Bill Shine’s ouster from the beleaguered Fox News Channel appears to signal the passing of a generational torch from media titan Rupert Murdoch to his sons — even as other conservatives mull a challenge to the family’s flagship network with the creation of a new right-wing cable network.
Shine reportedly covered up for ex-Fox founder Roger Ailes, who resigned last summer amid allegations of sexual harassment by female colleagues. The alleged targets included host Megyn Kelly, who bolted from Fox earlier this year and debuts on NBC this fall.
Shine, with Fox since its launch over two decades ago, replaced Ailes as co-president along with Jack Abernethy. His departure follows that of star host Bill O’Reilly, who was forced out last month after he and Fox reportedly paid $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims against five women.
And it also comes after Shine had asked Murdoch’s sons — 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and company co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch — for a statement of support, according to New York Magazine.
Shine, obviously, didn’t get it.
“It appears as though the next generation of Murdochs wants to set a new internal tone, but they seem to want continuity on air as much as possible,” said Ed Morrissey, senior editor and correspondent at the conservative site Hotair .com. “That’s going to be best in the long run, but if it means parting ways with (Sean) Hannity, it may present an opportunity for a new network to arise that challenges Fox’s grip on the Right. That may not be a bad thing for the Right, either — a little competition could create more opportunities, as well as more debate on policies and principles.”
Last week, Hannity threw his support behind Shine on social media, tweeting, “Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC is trying to get an innocent person fired.” He also said Shine’s departure would be “the total end of the FNC as we know it.”
And while it may appear Murdoch’s sons are now calling the shots at Fox, some observers say not so fast. Murdoch is still in control, says Emerson College professor Janet Kolodzy, who worked at CNN for 12 years.
“Rupert Murdoch does not give up control easily, but he is astute in understanding that in order to maintain viability, change has to happen,” Kolodzy said. “If part of it is that his sons represent that and he’s willing to work with them on it, that fits his pattern.”
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