Roger Ailes, the 15-year boss of Fox News, who has built it from the ground into a hugely profitable channel has been dealt a massive blow by the bosses at 21st Century Fox.
There’s lots of change at the top at 21st Century Fox: Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as CEO, handing the company over to his son James. Rupert’s other son Lachlan will join him as executive co-chairman. And Chase Carey, the company’s deputy chairman, president and COO, is becoming executive co-chairman.
In an e-mailed press release sent out on Tuesday confirming its executive changes, Fox makes no mention of Roger Ailes, who has been the leader of its profitable Fox News cable network for the past 15 years.
Last week, as New York Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer blog points out, Ailes released “what now appears to be a rogue statement” to the Fox Business Channel, saying that he would continue to run the news network, reporting directly to Rupert Murdoch.
Ailes even went as far as directing Fox Business executive Bill Shine to tell Fox Business Channel anchor Stuart Varney to read the announcement on air, reiterating that Ailes would continue to report to Rupert Murdoch,New York Magazine reports.
However, a 21st Century Fox spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter, “Roger will report to Lachlan and James.”
That’s a huge slap in the face for 75-year-old Ailes, who has long counted Rupert Murdoch as a close ally. Ailes built Fox News from scratch into a huge cash cow. The Hollywood Reporter states in a recent profile of Ailes the channel is valued by Wall Street analysts at $15 billion, and it contributed to 18% of 21st Century Fox’s profits in 2014.
Despite his huge contribution to the company, Ailes does not get along with the Murdoch brothers, sources have previously told Business Insider.
Their feuds have been epic. The New York Magazine describes a few of their tussles:
Ailes’ tangles with Lachlan were legion. Not long after 9/11, Rupert gave Ailes a new contract after Ailes threatened to resign following a heated argument with Lachlan in the Fox newsroom. Four years later, Lachlan quit his job as deputy COO in charge of the Fox broadcast group after Rupert supported Ailes in a dispute over a TV show that Ailes wanted and Lachlan didn’t. In 2014, Rupert did nothing publicly after I reported in my Ailes biography that Ailes once bragged to a Fox News executive about moving into Lachlan’s vacant office, thereby putting himself closer to Rupert than Lachlan. “Do you know whose chair I’m sitting in? I’m sitting in Lachlan Murdoch’s chair,” Ailes boasted to his colleague. “Do you know who’s sitting on the other side of that wall? Rupert Murdoch.”
Judging by his history with the Murdoch brothers and his confusion around who he would be reporting to, it’s unlikely Ailes will be happy with the arrangements at the top of the company. His contract is up in 2016 anyway, and Ailes told the Hollywood Reporter back in April that nobody had been in touch to talk about a renewal.
One of Ailes’ other close allies at the company is Chase Carey, who – until these most recent changes – had been deputy chairman, president, and COO since 2009. The press release from 21st Century Fox states that Carey will serve in his new role through June 30 2016.