Roger Ailes, the longtime Fox News frontman credited with turning the conservative news station into a powerful force within media, has died.
Ailes was the Fox News co-founder who resigned last summer amid a highly-publicized sexual harassment scandal. His wife, Elizabeth Ailes, confirmed in a statement that he died on Thursday.
Elizabeth Ailes said in a statement that she was “profoundly sad and heartbroken” to report that he had died surrounded by his family. “Roger was my best friend, the most wonderful loving husband and father to our son Zachary. He was a loyal friend to so many,” she said in the statement. “Roger was a patriot, grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise-and to give back. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, politics, and news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life.”
Ailes suffered from health complications for most of his life, after being diagnosed with hemophilia as a child.
Ailes had spoken about his health issues with Vanity Fair in 2013. He said, “My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately. The actuaries say I have six to eight years. The best tables give me 10. Three thousand days, more or less. I’d give anything for another 10 years. I’ve been prepared to face death all of my life,” he added. “When it comes, I’ll be fine, calm. I’ll miss life, though. Especially my family.”
Ailes helped found Fox in 1996. He turned it into must-watch television. Under his leaderhsip, Fox became the number-one rated cable news channel, and has consistently led ratings over the past 15 years.
He first got his start as a producer in Ohio working on The Mike Douglas Show. In 1968, he advised then-President Richard Nixon to use television to speak more directly to voters. He went on to advise former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Ailes also advised President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. In return, Trump defended Ailes after the sexual harassment allegations surfaced last year.
Ailes’ death comes less than one year after he was let go from Fox News following multiple allegations of sexual harassment by former and current female employees.
According to HuffPost, the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox announced in a quarterly report this month. The report stated that it has had to pay a total of $45 million in costs “related to settlements of pending and potential litigations following the July 2016 resignation of the Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel after a public complaint was filed containing allegations of sexual harassment.” Following his departure from Fox, Ailes reportedly received a payout of much as $40 million.
The sexual allegations came to surface when Former “Fox and Friends” co-host Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes for sexually harassing her on numerous occasions. They eventually settled for $20 million. However, after the settlement, more than 20 other women came forward with similar allegations against the Fox News chairman.
Just last month, former star anchor Bill O’Reilly was let go after news of his multiple sexual harassment claims came to surface. Recently, Bill Shine, who was set to run the network when Ailes left, resigned last week. The resignation came amid allegations that he worked to cover up more sexual harassment and racial discrimination reports.
Check out some tweets from some Fox news correspondents below.