The soap opera otherwise known as Fox News continues this week, at least in the rumor mill. As the Murdoch sons work to overhaul Fox for the 21st Century (no pun intended), there are rumors that co-president Bill Shine may be on the way out, that the family may look for a woman to head Fox News, that Sean Hannity won’t be long for the network and that he, along with some others who feel the network is moving too far to the left, may form an alternative network.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Lachlan and James Murdoch, who run Fox News’ parent company, along with their father, Rupert Murdoch, “seem determined to rid the company of its roguish, old-guard internal culture and tilt operations toward the digital future. They are working to make the family empire their own, not the one the elder Murdoch created to suit his sensibilities.”
Furthermore, the Times reported, James Murdoch has “long been embarrassed by certain elements of Fox News.”
And now the sons seem ready to strike.
Gabriel Sherman reported yesterday that Shine asked for but was refused a statement of support from the Murdoch sons. Clearly, Shine is part of Fox's old guard. Sherman explains:
Shine joined the network in 1996, served as Sean Hannity’s producer, and rose through the ranks to become Ailes’s deputy. In that role, sources say he had the power to stop multiple instances of sexual harassment, including that of former Fox booker Laurie Luhn, but did not do so. (Through a Fox News spokesperson, Shine denies this.) He’s currently a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed this week by former Fox host Andrea Tantaros.
In addition, as CNN has pointed out, Fox contributor Julie Roginsky has accused Shine of retaliating against her for not supporting Roger Ailes after he was accused of sexual harassment and Shine has been tied to the racial discrimination lawsuit recently filed (though not named as a defendant).
However, Sherman also noted that Shine “may simply know too much about Fox News’ inner workings at a time when federal prosecutors are investigating the network. …’Fired executives take immunity deals,’ an insider said. ‘So it’s a very tricky situation.’”
Nevertheless, Sean Hannity is clearly worried. He tweeted Sherman Thursday:
It speaks volumes that Hannity would want to communicate his concerns to Sherman in such a friendly way, given how the Ailes/Shine brigade has previously tried to smear and discredit him.
It also speaks volumes that Hannity would be publicly pointing a finger at a superior. Although Hannity didn’t name names, does anyone doubt that it’s James Murdoch?
So if Shine goes, would Hannity go with him? Maybe.
This Friday, Mediaite reported that “advanced talks are underway” for a new conservative network:
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.
The potential aim? Putting “the old band” back together.
“I just don’t see Fox News and Sean having a long relationship. If Sean becomes available, you have 100 percent turnover in primetime and a huge opportunity,” a television executive, who didn’t want to be identified, but is involved in some of the talks, told Mediaite.
Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter reported today that the Murdochs have “quietly put out feelers for a possible new head of Fox News with the preference, say sources, that it be a woman.”
Crossposted at News Hounds.
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News Hound Ellen also contributed to this post.