Fox News

Roger Ailes, Fox News founder, has died at 77

This story has been updated. 

Roger Ailes, the former Fox News chief executive, has died, according to a report on the Drudge Report website.

A statement from Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth, said: “I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. 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. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life.” He was 77.

Ailes, the former CEO and chairman of Fox News, left the corporation under a cloud in July after he had been accused of sexual harassment by former employees. By the time he died, at least six women who worked at Fox had publicly accused Ailes of sexual harassment and abuse.

Before working at Fox, Ailes was employed as a media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, as well as a consultant on Rudy Giuliani’s New York mayoral campaign.

During his 20-year run at Fox News, Ailes built the most successful TV news channel of all time. The key to his success was applying the tools and tricks that he learned in his earlier career as a Republican media consultant, eschewing the traditionally nonpartisan approach of other major broadcast networks.

Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox and Fox News Channel, issued a statement Thursday, calling Ailes “a brilliant broadcaster”:

“Roger played a huge role in shaping America’s media over the last thirty years. He will be remembered by people on both sides of the camera that he discovered, nurtured and promoted. Roger and I shared a big idea in which he executed in a way no one else could have. In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his believes.”

Ailes-led Fox News cheerlead the impeachment proceedings and investigation of Bill Clinton, fanned the flames of the Tea Party revolution, and encouraged the rightward lurch of the Republican Party — all the while, as detailed in Ailes’ widely read 1988 book “You Are the Message,” staffing his show with “likable” personalities who became stars in their own right.

The biggest of the Fox News stars, Bill O’Reilly, was also recently forced out from Fox News under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations similar to those against Ailes. At the time O’Reilly left last month, his 7 p.m. show had been the most-watched in all of cable news for nearly 15 years.

Ailes’ family did not say mention the cause of his death. However, New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports that Ailes, who suffered from hemophilia, died of complications related to a fall in Palm Beach last week.

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