The Murdoch family might be looking to replace Bill Shine as co-president of Fox News after multiple reports named Shine as being complicit in burying sexual harassment complaints by helping to coordinate smear campaigns against women who reported harassment, or pushing them to settle and sign nondisclosure agreements. Shine has also been tied to a racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the network, and has been named in a more recent lawsuit for surveilling the private communications of a former Fox host who sued the network for harassment.
Murdochs “Quietly Put Out Feelers” For Possible Replacement Of Co-President Bill Shine
The Hollywood Reporter: Fox “May Be Preparing For A Leadership Change.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox News might be “preparing for a leadership change.” The magazine reported on April 28 that the Murdochs -- Rupert and his sons, Lachlan and James, who control the network -- “have quietly put out feelers” to find current co-President Bill Shine’s replacement. “Pressure is building” on the network to remove Shine, as he has “been named in multiple lawsuits targeting the network” regarding sexual harassment and racial discrimination, and many, “especially women,” see “Shine as complicit in the sins of the past.” [The Hollywood Reporter, 4/28/17]
Fox Host Sean Hannity Tweets That He Stands With Shine. New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Shine had expressed “concern about his future at the network,” and had asked James and Lachlan Murdoch to “release a statement in support of him, but they refused to do so.” In reaction to Sherman’s reporting, Fox host Sean Hannity tweeted that if Shine were to leave the network, “that’s the total end of the FNC as we know it” and expressed his support for Shine by using the hashtags “#Istandwithbill” and “#Istandwithshine.” [Media Matters, 4/27/17]
There Have Been Multiple Reports About Bill Shine Throughout The Years
2007: Shine Failed To Act After Rudi Bakhtiar’s Agent Reported She Had Been Sexually Harassed By Fox Executives. On July 23, 2016, Sherman reported that former Fox News reporter Rudi Bakhtiar was fired from the network following her complaint that Brian Wilson, a former Fox News Washington bureau chief, had “made unwanted sexual advances toward her.” Bahktiar reported the harassment, which Wilson denied, to Shine through her agent in 2007. Even though Shine reportedly promised to investigate, Bahktiar was fired and eventually settled with the network for $670,000 outside of court after signing a nondisclosure agreement. [New York, 7/23/16]
2011: Shine Aided Former Fox CEO Roger Ailes In His Interactions With An Employee Who Reported Ailes For Sexual Harassment And Emotional Abuse. As reported by Sherman, Shine helped former CEO Roger Ailes interact with Laurie Luhn, a former Fox booker who eventually reported Ailes for harassment. Luhn had a nervous breakdown after Ailes “psychologically tortured” her. In response, Shine reportedly checked her into hotels in different cities to keep her from reporting her circumstances and started reviewing her outgoing emails. A spokesperson for Shine told Sherman that Shine denied reviewing the emails. [New York, 7/29/16]
2016: Andrea Tantaros Named Shine In Her Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Ailes And Bill O’Reilly. Andrea Tantaros, a suspended Fox host, included Shine in the sexual harassment lawsuit she filed against Ailes and former Fox host Bill O’Reilly. In her lawsuit, Tantaros explains that Shine “also failed to take her complaints [against Ailes and O’Reilly] seriously.” According to Tantaros’ lawsuit, she met with Shine to discuss “relief from Ailes’ sexual harassment and [Executive Vice President Irena] Briganti’s retaliatory media vendetta against her," but Shine told her “that Ailes was a ‘very powerful man’ and that she ‘needed to let this one go.’” [NPR, 4/3/17, Media Matters, 8/23/16]
2016: Shine Helped Cover Up Ailes’ Reported Misconduct By “Push[ing] Women Into Confidential Mediation.” As Sherman told CNN’s Brian Stelter, Shine “played an integral role in the cover-up” of Ailes’ reported misconduct, and he did so by “push[ing] women into confidential mediation, signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid.” From the July 24 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources:
GABRIEL SHERMAN: Brian, I just want to speak to that because I think this is where the story is going forward, the Murdochs are looking to the existing leadership at Fox News as possible replacements for Ailes. The critical issue is that, a lot of the main players, especially Bill Shine, Roger Ailes’ deputy who is in charge of programming and the Fox Business Network currently, played an integral role in the cover-up of these sexual harassment claims. I reported yesterday based on internal documents --
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Those are strong words. Let me pause there for a minute, you said cover up of these claims. You're saying this man Bill Shine and others covered up what Ailes was doing?
SHERMAN: The way they did that, Brian, the reason I used those strong words, is they pushed women into confidential mediation, signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid. These women needed to make a living, they signed nondisclosure agreements and as we have seen for the last 19 years, these allegations were not private. I have seen internal documents, I interviewed one of the women, Rudi Bakhtiar, on the record as did the New York Times, and if you see this, Bill Shine, Dianne Brandi, Fox News's general counsel, a lot of the senior executives around Roger Ailes were fully aware of this culture. Let’s be very clear, they knew exactly what was going on, they did not speak up.
STELTER: I think that's a question mark. I spoke with a spokeswoman again this morning who does not have evidence of that. But I do have to say I did ask the company this morning will they comment on whether this internal review is now being widened and they’re not commenting on that. As I said earlier, there are a lot more questions than answers right now. And you're saying, Gabe, this is going to spread quite a bit further?
SHERMAN: Yes, the people I talked to inside the company feel that the only way to change the Fox News culture is to move out all of the executives that Ailes had elevated into positions of power. There was a loyalty test. Another thing that I’m hearing is that Bill Shine, Roger Ailes’ deputy 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. [Media Matters, 7/24/16]
2016: Shine Apparently Sided With O’Reilly Against Former Host Megyn Kelly. As reported by The New York Times, former Fox host Megyn Kelly emailed Shine and co-President Jack Abernethy about O’Reilly’s comments on CBS that he wasn’t “interested” in discussing the sexual harassment within Fox. Kelly expressed concerns that someone with “O’Reilly’s history,” as the Times put it, was lecturing women about sexual harassment. After learning that O’Reilly was planning to air a segment discussing the issue, Kelly’s producers urged Shine to pull it. The segment aired regardless. [The New York Times, 4/14/17]
2017: Shine Was Co-President At Fox When 21st Century Fox Paid Settlements To Women Who Reported O’Reilly For Sexual Harassment. On April 1, The New York Times reported that $13 million dollars had been paid in five settlements to women who had reported that O’Reilly sexually harassed them. 21st Century Fox made two of those payments during Shine’s tenure as Fox News’ co-president. [The New York Times, 4/1/17, CNN, 4/28/17]
2017: Julie Roginsky Included Shine In Her Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against The Network. Fox political commentator Julie Roginsky filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes that also names Shine for being complicit “in Ailes’ harassment and of punishing her for raising the issue,” NPR reported. [NPR, 4/3/17]
2017: Tantaros Sued Shine For Surveilling Her Phone And Email Communications As Retaliation For Suing The Network. The Daily Beast reported that Tantaros has filed a new suit against Shine, Ailes, and other Fox executives, including Briganti, “and Fox-aligned social-media operative Peter A. Snyder,” for surveilling “her phone and email communications.” Tantaros said that Fox executives used the information to “intimidate, terrorize, and crush her through an endless stream of lewd, offensive, and career-damaging social media posts, blog entries and commentary” as part of a smear campaign following her 2016 sexual harassment lawsuit. [The Daily Beast, 4/24/17]
2017: Shine Has Been “Tied To A Racial Discrimination And Harassment Lawsuit.” A group of black employees, including Fox anchor Kelly Wright, have sued Fox News for racial discrimination and harassment. Wright explained that he had been, as CNN put it, “virtually sidelined at the network.” The latest version of the racial discrimination lawsuit explains that Shine “has demonstrated an obsession with race when it comes to discussions with Mr. Wright, including regularly asking him, 'how do Black people react to you' and 'how do you think White viewers look at you?'” [Media Matters, 4/26/17; CNN, 4/26/17, 4/28/17]