Fox News Lifts Ban on Pants for Female Anchors (Update)

Fox News is still feeling the fallout of Roger Ailes and change at the network is moving slowly. 

But, it does appear that the ban on pants for female Anchors has been lifted. Yes, the Ailes skirts only rule is no more, but so far we have yet to see a female talent in anything but a skirt. 

But, pants or no pants, NY Mag says that inside Fox News, morale is sinking. “It’s the worst I’ve seen it,” a female manager said.

Employees don’t know when the harassment and racial-discrimination lawsuits will stop. “I have people asking, ‘Are we having budget cuts to pay for sexual-harassment lawsuits?’ ” the manager told me.

Employees wonder why Rupert Murdoch is allowing the slow drip of negative headlines to continue when he could answer them with a major change in management.

The article goes on to say, still, in many ways, Murdoch’s response to this crisis at Fox News is following the contours of his reaction to the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed his British tabloids six years ago. Then, as now, Murdoch protected tarnished executives such as former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks. The phone-hacking episode forced Murdoch to shutter the 168-year-old News of the World and abandon his initial takeover bid for Sky. The price this time won’t be the closing of Fox News, Murdoch’s most-profitable asset, but for the first time in years Fox faces real competition. Last week, Sinclair Broadcasting announced a $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune’s TV stations, giving the conservative broadcasting company a coast-to-coast footprint. There’s speculation Sinclair could try to poach Sean Hannity or bring O’Reilly out of exile.

Some wonder if a kinder, gentler Fox News can replicate the ratings success that Ailes’s authoritarian culture maintained for 20 years. Under Ailes, Fox anchors and executives marched in lockstep, keeping off-camera drama out of view and working together to sell Ailes’s point of view. Now Hannity takes to Twitter to accuse a colleague of plotting to get Bill Shine fired, and competition from the left and the further-right has left Fox News with a programming challenge. The Murdochs are quietly looking for a new programming executive to run the network. According to sources, James wants to recruit David Rhodes from CBS News (Rhodes is under contract). Rupert is interested in Wall Street Journal editor Gerry Baker, or Rebekah Brooks. One source said Rupert’s daughter Elisabeth is also being discussed as a candidate.

Any of these hires would be a radical departure from Ailes, but none more so than Elisabeth. A seasoned television executive in her own right, Elisabeth has positioned herself as a firm critic of the scandals that have resulted from her father’s management choices. In 2010, her ex-husband Matthew Freud told the New York Times: “I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes’s horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standards.” The following year, Elisabeth refused a seat on the News Corp. board to register her disgust at the phone-hacking scandal. She said phone hacking raised “significant and difficult questions” about how News Corp. “fell so far short of its values.” Elisabeth’s return to the fold would be a powerful signal that Fox News is entering a new era. But as long as her father is still running the show, Fox News will likely stay very much the same.

Updated: A source says that many of the women of Fox News are indeed wearing pants on the air. They even included some pictures. As we said, FTVLive has not yet seen it, but then again, we try to watch as little cable news as possible. 

Still no word if Steve Doocy or the guy that sits across from Steve Doocy are now wearing pants, or still just wearing skirts?