Roger Ailes, the cable TV executive who helmed Fox News Channel for nearly 20 years before resigning in July amid mounting claims from former colleagues of sexual harassment, has died. He was 77.
“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” Elizabeth Ailes said in a statement confirming her husband’s passing, Fox News reported. “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.”
Ailes‘ storied career began in 1962 in Cleveland, Ohio, where he produced “The Mike Douglas Show.” His talents noticed by presidential hopeful Richard Nixon in 1967, Ailes was brought on board the Nixon presidential campaign as a media adviser.
He went on to subsequently advise President Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Donald Trump on the campaign trail.
Ailes, a political conservative wary of liberal bias in the news media against GOP candidates, reportedly coached Mr. Bush prior to a testy TV interview with CBS anchor Dan Rather, wherein the mild-mannered vice president pushed back against his interrogator. The episode proved heartening to conservative activists wary of Reagan’s moderate successor in waiting.
He also reportedly was integral in coaching Reagan in his 1984 debate preparation against former Vice President Walter Mondale, coming up with the Gipper’s most famous quip from the second debate that year: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
Ailes was also integral in the early rise of nationally syndicated talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, producing his short-lived syndicated TV program before jumping aboard the business-news network CNBC in 1993.
Three years later, Ailes took the helm at the newly established Fox News Channel, serving as CEO there until his retirement in July 2016, months shy of his 20th anniversary with the network.
Ailes left Fox News in July under a cloud, with mounting allegations of sexual harassment from women who previously worked under his supervision. He denied the allegations made against, but did settle a lawsuit by former “Fox & Friends” host Gretchen Carlson out of court in September.
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