Former Fox News co-founder and CEO Roger Ailes has died. He was 77.
“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away,” wrote his widow Elizabeth Ailes. “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.”
According to Palm Beach, Fla. police, Ailes, who had hemophilia, fell and hit his head at his home on May 10. He died early this morning.
Ailes co-founded Fox News in 1996 and led the news channel until he was forced to resign in July 2016 following allegations of sexual harassment. He was facing a lawsuit from Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who said that Ailes told her in September 2015, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.” Ailes had disputed the claims as “false,” “defamatory” and “wholly without merit,” but resigned soon after.
Adweek has covered Ailes’ career and life extensively. After producing entertainment shows in the 1960s, Ailes pivoted to politics, working as a strategist for Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
In a condolence tweet, Former Pres. George H.W. Bush wrote, “He wasn’t perfect, but Roger Ailes was my friend & I loved him. Not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help.”
In 1996, media mogul Rupert Murdoch asked Ailes to help build a new American news channel. “Rupert said, ‘Can you build a network that’ll beat CNN?'” Ailes told Adweek in 2015. “I said, ‘Yeah. It’ll take five years. In the sixth year I’ll beat them. It’ll cost $900 million or a billion dollars and I could lose it all.’ And he never asked me for a business plan.”
In 2007, at the urging of Murdoch, he launched a companion business channel, Fox Business Network.
TVNewser has more information and reaction to Ailes’ sudden death.