Rumor has it that Rupert Murdoch and his sons are looking to replace the current co-president of Fox News, Bill Shine, and The Hollywood Reporter‘s sources say they are specifically looking for a female.
The rumors come in the midst of a turbulent time at Fox, after two high-profile ousters — Roger Ailes’ resignation in July 2016 and Bill O’Reilly’s firing this month — triggered by accusations of sexual harassment by women. The idea that the Murdochs are looking to hire a woman as the head of the network, thus, has an obvious public relations angle. THR’s Marisa Guthrie notes that the Murdochs have vowed to foster “a workplace based on the values of respect and trust,” and placing a woman at the top “would send a distinct message given the issues that have been roiling the network.”
The sources indicated that so far the Murdochs have sent out “feelers” externally, but could also be open to elevating someone from within the company.
After being tapped to replace Ailes as the co-president, along with Jack Abernathy, of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Netwok, Shine has come under increased scrutiny. In fact, Guthrie notes that Shine’s elevation to co-president following Ailes’ resignation was unpopular among some in the company, “especially women, who saw Shine as complicit in the sins of the past.”
Guthrie provides some more background on Shine’s alleged connections with various sexual harassment complaints:
Shine has been named in multiple lawsuits targeting the network, along with Ailes and O’Reilly. Andrea Tantaros, a former host on the channel, said in one of her lawsuits that she complained to Shine about sexual harassment at the hands of Ailes and Shine advised her not to cross the then-CEO. Shine has vehemently denied Tantaros’ accusations, which most recently include allegations of digital spying and cyber stalking through sock-puppet social media accounts.
Shine also has been implicated in the saga of Laurie Luhn, a former Fox News booker who has alleged a longtime, emotionally abusive affair with Ailes. As detailed in an explosive New York magazine story, Luhn said that Shine arranged her travel to New York to meet with Ailes, and he also recommended a psychiatrist when she suffered a nervous breakdown. Shine has said he did not know that Ailes and Luhn were engaged in a relationship. His name also has come up in the current racial discrimination class action suit led by anchor Kelly Wright. He is not named in the suit, but Wright claims that Shine “demonstrated an obsession with race.” Shine has denied the allegations.
Like O’Reilly, Shine has consistently denied all allegations of wrongdoing, and some in the company have come to his defense, including Sean Hannity, who gave a forceful defense of the co-president this week.
In response to a New York Magazine article signaling that Shine might be out, Hannity tweeted that he personally knows that someone “high up and inside” the channel is trying to “get an innocent man fired.”
Meanwhile, Mediaite reports on another rumor circulating: that “an alternative conservative network is being actively discussed amongst conservative fat cats.”
A well-placed source close to the proposal tells Mediaite that serious discussions are underway to create an alternative conservative cable network on the belief that the Fox News Network is moving too far to the left. The source, who is engaged in the talks, says a meeting is planned for today with two prominent high-powered television executives, some underperforming conservative networks and people who have an interest and the ability to fund a new network.