Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report has announced that Roger Ailes, former CEO of Fox News, has died three days after his 77th birthday.
A statement from Ailes’ wife Elizabeth, posted on the Drudge Report, reads:
I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. 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. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life…
Ailes, born May 15, 1940, rose to prominence in the 1960s as a television producer, crossing over into the world of politics for then-Senator Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential bid. He served as a consultant for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush on their successful presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988.
By 1992, he stopped working as a political consultant, and he was named president of CNBC in 1993. During his tenure, he created the channel “America’s Talking,” which would later become MSNBC.
Ailes went on with News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch to create a new cable channel for Murdoch’s Fox Entertainment Group. For nearly 20 years, Ailes served as the CEO of Fox News Channel (FNC), from its inception in October 1996 until he resigned in July 2016 amid a string of sexual harassment allegations. Fox rose to the top of cable news ratings in the 2000s, with the center-right channel dominating its far-left competitors CNN and MSNBC. As of 2016, FNC generated an annual profit of $1.5 billion.
In 2013, Ailes received a Bradley Award for his work in television news. Former Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon wrote at the time:
“Roger Ailes has been a visionary,” declared Michael W. Grebe, President and CEO of the Bradley Foundation, which will award four such prizes this year. “His innovative business-building strategies have revolutionized the uncovering and delivery of news in America.”
In 1996, after making CNBC the most successful business network in history, Ailes convinced News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch to launch an iconoclastic and fearless news channel at a time when the legacy liberal media virtually monopolized the airwaves. The launch of FOX News Channel was accompanied by near-universal mockery and disdain by media elites, but Ailes knew that Americans in the heartland–and even in liberal areas–were fed up not only with biased news coverage, but smug, know-it-all anchors who delivered their slanted coverage with ideological and partisan relish.
When Ailes said, “We report, you decide,” he meant it. He knew that Americans could make up their minds about national issues–if they were presented with all the facts.
Since Ailes has resigned from FNC, the channel has floundered, as Murdoch’s sons James and Lachlan attempt to re-make it in their image — a more “moderate” channel to appease the global elite. Bill O’Reilly, the primetime lineup’s ratings powerhouse, and Bill Shine, a longtime deputy to Ailes, were both ousted after waves of negative press accusing the former of sexual harassment and the latter of enabling sexual harassment.
O’Reilly’s exit came months after both Greta Van Susteren and Megyn Kelly left the channel for MSNBC and NBC News, respectively. The only primetime host who remains from before Ailes’ ouster is Sean Hannity.
The recent shakeup of its primetime shows has led FNC’s ratings to falter. Breitbart’s Daniel Nussbaum reported:
Last week, MSNBC won the key demo (25-54) during weeknights for the first time in seven years, with The Rachel Maddow Show, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell and The 11th Hour with Brian Williams all finishing first in their respective time slots, according to Adweek.
Rupert Murdoch reportedly called a company-wide meeting to address this ratings slump on Wednesday, the evening before Ailes’ passing. Details of that meeting have not yet surfaced.
UPDATE: A new statement from Elizabeth Ailes reads:
I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning surrounded by his beautiful family. Roger was my best friend, the most wonderful loving husband and father to our son Zachary. He was a loyal friend to so many. Roger was a patriot, grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise — and to give back. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life.
Those who wish to join us in that celebration are encouraged to consider making a donation to the Marine Corps-LawEnforcement Foundation. This terrific organization generously provides scholarships to children who lose a parent serving in the United State Marine Corps or any Federal Law Enforcement Agency.
Finally, at this time of sorrow and grief we ask you to respect our privacy.