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Scandal-hit Roger Ailes resigns as head of Fox News

The resignation was effective immediately and that Murdoch, 85, would take over the roles of chairman and acting chief executive

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Roger Ailes, who built Fox News into a politically powerful cable network, resigned Thursday under the cloud of a sexual harassment lawsuit. He was replaced by Rupert Murdoch, head of parent company 21st Century Fox and founder of the empire that included Fox.

The company said in a statement that the resignation was effective immediately and that Murdoch, 85, would take over the roles of chairman and acting chief executive of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.

The news comes two weeks after Ailes was named in a lawsuit by popular Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who claimed she was fired for rejecting Ailes’s sexual advances. The company statement Thursday made no mention of the lawsuit or its review of the allegations.

Rupert Murdoch thus returns to a bigger role a year after handing over more control of operations to his two sons. “Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country,” Murdoch said in the statement.

“Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.” He added: “I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice. Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country.”

Ailes, a former consultant to Republican presidents, had been a key figure in the media empire and a longtime ally of Murdoch. The sexual harassment suit filed in New Jersey state court said Ailes terminated Carlson, a popular host and former Miss America, as a retaliatory act.

Ailes “unlawfully retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment,” the lawsuit alleged.