Roger Ailes, who built Fox News into a money-making ratings powerhouse, has resigned as chairman and chief executive of the popular cable channel following allegations of sexual harassment, according to the company.
The media executive and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, the parent of Fox News, had been in negotiations over his departure, a person briefed on the discussions said on Tuesday.
Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox, will assume the role of chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, the company said.
The exit marks a swift downfall for Ailes, the 76-year-old media executive who advised several U.S. Republican presidents, including George H.W. Bush, and turned Fox News into the most-watched U.S. cable news channel.
Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes earlier this month, claiming sexual harassment. Ailes has denied the charges. Fox hired the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct an internal investigation.
New York magazine followed up with reports of other women who said they had been harassed by Ailes as far back as the 1960s. On Tuesday, the magazine said that popular Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had told investigators hired by Fox that Ailes “made unwanted sexual advances toward her” about 10 years ago.
Ailes, who founded the cable channel in 1996, did not sexually harass Kelly, according to a statement attributed to his lawyer in the New York Times on Tuesday. His lawyers did not respond to questions from Reuters.
(Reporting by Jessica Toonkel and Anna Driver; Editing by Bill Rigby)
Photo: Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News and Fox Television Stations, answers questions during a panel discussion at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena, California July 24, 2006. Picture taken July 24, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/File Photo