The nearly omniscient chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes, was publicly rebuked on Tuesday when his parent company released a statement contradicting him on who he will answer to now that chief executive Rupert Murdoch is stepping down.
The elder Murdoch, currently chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox, is set to christen his younger son, James, as CEO while retaining his title as chairman.
His other son, Lachlan Murdoch, is set to join his father as co-executive chairman of the company.
So what does this mean for Roger Ailes?
Fox Business Network reported last week that Ailes would continue to “report directly to Rupert Murdoch” — a line that came directly from Ailes according to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman.
But on Tuesday, a spokesperson for 21st Century Fox issued a statement saying that Ailes would answer to Murdoch’s sons before the big man himself.
“Roger will report to Lachlan and James but will continue his unique and long-standing relationship with Rupert,” spokesperson Nathaniel Brown told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday.
Sherman called the move significant and detailed the history of acrimony between the Murdoch brothers and Ailes, noting that, “until now, Rupert always backed Ailes during his messy feuds with Murdoch’s children”:
Ailes and James have maintained a distant, if frosty relationship. James is an environmentalist who led News Corp’s campaign to be a carbon-neutral company. His wife once worked for the Clinton Foundation. Ailes, a fierce climate change denier, openly badmouthed James to friends and colleagues. He’s called him a “fucking dope” and “Fredo,” according to sources.
No one I spoke to in the hours after the news broke could remember a time when Ailes has been so publicly diminished.