Michael Clemente, a former executive vice president at Fox News has been let go tonight. According to CNN, Clemente’s departure is not related to the sexual harassment scandal that forced CEO Roger Ailes to resign last week.
Michael Clemente, a longtime executive vice president of News at Fox who was effectively demoted earlier this year, has left the network, spokespeople confirmed. Peter Boyer, a former New Yorker writer who recently served as Clemente’s number two, has also left.
Network insiders say the move was unrelated to the recent sexual harassment allegations surrounding Ailes, though it’s also true that Clemente showed no signs of leaving the network prior to the scandal.
So why would a guy who supposedly has nothing to do with the sexual harassment scandal and who had already been sidelined suddenly get the axe almost before the door had stopped swinging from Ailes’ departure?
Now, it could be because Clemente got word that he will definitely not be replacing Ailes. However, according to New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, that message had already been delivered to Clemente in a corporate shakeup in April.
But another paragraph in that same New York article may have a clue:
One Fox anchor told me that Ailes suspected Clemente of leaking to the press over the past year. Inside Fox, where executives use burner phones because they fear their corporate lines are monitored, there’s not much worse than being labeled a leaker. Another mark against Clemente is that he had a relationship with Rupert Murdoch. Ailes is said to dislike executives who build up independent power bases, and talking to Murdoch, Ailes’s boss, would be seen as a threat. Lastly, Clemente, a former ABC News executive, never fully shed the stigma that he was an outsider. (Politically, he’s a centrist). His replacement, Jay Wallace, is a longtime Fox executive, who’s risen up through the ranks over the past decade.
Could Clemente have been a source for some of the reporting about sexual harassment at the network? About some of the findings of the outside investigation, such as Megyn Kelly telling the investigators that she had been harassed by Ailes?
Whatever the reason, this has got to be causing more tremors in an already shaken network. Yesterday, I quoted Sherman on CNN when he noted that the guy who is now in line for succession to the Ailes throne, Bill Shine, was part of a cover up of the harassment at Fox. I also quoted CNN’s Dylan Byers when he said the following:
BYERS: If you’re starting to talk about getting rid of Bill—you know, Bill Shine, Jay Wallace, Michael Clemente, all of those figures, you’re running into a situation where you really have no one who knows how to run this network on a day-to-day basis.
Earlier today, Sherman tweeted that Shine has retained a lawyer.
Crossposted at News Hounds.
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