ailes’ separation agreement with Fox News and 21st Century Fox:
The language in the document indicates that Ailes would receive a $6.25 million over the next year, plus $40.76 million in various bonuses. The document, whose authenticity has not yet been verified, also shows that, until mid-2017, the person to whom the document refers “will provide advice and services as requested by KRM, Executive Chairman of 21CF, and continue to act in the Company’s best interests.” The initials “KRM” refer to Rupert Murdoch, whose given name is Keith Rupert Murdoch.
Shortly after publishing the document, NPR’s media reporter, David Folkenflik, appeared to corroborate (without necessarily confirming) Drudge’s scoop:
Roger Ailes being ousted as chairman/CEO of Fox News, two sources at Fox News channel tell NPR. No official confirmation to NPR yet.— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) July 19, 2016
The Daily Beast, meanwhile, appeared to obtain official confirmation from 21st Century Fox. But then the company suddenly revoked it, writing: “Fox initially confirmed Drudge’s report to The Daily Beast, and subsequently walked back that confirmation.” The site also noted that, sometime between Drudge’s initial report and tweet and Fox’s change of mind, Drudge revised his homepage:
The smaller text reads, “STATEMENT: ‘Roger Ailes has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly. In fact, he has spent the last decade promoting and helping her to achieve the stardom she earned, for which she has repeatedly and publicly thanked him.’” CNN reporter Dylan Byers later clarified that the statement came from Ailes’s personal attorney, Susan Estrich.
Around the same time Fox “walked back” their confirmation of Ailes’ departure, Drudge deleted the tweet containing Roger Ailes’ apparent separation agreement. The only tweet remaining on his account is one depicting Megyn Kelly (which we’re embedding below as a screenshot in the likely event that he deletes it, too):
A few minutes later, 21st Century Fox published a statement that appeared to address Drudge’s headline:
21CF statement: Roger is at work. The review is ongoing. The only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement.— 21st Century Fox (@21CF) July 19, 2016
Which probably means: Ailes is still at Fox News, but he might not be soon. Around the same time as 21st Century Fox’s statement, the New York Times published a longer article claiming that, “Roger Ailes and 21st Century Fox are in the advanced stages of discussions that would lead to the departure of Mr. Ailes as chairman of Fox News Channel.” The paper cited “a person briefed on the discussions.”
Sherman’s post came slightly over a week after former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes in a New Jersey court. In the original complaint, Carlson alleged that Ailes had repeatedly asked for sexual favors and physically humiliated her in front of other Fox employees. The litigation drew condemnation from many of Carlson’s former colleagues, who defended their boss, but also moved several other women—including Megyn Kelly—to publicly discuss their own interactions with Ailes. Attorneys for Ailes have argued that Carlson must submit to private arbitration, according to the terms of her contract.