Fox News Channel paid a former PR executive and top aide to president Roger Ailes approximately $8M in "hush money" after the executive was fired and threatened to go public about his time at the network, according to a report by Gawker.
The New York Times reported Dec. 5 that a settlement between Fox and the former exec, Brian Lewis, was reached, but terms were not disclosed.
Gawker, citing a Fox News executive, put the deal at the seven-figure sum in a Dec. 8 article.
Fox fired Lewis, considered one of the most powerful people at the network and a right-hand aide to Ailes, in July, citing, in a public statement, "issues relating to financial irregularities, as well as for multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract."
But the gloves came off after Fox released that statement. Lewis hired an attorney who warned that "Ailes and [News Corp] have a lot more to fear from Brian Lewis telling the trust about them than Brian Lewis has to fear from Roger Ailes and his toadies telling lies about Brian Lewis."
Gawker reported that the "financial irregularities" rationale for firing Lewis was a smokescreen for the PR unit's mishandling of an upcoming biography of Ailes by New York's Gabe Sherman.
The Times noted the unprecedented secrecy related to the settlement at Fox News parent 21st Century Fox. Wrote veteran media reporter Bill Carter: "A series of corporate communications executives who work either for the channel or its parent organizations 21st Century Fox and News Corporation, offered the same response to inquiries about the settlement: 'I can’t help you on this.'"
Lewis led PR for CNBC during Ailes' tenure there in the 1990s and he moved to Fox with Ailes in 1996 as VP of media relations.