PALM BEACH, FL. (CelebrityAccess) — Roger E. Ailes, who helped to elect three presidents and led the influential conservative Fox News for three decades before being forced out in a sexual harassment scandal last year, has died. He was 77.
According to the New York Times, Mr. Ailes’s wife, Elizabeth, announced his death in a statement, which did not give a cause or say where he had died. However, the Times reported that the police in Palm Beach, Fla., said a 77-year-old man had fallen and struck his head in a bathroom at Mr. Ailes’s home in Palm Beach, Fla.
An Ohio native, Ailes started his career in local television, working at KYW-TV where he produced then-locally produced talk-variety show, The Mike Douglas Show. It was here that Ailes came to the attention of presidential candidate Richard Nixon when the two had a debate about the utility of television in politics when Nixon was a guest on the show in 1967.
Ailes would go to serve as Nixon's executive producer for television and helped to redefine how political campaigns interacted with the medium.
After Nixon, Ailes would go on to work on campaigns for Ronald Reagan and was credited as one of the keys to George H. W. Bush's victories in the 1992 presidential campaign.
In 1996, after a brief, uncomfortable stint at NBC, Ailes became the founding CEO of Rupert Murdoch's conservative cable news network Fox News, where he would remain until 2016.
Under Ailes leadership, Fox News became the dominant cable news channel for the better part of two decades and one of the top ten overall cable channels by ratings.
Ailes was forced out of his role at Fox in 2016 in the wake of a series of sexual harassment allegations from former staffers, including former Fox News anchors Gretchen Carlson who filed a lawsuit against Ailes, who alleged that she was forced out after refusing Ailes' sexual advances. The lawsuits were settled out of court but the damage was done and Ailes resigned from Fox in July 2016 with a reported $40 million exit agreement.
In a statement released after news of Ailes' death broke, Rupert Murdoch wrote:
"A brilliant broadcaster, Roger played a huge role in shaping America's media over the last 30 years. He will be remembered by the many people on both sides of the camera that he discovered, nurtured and promoted. Roger and I shared a big idea, which he executed in a way no one else could have. In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs."
Ailes is survived by his wife Elizabeth Ailes and their 17-year-old son, Zachary. – Staff Writers