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Fox News co-president departs amid turmoil

By Michael M. Grynbaum and Emily Steel

Fox News on Monday announced the exit of one of its co-presidents, Bill Shine, removing a holdover from the Roger Ailes era and signaling that the network is prepared to shake up its executive ranks as it tries to move past a season of turmoil that has engulfed it since last summer.

Shine is a veteran newsman and a longtime lieutenant to Ailes, the former chairman who was forced out amid a sexual harassment scandal in July.

Shine had been cited in several lawsuits as someone who enabled and concealed Ailes' behavior and dismissed concerns from women who complained about it. He has denied all wrongdoing.

His departure is sure to roil some of Fox News's most recognizable stars, with whom Shine had close relationships. Sean Hannity, the channel's 10 p.m. mainstay, is particularly close with Shine, and he publicly defended his friend last week on Twitter, saying that removing Shine would be "the total end of the FNC as we know it. Done."

In a memo to the staff Monday afternoon, Rupert Murdoch, who controls the Fox media empire, said that Suzanne Scott would become president of programming and Jay Wallace would become president of news. Jack Abernethy, who was a co-president with Shine, remains in his current position.

"I know Bill was respected and liked by everyone at Fox News,'' Murdoch wrote. "We will all miss him.''

For months, Shine's position seemed safe. He was promoted to lead Fox News alongside Abernethy in the wake of Ailes' departure, at the behest of Murdoch, who built the sprawling Fox entertainment empire and is the news channel's executive chairman.

But the dismissal of Bill O'Reilly, the prime-time host who faced his own sexual harassment allegations, brought new scrutiny to the company. Some women's groups called for Shine to be fired.

Murdoch is often reluctant to make major personnel changes – particularly at a lucrative asset like Fox News, which is a giant and reliable moneymaker for 21st Century Fox.

But Murdoch is weighing a number of corporate factors, including his desire to acquire the British satellite and television company Sky, a long-coveted prize. The sale of Sky is being reviewed by a British regulatory agency, which must determine whether 21st Century Fox would be a "fit and proper'' owner.

Ailes and O'Reilly have denied the allegations against them.

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