CABLE-NEWS LEGEND DIES
Fox News trailblazer Ailes was 77
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.