Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott Extends Contract

Lachlan Murdoch says there will be no shift from the outlet's from 'center-right' focus

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Courtesy of Fox News

The leadership of several prominent TV-news outlets has changed in recent months. But a similar transition will not be taking place at Fox News.

Suzanne Scott, the CEO of Fox News Media, has extended her contract to continue leading the large unit, which is the biggest financial contributor to Fox Corporation.  Scott’s new term, said to be part of a new “multi-year” deal, was announced by Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch on a call with investors Tuesday.

“Suzanne’s stellar leadership and business acumen is evident across Fox News Media. Her investments in the people and purpose of Fox News have enabled us to shatter ratings records, build a leading multi-platform news brand and create a more collaborative and inclusive internal culture,” said Murdoch, in a statement. “Suzanne’s track record of success, innovative sprit and dedication to excellence make her the ideal person to continue to lead and grow Fox News.”

Speaking to investors, Murdoch said he was “happy” with recent programming changes put in place at Fox News, which has overhauled its daytime schedule and added a new hour of opinion at 7 p.m. in place of news programming. Murdoch also expressed satisfaction with a recent decision to bring former Trump economic advisor and longtime CNBC personality Larry Kudlow to Fox Business Network. Kudlow will for all intents and purposes replace a show anchored by Lou Dobbs, a firebrand personality who offered fierce support of President Donald Trump. His show was canceled last week.

Scott is staying while other news chiefs are leaving. At rival MSNBC, longtime president Phil Griffin  has made way for Rashida Jones. At CNN, president Jeff Zucker has indicated he intends to leave the WarnerMedia operation at the end of 2021. And at ABC News, president James Goldston will leave at the end of March.

Murdoch said executives continue to operate Fox News as a media venue that aims for “center-right” political viewers, and dismissed suggestions the network felt a need to lure viewers who held more extreme views., though rivals such as Newsmax have seen some spikes in viewership. “‘We don’t believe we need to go further right,” he said to investors. “We believe the center-right is where America’s politics are.”

He also shrugged off recent concerns about Fox News Channel ratings, which have seen some declines since the November presidential election. “This is a cycle we have seen before,” he said, noting that executives expected to see some normalization in trends as the nation moved along after the Trump presidency.

Scott became CEO in 2018, replacing Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy as co-presidents of the operation, and becoming the first female executive to oversee Fox News. She inherited a company that was still reeling from disclosures about the behavior of former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, and was among the executives that had to plot a strategy forward as Fox News lost its best-known anchor, Bill O’Reilly, after he was dismissed as the results of claims made about his behavior with various women. Both Ailes and O’Reilly have denied all or some of the allegations made against them.

Since taking the helm, Scott has expanded the number of hours of live programming on Fox News, and given new prominence to anchors including Tucker Carlson, Dana Perino and Harris Faulkner.  She has also steered the company into new digital ventures, including streaming-video ventures like Fox Nation and Fox News International, while recalibrating the company’s digital -news sites.

She faces two very different sets of critics. Viewers who embrace politics from the far right often feel Fox News doesn’t go far enough to confirm their viewpoints, while other detractors believe Fox News’ very close alignment with former President Trump has turned the outlet into a bullhorn for disinformation.

Speaking on the call, Murdoch said he expected scrutiny of Fox News operations to remain at high levels. “There will be a few more trees cut down,” he said, by outlets writing about Fox News in days to come.

“We don’t believe we need to go further right. We don’t think America is further right,” Murdoch said. “We’re obviously not going to pivot left. All of our competitors are to the far left.”