Fox News founder Roger Ailes dead

Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS ✦ CANADA & BEYOND -

Roger Ailes, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions mae­stro who trans­formed tele­vi­sion news and Amer­ica’s po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion by cre­at­ing and rul­ing Fox News Chan­nel for two decades be­fore be­ing ousted last year for al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment, died Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to his wife, El­iz­a­beth Ailes. He was 77.

The cause of death and where Ailes died was not re­ported.

But ac­cord­ing to the Palm Beach (Florida) Po­lice De­part­ment, a caller con­tacted 911 dis­patch­ers on May 10, say­ing Ailes had fallen in his bath­room, hit his head and was bleed­ing pro­fusely. He was taken to a hospi­tal by at­tend­ing paramedics. Whether he had been re­leased from the hospi­tal since then was not im­me­di­ately clear.

A former GOP op­er­a­tive to can­di­dates in­clud­ing Richard Nixon, Ron­ald Rea­gan and Ge­orge H.W. Bush and a one-time ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Ailes dis­played a mas­tery of mod­ern mes­sag­ing early in his ca­reer. Then he changed the face of 24-hour news when, in 1996, he ac­cepted a chal­lenge from me­dia ti­tan Ru­pert Mur­doch to build a news net­work from scratch to com­pete with CNN and other TV out­lets they deemed left-lean­ing.

That Oc­to­ber, Ailes flipped the switch on Fox News Chan­nel, which within a few years be­came the au­di­ence leader in ca­ble news. Ailes branded the net­work “Fair and Bal­anced” and de­clared he had left the po­lit­i­cal world be­hind, but con­ser­va­tive view­ers found a home and lifted prime-time com­men­ta­tors Bill O’Reilly and Sean Han­nity to the top of the news rat­ings.

“He has dra­mat­i­cally and for­ever changed the po­lit­i­cal and the me­dia landscape sin­gle­hand­edly for the bet­ter,” Han­nity tweeted on Thurs­day.

Fox News and 21st Cen­tury Fox ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Ru­pert Mur­doch called Ailes “a bril­liant broad­caster (who) played a huge role in shap­ing Amer­ica’s me­dia over the last thirty years” in a state­ment.

“He will be re­mem­bered by the many peo­ple on both sides of the cam­era that he dis­cov­ered, nur­tured and pro­moted,” Mur­doch said. “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.”

Others laid the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal dys­func­tion and in­abil­ity to find com­mon ground at his feet, cre­at­ing the at­mos­phere for Trump to suc­ceed.

“It’s a very com­pli­cated story,” said Gabriel Sher­man, au­thor of the Ailes bi­og­ra­phy, “The Loud­est Voice in the Room.” “He is in some ways a ge­nius and in some ways tragic. His quest for power con­sumed him.”

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