Report: Fox News Paid Former PR Chief $8 Million in Settlement

Gawker cites book on Roger Ailes as source of friction with longtime exec Brian Lewis

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The cost of keeping the business of Fox News out of the public domain? According to a new report from online news outlet Gawker, around $8 million.

Gawker reported Monday that the 21st Century Fox-owned outlet paid that sum to Brian Lewis, a former senior public-relations executive with the network,  in the wake of his dismissal earlier this year.

Lewis was named executive vice president of corporate communications at the top-rated cable-news network in 2006 and helped shape the network’s perception among the media. He was once known as a close adviser to FNC chairman and chief executive Roger Ailes, and his break from the popular cable-news unit raised eyebrows.

Gawker reported that the settlement came after months of back-and-forth. In a statement released in August, 21st Century Fox said an internal investigation into Lewis’ conduct “determined that he should be terminated for cause, specifically for issues relating to financial irregularities, as well as for multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract.”

In its report, Gawker quoted a source who suggested Lewis’ dismissal was less about any financial improprieties and more about his willingness to cooperate with author Gabe Sherman, whose unauthorized biography of Ailes is slated to be published in January.

The New York Times reported last week that Fox News had settled with Lewis, though no one from the network or its parent company would confirm the details. A Fox News spokeswoman referred an inquiry from Variety to Dianne Brandi, an executive vice president at Fox News. She did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. A spokesman for 21st Century Fox said the company declined to comment.