The co-president of Fox News is leaving the company amid a sexual harassment scandal that has seen the ouster of both the network's former chief and its biggest primetime star.
Bill Shine, a longtime key lieutenant of former Fox News head Roger Ailes, resigned on Monday, the company announced. Shine had been with Fox since its inception more than 20 years ago. New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman first broke the news on Twitter.
"Bill has played a huge role in building Fox News to its present position as the nation’s biggest and most important cable channel in the history of the industry," Rupert Murdoch, the acting chief of Fox News and the media mogul behind 21st Century Fox, said in a statement.
The exit of Shine, who has steered the network's programming but has been accused in recent lawsuits of helping to cover up a culture of sexual harassment, came as a surprise to many at Fox News. One top network source described the reaction in one word: "shock."
The Murdoch family has been under pressure to deal with the scandal, which began last summer when Ailes was forced out amid allegations of sexual harassment from former network stars (he has denied the claims). Last month, after the New York Times reported that five women had received $13 million in settlements following harassment allegations against Bill O'Reilly, the host was also pushed out during a high-profile advertiser boycott. O'Reilly has denied the allegations.
A low-profile but powerful media executive, Shine's future came under scrutiny amid a spate of lawsuits facing the company, though he has never been accused of sexually harassing behavior himself. In a racial discrimination suit, Fox News anchor Kelly Wright claimed that Shine focused on his skin color and would ask how he thought a white audience viewed him. In another suit, on-air contributor Julie Roginsky claimed that Shine knew of Ailes's behavior but did not act.
Shine's role has been in doubt in recent days as the Murdoch family scrambles to stem the bad press and put the network back on track. Host Sean Hannity defended the executive over the weekend, tweeting that Fox News without Shine would be "the total end of the FNC as we know it."
The network's other co-president, Jack Abernethy, will stay in his role, Fox said on Monday. Suzanne Scott has been promoted to president of programming and Jay Wallace has become president of news. Both are also Fox News veterans that have been at the network since its inception under Ailes.
"They will lead Fox News to an even more successful future," Murdoch said in the statement.