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Fox News executive exits following investigation

Former Fox News Media executive John Finley appears in an undated handout image. (Courtesy photo)
Former Fox News Media executive John Finley appears in an undated handout image. (Courtesy photo)

A Fox News Media executive who oversaw the development of several highly-rated Fox News Channel programs has left the network, according to reports.

The departure of John Finley came after an internal investigation determined he “violated certain standards of business conduct,” a Fox News Media spokesperson told the Washington Post newspaper early Saturday morning.

Finley’s departure was characterized as a parting of ways by the spokesperson, though the Washington Post reported he was actually fired from the network. The newspaper was the first to report on his dismissal, and said he “used his position to benefit someone over who he had influence,” citing that information to an unnamed source.

Finley was employed by Fox News Media for more than two decades, helping its two cable news channels — which includes the Fox Business Network — develop a slate of prime-time and weekend programming that resonated with Fox News Media’s core political audience.

Those shows included “The Five,” an early evening roundtable discussion program that remains the highest-rated cable news show in terms of overall viewership, and the daytime talk show “Outnumbered,” which features four female panelists and “one lucky guy” discussing the day’s top stories and political events.

In 2019, Finley was tapped to oversee the development of Fox News Media’s direct-to-consumer streaming service Fox Nation while simultaneously developing new programming for the two linear Fox cable channels.

“John has played a fundamental part in the development of some of our most successful and signature programs,” Suzanne Scott, the CEO of Fox News and Fox Business, said in a statement at the time. “For nearly two decades, he has been an asset to the network, and we are looking forward to him taking on this new key role in overseeing Fox Nation.”

Finley remained with the network in 2021 after oversight of Fox Nation transferred to former NBC Universal executive Jason Klarman, who continues to lead the streaming service.

Finley was the subject of an internal probe by the human resources department at Fox News after a female staff member levied a misconduct claim against him, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The investigation turned up one problematic email message, the publication said, though Finley was ultimately cleared. (Jeremy Barr, the reporter who broke the story of the investigation for the Hollywood Reporter, also covered Finley’s exit for the Washington Post.)

A spokesperson for Fox News Media later confirmed that the organization made changes to “comfort” the unnamed employee, who eventually left the network.

Finley ultimately went on to develop several other Fox News programs, including “Hannity,” a prime-time opinion program hosted by conservative commentator Sean Hannity.

Finley is the latest high-profile executive from Fox Corporation to leave, or announce their intention to leave, this year. Last month, Fox’s chief legal officer Viet Dinh confirmed he will step down from the role by the end of the year. The announcement came three months after Raj Shah, a senior Fox communications executive, left the company.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that the Washington Post story was published early Saturday morning. An earlier version of this article reported the Post article was published on Friday, based on a time stamp that appeared in the article, which was located to the writer’s time zone (three hours behind Eastern Daylight Time). Additionally, the earlier version of this article said a 2011 probe was conducted by Fox Corporation’s human resources department, and centered around a harassment claim levied by a former staffer. The claim involved allegations of misconduct, and was investigated at the Fox News level.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).