Although multiple reports pointed toward a sudden end for Roger Ailes' long tenure atop Fox News Tuesday evening, conflicting information from the media and the network's public relations team left the exact terms of his departure uncertain.
A rollercoaster day of anonymously sourced reports regarding Ailes' status at the network gained a note of finality after The New York Times reported he is "in the advanced stages" of a negotiation to leave the network, attributing the information to "a person briefed on the discussions."
It was the latest in a story that took several twists since this morning, when New York's Gabriel Sherman reported that 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, had given Ailes until Aug. 1 to resign in the wake of testimony alleging he made "unwanted sexual advances" toward host Megyn Kelly.
Ailes' lawyer denied that allegation, which came in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson earlier this month that threatened Ailes' standing at the network.
Later in the day, The Drudge Report tweeted an image of a separation agreement between Roger Ailes and 21st Century Fox, Fox News' parent company, that appeared to guarantee the network chairman millions in severance upon his departure. Drudge subsequently deleted that image and replaced it with a statement made on Ailes' behalf, but not before the initial report was aggregated by several other outlets.
The Daily Beast then reported that Fox News confirmed Ailes' impending exit, a statement that the network subsequently walked back.
21st Century Fox responded to the reports by tweeting that Ailes "is at work," which neither confirms nor denies reports of his ouster.
21CF statement: Roger is at work. The review is ongoing. The only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement.
— 21st Century Fox (@21CF) July 19, 2016
It's hard to overstate the significance of Ailes' departure from Fox News, a network he built into a ratings powerhouse over a span of nearly two decades. Along the way, he helped create the network's biggest personalities, including Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity.
In the weeks since Carlson leveled allegations against Ailes, media reporters have tried to imagine the network's future without its founding CEO.
On July 10, Politico noted that scions of media baron Rupert Murdoch might usher in a less ideologically motivated era at Fox News. Earlier today, CNN noted that Ailes has no immediate heir, and that the chairman's departure could trigger an exodus of the network's top talent.