By Jessica Toonkel
(Reuters) – Bill Shine, co-president of Fox News Channel, has become the latest executive to resign in the wake of a sexual misconduct scandal at the cable channel.
The exit of Shine, who has been with Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s Fox News since its inception over 20 years ago, marks a key step in the attempt by Rupert Murdoch and his sons, who run the company, to clean house after a series of embarrassing revelations.
Chairman Roger Ailes resigned in July following sexual harassment allegations, and top-rated news host Bill O’Reilly left last month after a report that Fox and O’Reilly had paid out $13 million to settle harassment claims by five women.
Star anchor Megyn Kelly left Fox in January to join NBC News. Kelly was one of Ailes’ accusers and detailed his behavior in her best-selling book, “Settle for More.” Ailes has denied the allegations.
Shine has been named in a number of lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct at the company, and was blamed for not doing more to prevent it.
Last month, Julie Roginsky, a Democratic political consultant and Fox News contributor, sued the network and Ailes, accusing them of denying her a permanent hosting job after she rebuffed Ailes’ sexual advances.
She also sued Shine, asserting that he failed to investigate her claims.
Shine and Jack Abernethy were appointed co-presidents in August to lead Fox News in the wake of Ailes’ departure.
Abernethy remains co-president of Fox News and chief executive of Fox Television stations. Suzanne Scott, who was executive vice president of programming has been promoted to head of Fox News’ programming, and Jay Wallace has been similarly promoted to head of news, the company said.
The co-president position that Shine held remains open, a Fox spokeswoman said. It is not clear if Fox will fill that position.
The promotion of Scott and Wallace does not signal any great change of direction, as both are Fox News veterans who joined the company in 1996.
Scott has also been mentioned in legal action surrounding the misconduct scandal. In her lawsuit Roginsky alleges that Scott did not investigate her claims of sexual advances toward her, and was one of a number of executives that encouraged Fox News contributors to retaliate against former anchor Gretchen Carlson, who filed the sexual harassment lawsuit last year against Ailes that eventually led to his resignation.
Scott is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. A Fox News spokeswoman declined to comment on behalf of Scott.
Shine will leave the company after helping a transition over the next few weeks, the cable channel said on Monday.
“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,” Rupert Murdoch, co-executive chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox, said in a statement announcing Shine’s resignation. “His contribution to our channel and our country will resonate for many years.”
After talk of Shine’s departure started last week, Fox News host Sean Hannity tweeted that Shine’s departure would be “the total end” of Fox News Channel and started a hashtag #Istandwithshine.
Hannity had no statement about Shine’s departure, the Fox News spokeswoman said.
The lawsuits against Fox News continue to mount. On Monday, a Fox News contributor said in a lawsuit that she was taken off the air after writing an article about a medical condition that would likely leave her infertile.
(Reporting by Jessica Toonkel in New York and Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Bill Rigby)