When Roger Ailes history of sexual harassment came to light just a few short weeks ago, the media world was stunned. Yes, there had been rumors, but nothing concrete. Response was fast and furious as dozens of women lined up to share their stories, some going back decades. Under intense pressure from the public, Roger Ailes was forced out of Fox News and Rupert Murdoch was on the hunt for his replacement.
After decades of a white perverted old man running the show, Murdoch should have known to find a woman or at least an outsider to come in and clean up Ailes' mess. But hey, why do that when you can promote a few of Ailes' own minions?
Author of the Ailes tell-all "The Loudest Voice in the Room," Gabriel Sherman, writes in NY Magazine that Murdoch divided Ailes’s job into two "co-President" positions. CEO Jack Abernethy will be in charge of the business side while Bill Shine will oversee content and talent. Both men have been with Fox News under the direction of Roger Ailes for at least 20 years.
Shine’s promotion is perhaps the most surprising given that he’s been the subject of intense media scrutiny since Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against Ailes on July 6. His elevation seems to signal that Rupert Murdoch, contrary to some speculation, intends to maintain Ailes’s brand of programming. As I’ve reported previously, Shine enthusiastically promoted Ailes’s right-wing agenda (he was formerly Sean Hannity’s producer) and assisted in Ailes’s PR campaigns (it was Shine whom Ailes assigned to rally Fox hosts to tweet negative comments about me while I researched my Ailes biography).
Considering Shine has been publicly associated with the sexual-harassment scandal at Fox, Murdoch’s support for him is striking. I reported how Shine helped Ailes cover up his 20-year sexual harassment of former Fox booker Laurie Luhn (Shine denied knowing about the harassment). I also reported how Shine testified in settlement talks regarding former Fox correspondent Rudi Bakhtiar, who was fired after saying she was sexually harassed by Fox’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief. Fox host Andrea Tantaros told me that in 2015 she reported to Shine that Ailes harassed her; she claims his response was “Don’t fight this.”
So nothing is changing really. Yes, Ailes is gone, but his replacements are old allies and part of the old boy's network. And the "old boys" don't care if their deniability about Ailes' sexual harassment history is "plausible" or not.