Dianne Brandi, the top legal counsel at Fox News Channel for many years, is taking a voluntary leave from the 21st Century Fox-owned news outlet, the network said, the latest executive shift set in motion by a host of legal issues that have swirled around the network in recent months.
Brandi has a long history with the network and ties to Roger Ailes, its former CEO and chairman who left under a cloud in 2016 after former anchor Gretchen Carlson accused him of harassing her sexually, resulting in a cascade of disclosures and charges about the culture of the network and how women are treated there. Brandi has been cited in recent select legal matters, with some lawsuits alleging that she had been among executives who declined to help when allegations of harassment or discrimination were made.
Ailes, who passed away earlier this year, denied all charges levied against him.
Brandi, who has been with Fox News since its inception in 1996, recently ceded some oversight. Kevin Lord, who was hired late last year to supervise human resources at Fox News Channel, was made head of compliance and did not report to Brandi. The network did not say when she might return. Attorneys representing plaintiffs in matters against Fox News have said removing Brandi from the company would represent one of the biggest signs that the company’s culture is shifting.
“The announcement of Ms. Brandi’s leave of absence is long overdue,” said Douglas Wigdor, an attorney who represents 20 plaintiffs involved with litigation against Fox News. “The real questions that remain are how much she was paid as part of her separation and when Fox will acknowledge and apologize to the legitimate victims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation that I currently represent.”
Fox News has in recent months been in the midst of an executive and programming shakeup. New female executives have been named to supervise the CFO role and advertising sales. Over the course of the next several weeks, Fox News is slated to unveil a new programming lineup that features more women than it has in the past. Laura Ingraham will take over the network’s 10 p.m. slot and Shannon Bream will launch a new show at 11 p.m.