New York Magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman reported Monday afternoon that the cataclysm at the top of Fox News continued Monday morning:
BREAKING: Two sources inside Fox News say Bill Shine is out as of this morning
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) May 1, 2017
Fox News moments ago confirmed the news. “This is a significant day for all at FOX News. 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. His contribution to our channel and our country will resonate for many years,” said Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, the network’s parent company.
Absent: a rationale for Shine’s departure. The omission makes sense when considering the facts of the matter. Shine, along with Jack Abernethy, received a coveted promotion to co-president in August, following the ignominious departure of Roger Ailes, the founder of the network. One month before that promotion, Ailes was sued for sexual harassment by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, in a watershed event that prompted many other such complaints against the strongman network boss.
Shine had spent his Fox News career as a key lieutenant, and reporting by Sherman established that he played a role in assisting a woman who later accused Ailes of sexual and psychological torment. Andrea Tantaros, another former Fox News host, alleged that Shine didn’t take her complaints about Ailes seriously.
To any rational student of corporate management, Shine’s work alongside Ailes for two decades should have prompted his ouster along with Ailes.
He got a promotion instead. Then, as Fox News announced in September, he got a fresh, multiyear contract. “Jack and Bill have been instrumental in FOX News’ continued dominance in the ratings and historic earnings performance. I am delighted they’ve each signed new deals, ensuring stability and leadership to help guide the network for years to come.” That was the statement from Murdoch back then.
Over the ensuing eight months, Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, have grown to appreciate just what a mess Ailes and Shine & Co. have left for them. The lawsuits of all sorts continue cropping up at various courthouses in the New York region — this one for sexual harassment, that one for racial discrimination. Settlements, too: Bill O’Reilly, it turns out, had five of them for sexual harassment or mistreatment, prompting his own ouster last month.
In Shine’s absence, Executive Vice President Suzanne Scott becomes president of programming for Fox News Channel and Executive Vice President of News Jay Wallace becomes president of news at Fox News.
And now for the really good news. Shine is a close colleague of Sean Hannity, the guy who nightly prevents Fox News from approximating journalism. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hannity cheer-led for Donald Trump, advised Trump and even, at one point, did a video promotion for him. No news organization’s manual would have blessed the conduct. As explained here, Shine was recommended to Ailes by Hannity and he earned plaudits for producing the now-defunct “Hannity & Colmes.”
How important to Hannity is Shine? So important that when news of Shine’s organization peril surfaced last week, Hannity couldn’t contain himself:
Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC is trying to get an innocent person fired. And Gabe I KNOW WHO it is. Best Sean https://t.co/W3BJ2wjzRD
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 27, 2017
That tweet gives hope — hope that the bind was so tight that Hannity won’t stick around Fox News without Shine.