Fox News Promotes Executive Who Reportedly “Played An Integral Role” In Covering Up Sexual Harassments Claims

Fox News announced today that the network is promoting senior executive vice president Bill Shine to co-president of Fox News. Shine reportedly “played an integral role in the cover up” of sexual harassment allegations against former chief Roger Ailes and has been described as Ailes’ “foot soldier” and “right-hand man.”

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes last month for sexual harassment. Her lawsuit spurred numerous other women to come forward with similar claims against Ailes, who subsequently left the company. Fox News announced “a new senior leadership team and management structure today, naming Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy and Senior Executive Vice President Bill Shine to serve as Co-Presidents effective immediately.”

21st Century Fox head Rupert Murdoch praised Shine in a press release announcing the move, stating: “Bill Shine has developed and produced a signature primetime that has dominated the cable news landscape for 14 of his 20 years with FOX News. His leadership and keen eye for programming has played a fundamental role in the success of both FOX News and FOX Business Network.”

New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman -- the leading source on the Ailes scandal -- reported that Shine “played an integral role in the cover up of these sexual harassment claims.” He explained on CNN that Shine “pushed women into confidential mediation, signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid.” Sherman also reported he was told that Shine “played a role in rallying the women to speak out against Roger Ailes’ accusers and lead this counter narrative to try to say don't believe Gretchen Carlson, the allegations. If that is indeed the case, that again is -- the Murdochs will have to say this is a guy, these are managers who helped enable and try to protect Roger Ailes, who presided over this culture.”

Sherman reported that Shine played a key role in the silencing and “smearing” of “Rudi Bakhtiar, who says she was fired from Fox News after complaining about sexual harassment.” Sherman reported that during negotiations, “Shine attempted to portray Bakhtiar as a low-performing journalist”:

During the negotiations, which took place at Asen’s law firm’s Washington office, Shine attempted to portray Bakhtiar as a low-performing journalist. But the mediator was not convinced. The tape Shine played “showed how good I was,” says Bakhtiar. “It was me doing live shots, one after another. Bill had to keep saying, ‘Well, let me forward a little.’ The mediator just looked at him and looked at me and says, ‘You’re very good.’” (Shine did not respond to a request for comment.)

Sherman also reported that Shine played a role in handling allegations by Andrea Tantaros, who says she was “taken off the air after making sexual-harassment claims against Roger Ailes.” Tantaros said through her lawyer “that both she and her agent told Fox executive vice-president Bill Shine, senior vice-president Suzanne Scott, and general counsel Dianne Brandi about episodes of Ailes’s alleged harassment.” When she reportedly met with Shine to discuss her claims, Shine allegedly told her, "‘Roger is a very powerful man,’ and that she ‘should not fight this.’ … After making more complaints to Shine and Scott over the course of the next year, Tantaros was suspended from the network in April 2016.” Fox's attorneys denied Tantaros' allegations, and Shine told Politico through a spokesperson, “Andrea never made any complaints to me about Roger Ailes sexually harassing her.”

Shine also reportedly played a role in the handling of Laurie Luhn, a former booker who reportedly received a $3.15 million settlement and was allegedly “sexually harassed and ‘psychologically tortured’ by Roger Ailes for more than 20 years.”

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik tweeted earlier this month, “Some within Fox News tell me programming/opinion EVP Bill Shine, an Ailes confidant, knew of misconduct & ensuing complaints by women” and noted, “In @gabrielsherman's epic & damning piece on allegations by former booker Laurie Luhn, Shine played key role.”

Politico reporter Joe Pompeo tweeted that in “FNC succession talks, one source told me, Roger/Rupert had always agreed on Bill Shine.”

Sherman tweeted of the Fox News announcement: “First thoughts on Fox News leadership announcement: this is Ailes's existing management team.” CNN media reporter Brian Stelter wrote: “So the twin promotions send a message from Murdoch: that the cable news channel does not need an infusion of new leadership at the top.”