Of­fi­cials: Ailes died af­ter fall in Palm Beach home

Fox News chief was he­mo­phil­iac

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Stephen Battaglio and Meg James

Roger Ailes, founder and long­time head of Fox News — who also worked as an ad­viser to Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates from Richard Nixon to Don­ald Trump — died Thurs­day from com­pli­ca­tions af­ter he fell and in­jured his head last week at his Palm Beach home.

He­mo­philia con­trib­uted to Ailes’ death, Palm Beach County Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner Dr. Michael Bell said Thurs­day. His death­was ac­ci­den­tal, with no ev­i­dence of foul play, he said.

A caller con­tacted 911 dis­patch­ers May 10, say­ing Ailes had fallen in his bath­room in Palm Beach, hit hishead and­was bleed­ing pro­fusely,

ac­cord­ing to the po­lice. He was taken to a hos­pi­tal by paramedics.

“I am pro­foundly sad and heart­bro­ken to re­port that my hus­band, Roger Ailes, passed away this morn­ing,” his wife, El­iz­a­beth Ailes, said in a state­ment. “Roger was a lov­ing hus­band to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. 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 for­mer Fox News chair­man was cred­ited with mak­ing the chan­nel a rat­ings pow­er­house over his 20 years at the helm. He went on to cre­ate a cable news jug­ger­naut that pro­vided an out­let for con­ser­va­tives who felt their views were un­der-rep­re­sented by the three broad­cast net­works.

Fox News also would al­ter how Amer­i­cans view the me­dia, ush­er­ing in the era of per­son­al­ity-driven, opin­ion­ated jour­nal­ism that now­dom­i­nates the cable news busi­ness.

“Roger Ailes un­der­stood the power of tele­vi­sion to shape the pub­lic agenda more than most, and he used it to great par­ti­san ef­fect in sup­port­ing an ide­ol­ogy fo­cused on con­ser­va­tives,” said RichHan­ley, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of jour­nal­ism at Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity.

Ailes’ death caps a pe­riod of tur­moil at Fox News, which is still fac­ing law­suits and a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into how set­tle­ment claims were paid un­der his 20-year watch at the net­work. Ailes was ousted in July 2016 af­ter em­bar­rass­ing al­le­ga­tions that he had sex­u­ally ha­rassed for­mer an­chor Gretchen Carl­son. He dis­missed the al­le­ga­tions, but faced ad­di­tional claims of mis­con­duct and Fox News paid $20 mil­lion to set­tle the suit.

He also was a sub­ject of an on­go­ing fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether 21st Cen­tury Fox vi­o­lated any se­cu­ri­ties laws in its han­dling of pay­ments to women to re­solve sex­ual ha­rass­ment claims.

But while he ex­ited in dis­grace, Ailes’ legacy as a pow­er­ful force in the­me­dia busi­ness and the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal cul­ture will be last­ing.

“No one did more to change the me­dia land­scape than Roger Ailes, but no me­dia ex­ec­u­tive did more to di­vide Amer­ica,” said Joe Pey­ron­nin, a for­mer net­work news ex­ec­u­tive who worked for Fox be­fore Ailes was hired to launch the news chan­nel. “Ailes was a bril­liant TV ex­ec­u­tive who saw an op­por­tu­nity two decades ago to build a con­ser­va­tive news source and seized it.”

While lib­eral crit­ics be­lieve Fox News is a rightwing pro­pa­ganda chan­nel, Ailes did suc­ceed in cre­at­ing a full-fledged news op­er­a­tion that broke the hege­mony of CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN — all of which were seen by a large seg­ment of the coun­try as be­ing too sym­pa­thetic to lib­er­al­ism.

Not only did Fox News pro­vide a plat­form for con­ser­va­tive voices — it made other news or­ga­ni­za­tions con­sider the point of view in their cov­er­age.

“I do think part of Roger’s legacy is that other news­rooms al­ways won­dered: ‘How will Fox play this?’ ” said Neal Shapiro, for­mer NBC News pres­i­dent. “And the part of Roger’s game plan was to draw ... dis­tinc­tions be­tween the way Fox would cover a story and the rest of the me­di­a­would do it.”

Ailes was also a larg­erthanper­son­al­ity known for ruth­lessly at­tack­ing his com­peti­tors in the news land­scape as if they were op­pos­ing po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates.

Rick Kaplan, a for­mer pres­i­dent of CNN, re­calls how Ailes had de­scribed the es­tab­lished chan­nel as the “Clin­ton News Net­work,” per­pet­u­at­ing the idea that the chan­nel fa­vored the Clin­ton White House. Kaplan was a per­sonal friend of the Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton be­fore he took over the cable chan­nel.

“How else were you go­ing to be heard in a me­dia land­scape like this?” Kaplan re­called.

The two ended up be­com­ing friends and Ailes, who even called Kaplan’s mother to as­sure her that his pub­lic com­ments were just busi­ness and not per­sonal.

Kaplan said Ailes was also a bril­liantTVpro­ducer who was keenly aware of that even with talk­ing heads, he was work­ing in a vis­ual medium. Fox News al­ways had state-of-the-art graph­ics and an­i­ma­tion. His pen­chant for putting at­trac­tive women on the air, with legs dis­played on the set, waswell known.

“Roger has a very vis­ually pleas­ing net­work in terms of look and color and form,” Kaplan said.

Ailes was so ef­fec­tive in the way he pro­duced and pack­aged TV pro­gram­ming, he was able to take per­son­al­i­ties who were lit­tle known or had lim­ited suc­cess else­where and turned them into stars.

Ailes took a jour­ney­man TV cor­re­spon­dent, Bill O’Reilly, and turned him into cable TV’s most pop­u­lar host, with an aura of the ed­u­cated guy at the end of the bar who wasn’t afraid to give his opin­ions. Ailes dis­cov­ered a young lo­cal ra­dio talk show host in At­lanta, Sean Han­nity, and made him a TV star.

“To this day I have no earthly idea why I was hiredand­not firedearly on, as I had lit­tle tele­vi­sion ex­pe­ri­ence when I was hired by FNC,” Han­nity said in a state­ment.

The Palm Beach County Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner’s Of­fice said the cause of death­was com­pli­ca­tions of a sub­du­ral hematoma (bleed­ing into the brain), with he­mo­philia as a con­tribut­ing fac­tor.

Even be­fore then, Ailes was known to be in poor health. “The ac­tu­ar­ies say I have six to eight years. The best ta­bles give me 10. Three thou­sand days, more or less,” he told bi­og­ra­pher Zev Chafets in 2012.

“Be­cause of my he­mo­philia, I’ve been pre­pared to face death all ofmy life,” Chafets’ book, “Roger Ailes Off Cam­era,” quotes him as say­ing. “As a boy I spent a lot of time in hos­pi­tals. My par­ents had to leave at the end of vis­it­ing hours, and I spent a lot of time just ly­ing there in the dark, think­ing about the fact that any ac­ci­dent could be dan­ger­ous or even fatal. So I’m ready. Every­body fears the un­known. But I have a strong feel­ing there’s some­thing big­ger than us.”

Born in­War­ren, Ohio, on May15, 1940, Roger Eu­gene Ailes made his early rep­u­ta­tion as a strate­gist and me­dia ad­viser to Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates, be­gin­ning with RichardM. Nixon and in­clud­ing Pres­i­dents Rea­gan and Ge­orge H.W. Bush. His be­hind-thescenes work to shape a more ap­peal­ing tele­vi­sion im­age for Nixon dur­ing his suc­cess­ful 1968 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign was chron­i­cled in Joe McGin­niss’ best­selling book, “The Sell­ing of the Pres­i­dent.”

Ailes is sur­vived by his wife­andtheir son, Zachary.



Fox News founder Roger Ailes is seen in a 2005 photo with Brian Kilmeade, who co-hosts Fox’s morn­ing show.


Roger Ailes fell in the bath­room of his home over­look­ing the At­lantic in Palm Beach last week and died Thurs­day.

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