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Fox News Names Jack Abernethy, Bill Shine Co-Presidents

Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine Fox
Abernethy: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer; Shine: Courtesy of Fox

Jake Abernethy and Bill Shine have been named co-presidents of Fox News one month after the departure of longtime network chief Roger Ailes. The news was announced Friday by 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch.

Abernethy and Shine will report directly to Murdoch. Meanwhile, Fox News said its longtime chief financial officer Mark Kranz will retire, making him the most senior executive to leave the company in the wake of the Ailes sexual harassment scandal that exploded last month.

Abernethy and Shine will share oversight of the top-rated cable news channel, with the former focusing on business aspects and the later focusing on programming and editorial matters.

Abernethy is CEO of Fox Television Stations, and will maintain that role in addition to his new position at Fox News. Shine had been senior executive vice president of programming for Fox News under Ailes. Both are longtime Fox executives.

Suzanne Scott has been promoted to exec VP of programming and development for the network, where she will continue to report to Shine.

Jay Wallace will continue to manage the news division as exec VP of news editorial. He will now report to Shine. Both executives had previously reported to Ailes, and both had been widely speculated to be among the top internal contenders to replace Ailes.

“Jack was integral to the launch and success of Fox News nearly 20 years ago and we’re delighted he’s returning to take on this additional role,” Murdoch said in a statement. “As we continue to benefit from his strong leadership of Fox Television Stations, his strategic vision and deep knowledge of the cable news business will ensure continued growth of Fox News and Fox Business Network for generations to come.”

He added, “Bill Shine has developed and produced a signature primetime that has dominated the cable news landscape for 14 of his 20 years with Fox News. His leadership and keen eye for programming has played a fundamental role in the success of both Fox News and Fox Business Network.”

Ailes stepped down from his post as CEO of Fox News last month following a lawsuit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson that alleged she suffered years of sexual harassment at his hands and those of other men at Fox News. Since then, allegations against Ailes have snowballed, with multiple former female employees stepping forward with their own claims of harassment. On Sunday, New York magazine published a report claiming that Ailes used Fox News funds to conduct smear campaigns against his perceived enemies, maintaining a so-called “Black Room” in the network’s Midtown Manhattan office from which consultants and private investigators plotted.

It is unknown whether, as CFO, Kranz had knowledge of activities by Ailes now under internal review at Fox, including the misuse of company funds to advance Ailes’ private agenda. A rep for Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox declined comment.

“Over his 19 years with Fox News, Mark Kranz was instrumental in increasing profitability across all of our key properties,” Murdoch said in a statement. “We are grateful for his many contributions to the company and we extend our best wishes to him as he embarks on a new chapter.”

The new executive structure with Shine and Abernethy sharing power essentially elevates one top lieutenant from each of two major areas of oversight for Ailes — Fox News and Fox Stations. Abernethy’s background is in business affairs, having served as an exec VP at Fox News, overseeing finance, legal, and affiliate sales, prior to running the stations group. Shine is a longtime Fox News programming executive, having joined as producer of the primetime show “Hannity & Colmes” in 1996.

The announcement of Shine and Abernethy’s promotion makes no mention of Rupert Murdoch’s sons, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and 21st Century Fox co-executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch. Ailes reported directly to the two younger Murdochs following a shakeup last year that saw them ascend to their current roles. Ailes had resisted that change in reporting structure and fought to continue to answer only to Rupert Murdoch — a fight he lost.

The elder Murdoch has been running Fox News on an interim basis since Ailes’ departure last month.