×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

At Fox News, Turmoil Rages on as Bill Shine Exits

At a time when Fox News Channel is trying to move forward, the 21st Century Fox-owned network simply can’t seem to get out of its own way.

Fox News co-president Bill Shine became the latest high-profile executive to be ousted at the cable news network, following allegations that he covered up incidents of sexual harassment against anchor Bill O’Reilly and former chief Roger Ailes, who left the network last summer. Suzanne Scott, who had been executive vice president of programming, was named president of programming.  The parent company did not fill Shine’s role.

This latest shakeup is telling of the turmoil within the network, given the public show of support given to the exec by Rupert Murdoch, who was recently spotted taking Shine and co-president Jack Abernethy to a prominent Manhattan restaurant for lunch. And when rumors first emerged of Shine’s exit, anchor Sean Hannity went on a tweet storm defending him, and threatening if it were true, it would be “the total end of FNC as we know it.” He not only suggested he, too, might leave the network, but also suggested that he, too, might take legal action, tweeting: “A lot of time with an army of attorneys. Topics include: libel, slander, defamation, tortious interference. Stay tuned.”

It’s been a rough week for FNC, which also saw 11 current and former Fox News employees file a racial discrimination lawsuit against Fox News in State Supreme Court in the Bronx (the network “vehemently denied” the claims). Diana Falzone, another FNC employee, filed a suit alleging gender and disability discrimination. And Jesse Watters, a co-host on “The Five,” took a “vacation” after sparking controversy with remarks about Ivanka Trump that were interpreted as being disrespectful and misogynistic.

Solid Start
Nielsens for Tucker Carlson’s first week in the 8 p.m. hour approached Bill O’Reilly’s.
$3.6m Total viewers for Bill O’Reilly’s final broadcast of “The O’Reilly Factor”
$3.2m Total viewers for Tucker Carlon’s first broadcast in O’Reilly’s time slot

Most seriously, a federal investigation into the possibility that payments made to former employees were not accounted for properly continues to gain traction.

“Fox News Channel needs to stabilize the ship, and have a few weeks in which they can broadcast news and not be the subject of news,” said Jeffrey McCall, a professor of media studies at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. “Every Fox News Channel mistake or awkward remark will be amplified in the current climate.”

Kelly O’Keefe, an advertising professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, suggested top executives refocus the network and open up a more “respectful” on-air dialogue.

In its first full week without “The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News made some progress in the ratings, if not on the scandal front. Tucker Carlson has thrived in O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. roost. “The Five,” now at 9 p.m., fared well against a surging Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. And Fox News this week is launching new programs: a panel show at 5 p.m. and a refocused hour for Martha MacCallum at 7 p.m.

But Fox News Channel has to manage for the future as well as the present. O’Reilly has indicated he might like to take his current project — a daily podcast — to a rival media outlet. That’s likely to spark new chatter about someone setting up a far-right news network to court people who have stuck faithfully with Fox News.

Fox executives, at least publicly, have focused on the network’s on-screen programming, while critics remain vigilant about off-screen offenses. Until viewers show signs of pulling away, Fox News is likely to soldier on, hoping that winning the ratings battle will feed its efforts in its larger war. In the meantime, more turmoil is likely. “Things that would have passed without an eyebrow being raised a year ago will now get heightened scrutiny,” McCall said.

More TV

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Accusers Detail Abuse, Reveal Evidence on 'Dateline'

    The continuing controversy surrounding R. Kelly, including allegations of sexual abuse by a number of women over three decades, was the focus of Friday’s episode of “Dateline.” Speaking to accusers Sparkle, Jerhonda Pace and parents Tim and Jonjelyn Savage, among others, NBC’s Andrea Canning heard more harrowing tales of abduction and sexual misconduct on the part [...]

  • Kenan Thompson

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilots 'Saving Kenan' and 'Like Magic'

    NBC has ordered comedies “Saving Kenan” and “Like Magic” to pilot. “Saving Kenan” is a single-camera comedy starring “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kenan Thompson as a “newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives.” Jackie Clarke will serve as writer and [...]

  • The First -- "The Choice" -

    'The First' Canceled at Hulu After One Season

    Hulu has grounded the space exploration drama “The First” after one season, Variety has confirmed. The series hailed from Beau Willimon and starred Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone in Penn’s first regular television role. “The First” was set in the near future and followed the first human mission to Mars. Hulu gave the show a straight-to-series order in [...]

  • Nicole Maines Supergirl Trans Hollywood Portrait

    TV Roundup: 'Supergirl' Drops First Look at Nicole Maines as TV's First Trans Superhero

    In today’s TV News Roundup, The CW releases a first look at Nicole Maines on “Supergirl” and Variety unveils an exclusive look at Gabriel Iglesias’ new comedy special.  FIRST LOOKS truTV has released the first trailer for season 2 of Emmy-nominated series “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” The variety sketch comedy returns Tuesday, Feb. 19 at [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content