Behind-the-scenes executive takes starring role at Fox News.
By Michael M. Grynbaum, New York Times News Service
Bill Shine, the newly appointed co-president of Fox News, commutes two hours every morning from Long Island to Midtown Manhattan, leaving his house so early that, as he tells colleagues, "the other guys on the train all have Sheetrock on their boots."
He is seen in the newsroom as embodying a typical Fox News viewer: an Irish-Catholic family man, son of a New York City police officer. His wife is the author of Happy Housewives , an ode to female empowerment through 1950s-style domesticity. (Sample advice: "Don't Nag Him to Death.")
For years, Shine was known as an affable and loyal right-hand man to Roger Ailes, the now-deposed Fox News chairman, who relied on him to handle delicate matters with personnel. In 2011, when Sarah Palin, then a Fox News contributor, infuriated Ailes by breaking news on a rival media outlet, it was Shine who called her agent to clean up the mess.
Now Shine, a consummate behind-the-scenes player, is moving to centre stage. On Friday, he was placed in charge of news and programming at Fox News and the Fox Business Network, where he will lead a newsroom still reeling from Ailes' sudden fall last month and a groundswell of allegations of harassment.
It is an unusually public role for Shine, 53, who is little known outside his industry and shies from the more glamorous side of television that other prominent news chieftains, like CNN's Jeffrey Zucker and NBC's Andrew Lack, tend to relish. Shine has never been profiled by a major magazine, and there are few public photographs of him besides his official head shot. Through a Fox News spokeswoman, he declined to be interviewed for this article.
But to many inside Fox's newsroom, Shine's promotion came as a relief. He joined the network in 1996, the year it was founded, and he is close with prominent anchors like Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity, who recommended him to Ailes.
"He'll hear concerns, he'll hear criticisms, he will make decisions," said Robert Barnett, the Washington lawyer who has jousted with Shine on behalf of Palin and other clients. One media executive, echoing others who said they preferred the approachable Shine to the mercurial Ailes, put it this way: "If I had to call Roger, I'd call Bill if I could."
Still, Shine is emphatically a member of the network's old guard, with a reputation as a corporate survivor and an assiduous flatterer. Some at Fox wondered if he would be kept on after his name, along with those of other executives, surfaced in recent accounts by two women who accused Ailes of harassment.
Andrea Tantaros, a daytime host, said that when she complained about Ailes to Shine, he held an issue of Variety with Ailes' picture on the cover and said, "Don't fight this." Shine, through a spokeswoman, said Tantaros never approached him about Ailes' harassing her.
Laurie Luhn, a former booker at Fox, told New York magazine that Ailes enlisted Shine to recommend doctors and make travel arrangements for her while she was involved in a relationship with Ailes. Shine has told associates that he never knew that the two were romantically involved.
In the television industry, Shine's promotion was taken as a sign that Rupert Murdoch, who is now executive chairman of Fox News, does not intend a full-scale removal of people who worked closely with Ailes. It also suggested that Murdoch is enamoured of Shine, who is now tasked with leading Fox News as CNN's ratings surge and some popular anchors have suggested they may retire or leave the network.
Silver-haired and bearded - with a facial scar picked up from a rowdy night in college - Shine is a Long Island native, who grew up past where the island's electrified train tracks end. After college, he worked as a producer at local stations there. He married a fellow producer, Darla Seneck, and met Hannity, who was soon to start at Fox News.
Producing Hannity & Colmes , Shine showed a knack for earning ratings and managing talent, quickly winning Ailes' trust. When Van Susteren was lured to Fox from CNN, Shine was put in charge of her prime-time show.
In news meetings, Shine is known less for voicing strident political views than for suggesting segments that prove popular with viewers, like stories about the gas tax. At Christmastime, he treats executive producers to lunch at a Midtown steakhouse.
He can also be blunt when he needs to be. When Liz Claman, a Fox Business anchor, complained to Shine last year about what she viewed as too much politics in the coverage, Shine dismissed her complaint by noting that her ratings were among the lowest on the channel, according to a former employee at the network with direct knowledge of the conversation.
His carrot-and-stick style impressed Ailes, who often asked Shine to handle an upset anchor. It was Shine who informed Hannity, in 2010, that he could not headline a Tea Party rally in Ohio; the two remain close.
In 2004, Shine was directed by Ailes to mollify Susan Estrich, a lawyer and Fox News contributor, who was upset after the Democratic convention in Boston when fellow Democrats criticised her for appearing on the network, according to two executives familiar with the discussion. (Estrich is now defending Ailes in the harassment case brought against him by the former Fox host Gretchen Carlson.)
Shine, a twin, was one of four children and grew up in a household where, according to his wife's book, his parents sometimes went weeks without speaking. "He always said he would never want this for his marriage," Darla Shine wrote, describing her husband as someone who doted on their children and a romantic who likes to dance on dates.
"Eat your hearts out," she wrote. "He makes the beds on the weekend and will even do a few loads of laundry (including folding and putting away)."
Darla Shine's book, published in 2005 by Judith Regan, then an executive at Fox News' parent company, was a response to the series Desperate Housewives . The book urged women to "shut up, stop whining, and for goodness' sake, stop nagging your husband."
Darla Shine appeared on the Today show, and Bill Shine told Newsday that he was unembarrassed by the sections in the book about the couple's intimate life. "Hopefully, it'll start a conversation between women and men and husbands and wives," he told the paper.
For Bill Shine, it was a rare foray into the spotlight. In 20 years at Fox, he has eaten lunch at Michael's, the Midtown media hangout, just once. Only this past year did he rent a Manhattan apartment to accommodate his longer hours.
"What I love most about Bill is he's a regular guy," Maria Bartiromo, the Fox Business anchor, wrote in an email, in which she credited Shine for an increase in her ratings. "Very steady, very smart, and very genuine. He tells you the way it is. I appreciate that."
Fox News remains influential in Republican politics, but Shine is not registered in a political party. His wife, on her blog, occasionally delves into politics, writing last month, "I am afraid of our debt, afraid for my children, afraid we have lost the American dream." She has also described her concerns about the health effects of vaccinations.
She writes glowingly about her husband. Among the glimpses into their life are photographs from last year's White House Correspondents Dinner. In one image, Bill Shine, in formal wear, is seen posing with eight female Fox anchors at his side.
"Wow," Darla Shine wrote. "My husband is one lucky guy."
[c] Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2017. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. ( Syndigate.info ).
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|Publication:||Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)|
|Date:||Aug 21, 2016|
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