Several mainstream news outlets reported on Tuesday that Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes will be exiting the company on Friday. According to a since-deleted tweet from the Drudge Report, a separation agreement between Ailes and the company laid out a $40 million parachute for their former chief executive. Fox News confirmed to The Daily Beast that Ailes was on his way out but later rescinded its story. A source within Fox also confirmed Ailes’ departure to Deadline. Variety has also published their own account of this story.
The Ailes departure follows a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, which sparked an internal investigation into Fox News by lawyers hired by Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox. The findings of that investigation — Megyn Kelly also allegedly described being sexually harassed by Ailes — reportedly led Murdoch to start planning Ailes’ firing.
Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren and Bill O’Reilly all reportedly have clauses in their contracts that will allow them to leave the network if Ailes leaves; in the days since the contents of the Carlson lawsuit came to light, all three have spoken out in support of their boss.
This development could leave Donald Trump — a close friend and staunch defender of Ailes’ — without his biggest ally at Fox News as the election season continues.