Fox News host Shepard Smith issued a tearful tribute to former Fox News CEO and founder Roger Ailes Thursday afternoon.
“I loved him,” Mr. Smith, who was hired at the network’s inception in 1996, said in a more than 12-minute, on-air eulogy.
“Being in the public eye is rewarding but comes with many challenges,” he said. “Roger knew that. He tried to prepare me for that and lead me through it.
“When an extortionist and blackmailer entered my life and the lives of my family, he held my hand and saw me to the other side. When details of my personal life became public, he supported me,” the openly gay host continued.
At one point, Mr. Smith grabbed a tissue to gather himself.
“Then last year, we began to learn of another side of Roger Ailes, another part of his life. I didn’t believe it could be true at first,” he said. “This man I so admired, despite our differences. It all came to a head as hundreds of us were in Cleveland for the Republican convention. The accusations were mortifying. All cameras were trained on us. All of them. We were the news. Tears flowed daily off camera.
“He told me keep up the good work. Keep everybody motivated and on point. We’ll get through this. I love you. That was the last we spoke,” Mr. Smith said. “He left the company and the rest is history unfolding. To the true victims: respect and comfort. It’s all so complicated. Everything here was and is, as he was.
“Roger Ailes was a patriot,” he said. “He changed my life and the lives of everyone in my family forever for generations to come. He guided me and supported me and protected me and he told me he loved me like a father.”
Mr. Ailes died Thursday morning in Palm Beach, Florida, after falling and hitting his head days earlier. The former Fox News head, 77, had suffered from hemophilia, a rare blood disorder, his entire life.
Mr. Ailes resigned from Fox News in July following allegations that he sexually harassed several female colleagues. He strongly denied the claims.
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