Updated with details: Fox News boss Roger Ailes is negotiating his exit, Deadline has confirmed.
Blogger Matt Drudge put up a headline at the top of his popular aggregation website The Drudge Report this afternoon that Ailes will exit the company with a “$40+ million parachute.” There is no link to a story, but a source subsequently told Deadline that Ailes is in exit talks, saying terms of the settlement are being hammered out tonight.
“With internal allegations mounting, it was deemed time for him to go,” the well-placed source said.
21st Century Fox, however, said in a statement: “Roger is at work The review is ongoing. And the only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement.” Ailes lawyer Susan Estrich told Deadline that there was “no deal, no agreement, and we’re in talks right now.”
Ailes’ ouster comes after Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him on July 6 after her contract was not renewed.
Ailes, the architect of the Fox News as a ratings behemoth and political force, in of June 2015, signed a multi-year contract to continue running Fox News, Fox Business Network, and Fox Television Stations. With the 20th anniversary of the highly successful FNC coming up later this year and a Presidential election of surging ratings, Ailes likely thought 2016 was going to be a victory lap. Instead, it has quickly become one of scorched earth.
Earlier this morning, Drudge linked a headline to today’s New York Magazine story, alleging Fox News star Megyn Kelly had told 21st Century Fox’s investigators that she had been the recipient of unwanted sexual advances from Ailes about a decade ago when she was a correspondent in the Washington bureau. But Drudge used a headline saying Kelly was twisting the knife into her boss. That post, and headline, from the wildly popular and influential conservative blogger got media reporters to sit up and take notice.
Investigators had been reaching out to interview former female employees of Fox News, in addition to current staff, and also were looking into whether Ailes had pressured employees to speak out on his behalf, the report said. Ailes reps had vehemently denied the anchors who have spoken out on his behalf were pressured to do to. The list of women who had come forward includes Greta Van Susteren and Mario Bartiromo but notably had not included Kelly, one of the brightest stars at the network.
After Carlson’s lawsuit was filed, Ailes issued a statement calling it “offensive,” “wholly without merit” and saying it will be “defended vigorously.” He later called the suit retaliatory “for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup.” Carlson claimed she was let go for rebuffing his advances and said ratings never were discussed as a cause when she was informed her contract was not being renewed.