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Ex-Fox News executive Brian Lewis dismisses speculation on his exit

Fox News Channel (tv network)News MediaRoger Ailes Media IndustryFox Broadcasting CompanyTwentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Brian Lewis, the fired Fox News executive vice president, is declining to fire back at his former bosses who accused him of breach of contract and financial misconduct.

In a brief interview, Lewis said he had a "great 20 years" working for Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes and declined to get into the specifics of what led to his departure or the charges leveled at him. As for the nastiness surrounding the situation, Lewis said, "it comes with the territory."

The exit of Lewis took the insular world of television news by surprise, as did the harshness of the statement from Fox News parent 21st Century Fox, which said Lewis was guilty of "multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract." 

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The departure led to a slew of stories and speculation about what specifically fractured his once-close relationship with Ailes. Among the rumors was that Lewis had been covertly assisting New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman on his much-anticipated book on Ailes and Fox News.

Lewis would not address any of the reports specifically but said some were "pure fiction" and added, "people are going to say what they are going to say." He also declined to comment on whether the blowup with his bosses was the result of a contract dispute that went awry.

The senior communications executive at Fox News since it launched in 1996, Lewis was seen as one of Ailes' key executives for many years and the architect of Fox's no-holds-barred approach to the press and competing news channels.

Some Fox News executives and talent weighed in on the matter and attacked the notion that Lewis was a key member of Ailes' team. In her blog, Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren wrote, "No one inside Fox ever talked about Brian as the #2 or the force behind Roger or the success of the Fox News Channel."

When asked about his former colleagues' comments, Lewis said, "I wish nothing but the best for the people at Fox News."

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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Fox News Channel (tv network)News MediaRoger Ailes Media IndustryFox Broadcasting CompanyTwentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
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