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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

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.