Swirling tensions at Fox News burst into public view on Thursday as one of its stars, Sean Hannity, spoke out in defense of an embattled executive at the center of an expanding culture clash inside the network.
In an extraordinary series of Twitter posts, Mr. Hannity seemed to yoke himself to the fate of the executive, Bill Shine, a behind-the-scenes fixer who rose to become the network’s co-president after its former chairman, Roger Ailes, was ousted last summer.
“Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE F.N.C. is trying to get an innocent person fired,” Mr. Hannity wrote, referring to a report in New York magazine that Mr. Shine’s support from the Murdoch family, which controls Fox News Channel, was wavering.
If Mr. Shine were removed, Mr. Hannity wrote to his 2.3 million followers, “That’s the total end of the F.N.C. as we know it. Done.”
It is unusual for a television anchor to weigh in publicly on sensitive internal matters at a network. But Mr. Shine’s job security has been a matter of intense speculation inside Fox News’s Manhattan newsroom, which is still reeling from the forced exit of Bill O’Reilly in the wake of revelations that Mr. O’Reilly and Fox News had paid millions to settle accusations of harassment.
Mr. Shine was a loyal lieutenant to Mr. Ailes, and his continued role in newsroom leadership has been cited by women’s groups and some newsroom employees as a sign that Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, is not serious about reforming the workplace culture embodied by Mr. Ailes and Mr. O’Reilly.
Mr. Shine has been cited in at least four lawsuits against the network brought by current or former employees. Among the accusations are claims that Mr. Shine ignored or dismissed concerns about harassment, enabled or concealed Mr. Ailes’s harassment and, in one instance, made racially charged remarks.
Mr. Shine has denied all wrongdoing.
A spokesman for 21st Century Fox declined to comment on Thursday. But Rupert Murdoch, its executive chairman, went to lunch this week with Mr. Shine and Fox News’s other co-president, Jack Abernethy, at a prominent restaurant on Central Park South, which was widely seen as a sign of support.
You can read the rest at the New York Times.