Bill Shine is no longer employed by the Fox News Channel.
The network co-president resigned today as announced by CEO Rupert Murdoch in a three-sentence email. Jack Abernethy, the other co-president, remains in place. The co-presidency was a creation that followed ex-CEO Roger Ailes’ ouster last summer.
Several lawsuits against the network accused Shine of allegedly covering up and/or mishandling sexual harassment allegations. The accusations against Shine are unproven, and Shine himself has denied them. Given all the turmoil surrounding Fox News in this context, however, the executive’s departure even after 21 years of service probably didn’t come as a total shock to media observers.
“Although Mr. Shine was seen as a source of stability in the news division at a turbulent time, his presence was viewed by some employees as a sign that Fox News’s parent, 21st Century Fox, was not serious about its stated commitment to overhaul the culture of the network,” the New York Times explained.
Shine’s exit follows his longtime boss Ailes and O’Reilly Factor host Bill O’Reilly amidst the aforementioned sexual harassment allegations and pressure from activist groups and advertisers.
In the email (which was followed up by a longer statement), Murdoch wrote that “Sadly, Bill Shine resigned today. I know Bill was respected and liked by everybody at Fox News. We will all miss him.”
“Shine played a played a key role in building Fox News Channel into a cable juggernaut, having joined the 21st Century Fox unit when it first launched in 1996. Shine was known for his ability to identify the hot button issues that appeal to the conservative viewers who flock to the network,” the Los Angeles Times asserted today.
Murdoch simultaneously announced that executive vice president Suzanne Scott, Shine’s second in command, will become president of programming while Jay Wallace assumes the role of president of news, The Hollywood Reporter noted.
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“While in programming, Shine was the point person on the familiar, fiery conservative commentary that made its primetime a ratings winner. He was the executive in charge of O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and former staffer Greta Van Susteren,” THR added.
Last week, amid rumors swirling around Shine’s status at FNC, Sean Hannity tweeted that if Shine goes, it would be total end of Fox News “as we know it.”
Virtually every night recently, Hannity uses his opening monologue to warn about alleged attempts by left-wing groups to silence conservatives on Fox News and elsewhere in the media. Hannity has also declared that he’s hired a team of lawyers to fight back against any politically motivated smear campaigns against him by the social justice cohort.
There has been much speculation that despite the powerhouse ratings and financial success that Fox News has achieved, the Murdoch sons want to move the network into a more liberal, globalist direction along the lines of Sky News in the U.K. The Murdochs’ are in the process of trying to gain British regulatory approval to become the sole owners of Sky.
On April 20, media analyst Michael Wolff wrote in THR that “If the expulsion of Ailes, and, even more dramatically, O’Reilly, mean anything, it means most of all that James [Murdoch] is in charge. And, most immediately, this means that Fox News, that constant irritant in James’ view of himself as a progressive and visionary television executive, will begin to change.”
Given the turmoil at Fox News and the potential change of editorial direction, rumors have emerged in the media industry that a new conservative/libertarian TV network could emerge on the scene.
In a Fox News press release about Bill Shine’s resignation, Rupert Murdoch explained that “Bill has played a huge role in building Fox News to its present position as the nation’s biggest and most important cable channel in the history of the industry. His contribution to our channel and our country will resonate for many years.”
[Featured Image by Mark Lennihan/AP Images]