Roger Ailes on Thursday sent a letter to boss Rupert Murdoch in the aftermath of being stripped of his duties as Fox News chief, telling the media mogul that he would not allow "my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done" at the network.
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.
Commenting on the move, Murdoch said: "Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country".
Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson's lawsuit alleges she was forced out by Ailes after she spurned his sexual advances.
With Ailes gone, though, Fox News is now left without a courageous leader to guide its fair and balanced future.
Ailes, a Republican political operative who was the driving force behind the launch of Fox News Channel, had served as CEO since that network's founding twenty years ago.
Wallace said he admired Ailes "tremendously professionally, and loved him personally".
In her lawsuit, Carlson said her career was sabotaged after she refused Ailes' sexual advances.
Reacting to Ailes's resignation, the lawyer for Carlson, Nancy Erika Smith, released a statement that said, in part, "We hope that all businesses now understand that women will no longer tolerate sexual harassment and reputable companies will no longer shield those who abuse women".
Ailes's imprint is all over Fox News, from its on-air talent to its in-your-face production values to an us-against-them mentality that has made it the favorite channel of conservatives.
Ailes continued consulting on presidential campaigns, serving as media consultant for three successful Republicans: Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
After the allegations emerged, some reports said several other women at Fox News had also claimed harassment, including the popular host Megyn Kelly. "They clearly don't have an immediate successor, and Ailes' lieutenants are loyal to Roger so they will have to be carefully evaluated".
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Before the claims, Fox's sheer success had insulated Ailes despite some previous scrapes with the Murdoch sons over who he would report to. He will continue to make himself available as an adviser to Murdoch on an interim basis, the two people said, though he will not be directly involved with Fox News or its owner, 21st Century Fox. Some said they believed that Ailes' exit was a power play by the Murdoch sons, who are said to dislike Ailes.
"For Fox News, it is like losing a parent", said Jon Klein, former president of Fox News rival CNN who spent years going head-to-head against Ailes.
The blustery Ailes built a network that both transformed the news business and changed the political conversation.
Having the elder Murdoch in charge will also ensure that Fox News will keep its tone and maintain its appeal to viewers who want to see more conservative viewpoints represented.