FOX News Chairman Roger Ailes renewed his contract for four more years on Friday, keeping him in charge of the network he largely built through the next presidential election season in 2016, which will also be the network’s 20th anniversary.
Ailes has been in charge of FOX News since its founding in 1996, when the mainstream media mocked the network — and its potential.
As even the New York Times concedes, Ailes, who is 72, “is widely credited with the financial and cultural success of Fox News,” which has been the highest-rated cable news channel.
Ailes, who used to work for Richard Nixon and Rush Limbaugh, was a visionary in finding big-name personalities — like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity — around which he built his primetime lineup. He has made it a point to air stories the mainstream media ignored in the network’s patented “fair and balanced” manner.
When FOX News first hit the airwaves, elites underestimated how much a station whose anchors did not talk down to viewers and conservatives would resonate.
Now, with its blockbuster ratings, FOX often competes with mainstream media networks for ratings and is often as much of an agenda setter and narrative shaper as the traditional networks. In many cases, FOX News has been even more influential than the traditional networks as mainstream networks and publications have struggled financially due to their blatant liberal biases.
It is also an outlet which, by reporting on issues and figures important to those on the center-right that the mainstream media would never have given the time of day, has forced the mainstream media to acknowledge and cover issues it otherwise would not have.
According to the Times, Ailes received $21 million last year and was the third highest paid executive at FOX News behind chief executive Rupert Murdoch and Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey.