Fox News Channel celebrated 20 years on the air Friday morning with a gathering at the channel's Manhattan headquarters in a new $30 million, state-of-the-art studio set to be revealed on Election Day. Co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy presided over the 10 a.m. gathering during which they obliquely acknowledged the reign of founding chairman Roger Ailes, who was ousted last July amid sexual harassment allegations.
"Today is about looking back at 20 news-packed years and then looking ahead to doing even more journalism," said Shine, according to people who attended the meeting. "We understand for the last few years there has been a lack of communication from the top; Jack and I are set to fix that."
Abernethy pointed out that there were almost 200 people who have been with the network since its inception; Shine is among them. "Our records show that about a little over 190 people have been here from the very beginning, continuously. Most of you, like me, have been here for only a portion of that time. As I get reacquainted with folks, I find tremendous amount of pride in what we do here."
Abernethy added that he and Shine are focused on a mandate to "innovate," noting the new studio as a step toward that goal and that FoxNews.com and the company's digital ventures would also be revamped. And he noted that the network's ratings "are higher than they have ever been."
Both men stressed that the network would move forward as a team. Shine singled out Rupert Murdoch for his leadership amid the recent crisis. "Having Rupert, the founder of Fox News and our executive chairman, with us and running the company has been a wonderful experience," Shine said. "He loves this company and only wants it to continue to thrive."
Murdoch was in Los Angeles on Friday, but in a memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, he harkened to Fox News Channel's beginnings as an iconoclastic outpost founded in the spirit of challenging "the establishment."
Murdoch's full memo:
20 years ago, we created and launched a news network determined to challenge the establishment and deliver fair and balanced news. Today, I look back at what we have accomplished and I couldn't be more proud. We have changed the face of television news and the industry at large.
Not only has FOX News been the number one rated cable news channel on television for nearly 15 years, but we routinely place atop basic cable, beating out stalwarts such as ESPN, USA, TBS and AMC. This is a feat that was unheard of just 20 years ago, yet has become commonplace today, thanks to the hard work, determination and creative thinking of everyone here.
For the past two decades, we've been charting new territory with both our journalism and opinion programming. FOX News innovations like the news crawl have now become industry standards and our recent initiatives like the FOX News Deck play a pivotal role in our ability to stay ahead of the competition during breaking news. We've also cultivated the best news and analysis teams in the business - a roster largely composed of both homegrown star journalists and opinion hosts, all of whom are immensely talented.
As we enter our third decade, FOX News is still continuing to achieve new milestones. This year we are on track to have our highest rated year ever, our own Chris Wallace will be the first FOX News anchor to moderate a presidential debate, and we are currently the most engaged news brand on social media.
The majority of our success, however, comes from our commitment to delivering the fair and balanced news coverage that our viewers have grown to trust and depend on. It has been tremendously inspiring to watch FOX News flourish these past 20 years, and I am beyond excited for the network to continue its dominance into our next decade.
Congratulations to the entire staff, and thank you for helping to build this great national institution.