Fox News has denied a headline on The Drudge Report Tuesday afternoon that CEO Roger Ailes is leaving his post as an investigation into his alleged sexual harassment of Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson and other employees is underway.
An initial headline on the site beneath a flashing siren GIF reserved for big stories said Ailes had agreed to leave Fox News with a "40+ million parachute. That report was also independently confirmed by The Daily Beast.
But Fox quickly denied it:
The New York Times reported
that negotiations may include Ailes remaining with Fox as a consultant.
Matt Drudge posted what was purported to be a page from Ailes' severance agreement as well, but it was quickly taken down, indicating it might have been a working document rather than a final agreement.
Drudge later posted a red headline "Top Talent Could Leave With Roger" underneath photos of popular hosts Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren and Bill O'Reilly.
Ailes has been under fire since former Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes alleging he sexually harassed her by saying she could have had a better experience at Fox News had she had a sexual relationship with him.
New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reported Monday
that an internal review by lawyers hired by 21st Century Fox, the channel's parent company, had revealed that anchor Megyn Kelly also said she was harassed by Ailes a decade ago.
That led to the family of Rupert Murdoch, who runs News Corporation and 21st Century Fox, to issue Ailes an ultimatum to leave by August 1 or be fired.
"It wasn't supposed to happen so quickly, but with the internal allegations mounting, it was deemed time for him to go," Deadline Hollywood quoted a person it deemed "a well-placed source."
Meanwhile, Drudge not only deleted his tweet of the page said to be the severance agreement, but changed his website's headline to "Ailes Fox News Drama."
A picture of Kelly at the top of the site — originally captioned that she had "twisted the knife,"— was changed to say, "STATEMENT: 'Roger Ailes has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly. In fact, he has spent much of the last decade promoting and helping her to achieve the stardom she earned, for which she has repeatedly and publicly thanked him'…."
The site did not say whether the statement was from Fox News, Ailes' team or from someone else, though other media outlets attributed it to Fox News.
The now 76-year-old Ailes founded Fox News Channel in October 1996 and has been CEO since, growing the fledgling news channel to the highest rated on cable.
According to the now-deleted page listing terms of separation, Ailes' employment is to end on Friday and he is required to provide advice and act in the company's best interest for one year. Ailes would also continue to be part of the company health insurance plan and receive life insurance and personal security for six months.
The final paragraph says Ailes will be indemnified for claims against him in his capacity as chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel, Fox Business Channel and as director of any subsidiaries, including provision of legal representation of and payment of damages. It does not specify whether that includes the allegations made by Carlson.
Here is the document that Drudge posted purporting to be part of the severance agreement.
Todd Beamon contributed to this report.
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