Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News, died suddenly last night. He was 77.
Ailes personally changed the news landscape, and went on to change America itself, leading a new rise of conservatism tied to the news network.
Fos News issued this statement.
His widow, Elizabeth Ailes, confirmed the news in a statement.
“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” the statement read. “Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise—and to give back.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity tweeted his tributes to his onetime boss in a series of messages.
“Today, America lost one of its great patriotic warriors,” Hannity tweeted. “He has dramatically and forever changed the political and the media landscape, single-handedly for the better.”
Ailes left Fox News under a cloud of controversy last August. The sequence of events that led to his departure began when Gretchen Carlson sued him after her contract as a daytime Fox host was not renewed. Ailes strongly denied her allegations of sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
At the time of Ailes’ his departure, Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp who would then take the reins of Fox, said, “Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country … Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.”
“Roger Ailes founded one of the most important and successful media outlets in American history,” said conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. “I will miss his friendship dearly.”
Ailes was born in Warren, Ohio, and attended Ohio University in Athens, where he majored in radio and television. After graduating in 1962, he launched his career in black and white-era television by working for then-local personality Mike Douglas. When the show was syndicated a few years later, Ailes star rose with it.
It was during a 1967 appearance on The Mike Douglas Show that Ailes met future president Richard Nixon, who later tapped him to serve as his executive producer for television.
That experience began a decades-long dual track in which Ailes cast long shadows over both televsion and politics, culminating in his founding of Fox News.
In 1984, Ailes worked on President Reagan’s re-election campaign. Four years later, he was a key player in the successful presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush. helping to plot effective messaging and television advertising strategies.
As recently at last fall’s election, and after his career at Fox had ended, Ailes reportedly advised President Trump in preparation for debates.
Ailes and Elizabeth were married in 1998. Their son son, Zachary, was born on New Year’s Day 2000.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.