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R.I.P. Roger Ailes, Fox News founder and ex-CEO

Photo: Fox News / Getty Images

Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News who was forced from his position as chairman and CEO of the right-leaning news organization last year amid charges of sexual harassment, has died. The news was first broken by Drudge Report, which ran a statement from Ailes’ wife Elizabeth which reads:

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 have 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…


Shortly thereafter, Ailes’ own Fox News confirmed the report. No cause of death was given. He was 77.

Born the son of a foreman in the factory town of Warren, Ohio, Ailes graduated from Ohio University with a degree in radio and television in 1962. After a stint working on The Mike Douglas Show, Richard Nixon recruited Ailes to serve as his Executive Producer for television. Charged with making Nixon more likable and relatable to America’s youth, Ailes succeeded so well that the gig launched his new career as a political consultant. His clients included Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, during whose presidential campaign Ailes masterminded the infamous “Revolving Door” scare campaign that brought down Michael Dukakis.

In 1992, Ailes officially retired from political consulting, but unofficially continued advising the Bush family. He parlayed his status as a GOP insider into access to Republican politicians on the Fox News network, of which he was named founding CEO in 1996. In 2005, Ailes was named Chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group, a position he held along with being chairman of Twentieth Television, MyNetwork TV, and Fox Business Network. In 2016, he was forced to resign from his position amid multiple charges of sexual harassment from current and former employees, including prominent Fox News TV personalities like Gretchen Carlson. Last month, Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed the most recent round of lawsuits against Ailes and Fox, alleging that he offered her a promotion in exchange for sex.

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