Fox News named Suzanne Scott as its new CEO on Thursday, marking the first time a woman has led the cable news network. Scott, who as president of programming oversaw the opinion side of Fox’s lineup, will also run Fox Business Network.
Scott’s appointment comes after a string of sexual harassment complaints cost the network its founding chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes, and its most visible personality, Bill O’Reilly. It also marks a potential victory for the network’s opinion hosts, who dominate cable ratings at night with their largely pro-Trump views, but who have clashed at times with the network’s news side.
The move was announced by Lachlan Murdoch, who one day earlier was named as chairman and CEO of the new Fox company that will emerge, should Disney’s deal for several major 21st Century Fox assets go through. Rupert Murdoch, his father, will serve as co-chairman of the company. Scott will report directly to both Murdochs.
Jay Wallace, who had been executive vice president of news and editorial, will effectively serve as Scott’s number two, with the title of president of Fox News and executive editor.
The move provides clarity to a Fox News leadership structure that had been in flux since the ouster of Ailes in July 2016, after which Scott, Wallace, who had been in charge of news, and co-president Jack Abernathy reported to Rupert Murdoch, as executive chairman. Now, Abernethy will moving to LA and continue serving as CEO of the Fox Television Stations Group.
One Fox News on-air employee told POLITICO on Thursday that he thought Scott’s appointment as CEO—and clear leader of the network—could help fill the leadership void that had been felt there. As Fox’s news and opinion sides have clashed, though, it surely won’t be lost on those in Fox’s news operation that the Murdochs selected the person in charge of opinion programming to run the network.
Scott has been with Fox News since the network’s launch 22 years ago, and rose through the ranks under Ailes. She’s taking over a network that has dealt with a spate of sexual harassment scandals in recent years, but also maintained its status atop the cable news ratings. Most recently, Scott installed Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham as successors for hosts Bill O’Reilly, who departed in scandal, and Megyn Kelly, who fled for NBC News.
In his announcement, Lachlan Murdoch said, “Suzanne has been instrumental in the success of FOX News and she has now made history as its first female CEO. Her vision and innovation have helped create some of the most popular and lucrative primetime programs on cable and as we embark on the era of the proposed New Fox, I am confident that Suzanne’s leadership will ensure the dominance of both FOX News & FBN for years to come.”