After the dust settled late Tuesday following reports that Fox News chief Roger Ailes had left the network amid allegations of widespread sexual harassment, a picture emerged of rough plans for an Ailes exit that was being stymied by tense, ongoing negotiations about the fine print.
CNN Money reported that negotiations on an exit agreement were underway with Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox. But Ailes’ attorney, Susan Estrich, told the news outlet that contrary to media reports, “there is no deal.”
“There’s lots of cross-talk, but no agreement has been reached,” she said.
Anonymous sources with direct knowledge of the talks told CNN that a deal could be reached as early as Tuesday night, with longtime staffers saying they expect the conservative media titan – who grew the network into a powerhouse model for cable news over his 20-year tenure – to leave the company in the coming days.
New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported negotiations are stalled because 21st Century Fox wants Ailes to “accept responsibility for errors in judgement.”
Earlier Tuesday, Sherman reported that Megyn Kelly, the network’s rising primetime star, told investigators Ailes also sexually harassed her early in her career with Fox News as part of a probe opened after fired host Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes two weeks ago.
Speaking through his representatives, Ailes strenuously denied the newest allegations reportedly coming from Kelly. 21st Century Fox has said only that the investigation is ongoing.
Estrich said Ailes “never sexually harassed” Kelly in a statement and has spent years nurturing her career at the network.
“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 attorney said.
Sherman also reported that Ailes was huddled in “full on crazy mode” with his closest aides, furious that Kelly might be credited with his firing.
The conservative link aggregation site Drudge Report first reported that Ailes was out and had inked a $40 million payout deal, a story that the site quickly reeled back. A quickly-deleted tweet from founder Matt Drudge, which appeared to show a page of Ailes’ severance agreement, said he would depart July 22.