CA­BLE-NEWS LE­GEND DIES

Fox News trail­blazer Ailes was 77

New York Post - - DON DEFIANT - By LIA EUSTACHEWICH

Roger Ailes, Fox News’ found­ing CEO who shaped the net­work into a force in Amer­i­can politics, died Thurs­day morn­ing, more than a week af­ter suf­fer­ing a head in­jury at his Florida home. He turned 77 on Mon­day. His wife, El­iz­a­beth, said she was “heart­bro­ken” in an­nounc­ing his pass­ing.

“Roger was a lov­ing hus­band to me, to his son Zachary and a loyal friend to many,” she said in a state­ment. “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.”

The War­ren, Ohio-born Ailes grad­u­ated from Ohio Univer­sity in 1962 af­ter ma­jor­ing in ra­dio and tele­vi­sion.

He was hired by me­dia ti­tan Ru­pert Mur­doch in 1996 as the found­ing CEO of Fox News Chan­nel, the ca­ble brand he built from the ground up into the $3 bil­lion po­lit­i­cal pow­er­house it is to­day.

Coin­ing Fox’s trade­mark slo­gan “Fair and Bal­anced,” Ailes de­liv­ered the news through a con­ser­va­tive fil­ter, cre­at­ing a coun­ter­part to lib­eral net­works MSNBC and CNN.

“If we look con­ser­va­tive, it’s be­cause the other guys are so far to the left,” Ailes once told The New York Times Mag­a­zine.

When it launched, Fox News reached only 17 mil­lion view­ers, less than one-third of CNN’s po­ten­tial au­di­ence. Ailes stacked his 24/7 news net­work with con­ser­va­tive talk­ing heads, and pro­pelled the ca­reers of fire­brands Bill O’Reilly and Sean Han­nity.

“To­day, Amer­ica lost one of its great pa­tri­otic war­riors,” Han­nity wrote in a se­ries of tweets. “He has dra­mat­i­cally and for­ever changed the po­lit­i­cal and the me­dia landscape, sin­gle-hand­edly for the bet­ter.”

“In many ways he was like a sec­ond fa­ther af­ter I lost my fa­ther 6 months af­ter I started at FNC in 3/97. I am for­ever grate­ful,” Han­nity added.

To­day, Fox News con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate in the rat­ings. In Jan­uary, it cel­e­brated 15 straight years as the most-watched ca­ble-news net­work.

Prior to his long-run­ning stint as a TV trail­blazer, Ailes, who also served as a top ex­ec­u­tive at MSNBC in the 1990s just be­fore join­ing Fox, was a Repub­li­can Party op­er­a­tive. He worked on the cam­paigns of Pres­i­dents Richard Nixon and Ron­ald Rea­gan and helped drive Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s 1988 pres­i­den­tial vic­tory with strate­gic TV ad­ver­tis­ing.

Ailes also re­port­edly ad­vised Pres­i­dent Trump ahead of the de­bates against Hil­lary Clin­ton.

On May 10, Ailes fell and hit his head in the bath­room of his beach­front home in Palm Beach, Fla., ac­cord­ing to a 911 re­port ob­tained by The Post.

The Palm Beach County Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner’s Of­fice de­ter­mined Ailes died from bleed­ing on the brain caused by the fall.

Ailes’ ca­reer at Fox abruptly came to an end last year amid sex­ual-ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions by em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing former an­chor Gretchen Carl­son. He ve­he­mently de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, but Fox even­tu­ally paid $20 mil­lion to set­tle Carl­son’s claims.

In a state­ment, Fox News Ex­ecu- tive Chair­man Mur­doch — who is also ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of News Corp., which owns The Post — called Ailes a “bril­liant broad­caster” who “played a huge role in shap­ing Amer­ica’s me­dia over the last 30 years.”

“Roger and I shared a big idea, which he ex­e­cuted in a way no one else could have,” Mur­doch said. “Roger was a great pa­triot who never ceased fight­ing for his be­liefs.”

HEAD­LINE MAKER: Roger Ailes in 1997 ex­ults in an­nounc­ing that Fox News had landed on New York City ca­ble screens.

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