Roger Ailes, pioneer who turned Fox News into a powerhouse, dies

Roger Ailes, pioneer who turned Fox News into a powerhouse, dies

Roger Ailes (May 15, 1940 - May 18, 2017) (Wesley Mann/Courtesy of Fox News)

WASHINGTON – Roger Ailes, the former chairman and CEO of Fox News who revolutionized television news, died Thursday, his wife revealed. He turned 77 on Monday.

Elizabeth Ailes, 56, a former media executive, released a statement about her husband of 19 years to Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report.

“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,” the statement reads.

Ailes revolutionized cable news – and arguably the entire American political landscape – when he founded Fox News in October 1986. The conservative channel gave the far right a voice on television and Fox News became the No. 1 network within six years.

He was named chairman of Fox Television Station Group in August 2005.

Prior to creating his television empire, Ailes worked as a political consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Ailes also worked on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s first mayor campaign. Ailes advised Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, helping him to prepare for debates.

Ailes resigned from Fox News under pressure on July 21, 2016 due to numerous sexual harassment allegations. He left with the $40 million owed on his contract. Owner Rupert Murdoch took over as chairman and interim CEO.

Fox News anchor Sean Hannity tweeted his condolences to Ailes’ family as well as numerous tributes to the man who hired him in 1996.

“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.”

Geraldo Rivera, Brit Hume, and  Laura Ingraham were among the the journalists who praised Ailes in tweets.

Ailes, a hemophiliac who was born in the factory town of Warren, Ohio, was hospitalized numerous times as a child and consequently developed a matter-of-fact attitude about mortality. In an excerpt from the 2013 biography “Roger Ailes Off Camera,” Ailes said he knew his days were numbered.

“My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately,” he told author Zev Chafets, shortly before turning 72. “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.”

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