NEW YORK, N.Y. – Fox News’ parent company appointed Suzanne Scott chief executive officer on Thursday, giving the popular news network and its business offshoot its first sole leader since the late Roger Ailes was ousted in 2016 under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations.
Scott, who has been with Fox News Channel since its 1996 launch, most recently has been president of programming. Jack Abernethy, who had been Fox News co-president and also runs the Fox-owned television stations, will remain in the latter post. Jay Wallace was named president and executive editor of Fox News, giving him control of the networks’ editorial operations and reporting to Scott.
The moves came a day after parent 21st Century Fox announced that Lachlan Murdoch will become chairman and CEO of that streamlined company.
Fox News Channel has thrived during the Trump administration, as has MSNBC, its ideological opposite during prime-time programming. Despite losing Bill O’Reilly to sexual misconduct charges and Megyn Kelly to NBC, Fox’s prime-time lineup usually tops all cable networks in ratings. Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham routinely appeal to Trump supporters, while Sean Hannity rules as a vocal defender of Trump and regularly speaks to him on the phone, according to reports.
It was also revealed this week that 21st Century Fox had signed off on a $10 million settlement with 18 former Fox News Channel employees who had sued the company for either racial or gender discrimination.
That wipes one worry off Scott’s mind, and it’s hard not to see the appointment of a woman to the role Ailes once held as sending a message in the #MeToo era.
But she’s no newcomer. Scott is well-steeped in Fox’s culture, having migrated to the company from CNBC, as Ailes did, and that’s sure to lead to questions about whether she was in a position to improve working conditions. She worked on Greta Van Susteren’s program when it aired on Fox, and helped create the “Outnumbered” program that airs at noon, and programs hosted by Dana Perino and Martha MacCallum.
Scott, who was not made available for comment, said in a statement that she is “incredibly honoured and humbled to take on this new role.”
She’ll lead Fox as it tries to maintain its dominance in a market where Newsmax and Sinclair Broadcasting Group are becoming more aggressive in seeking a conservative audience.
As co-president, Abernethy appointed new leadership in Fox’s human resources department and a new chief counsel.
The selection of Scott and Wallace represented a clear thumbs-up for how the network is being run. Wallace has also been with Fox News Channel since its beginning, and most recently has overseen the network’s news operations. The promotion will also put him in charge of the opinion programming.
This story corrects the name of David Abernethy to Jack Abernethy and corrects Suzanne Scott’s previous position to president of programming. Deletes incorrect reference to Scott appointing new human resources leadership.