Fox News Channel ex-CEO Roger Ailes is dead at age 77, less than a year after sexual harassment allegations against him forced Ailes to resign from the media company he helped found, Fox News reported.
Police in Palm Beach, Florida, said Ailes fell and hit his head in his home eight days ago and suffered extensive bleeding, the Associated Press confirmed. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office declared that he died of bleeding on his brain.
The conservative news website Drudge Report posted a statement Thursday morning from the media titan’s wife, Elizabeth Ailes:
“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 …”
Hosts of the morning show “Fox & Friends” appeared visibly upset when they announced Ailes’ death and read his family’s statement on-air today. Ailes had led Fox News for two decades.
Breaking News: Former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has died, his family announced. pic.twitter.com/AksPdNSZaI
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 18, 2017
“You’re in our thoughts and prayers,” co-host Ainsley Earhardt said.
A former “Fox & Friends” host, Gretchen Carlson, departed from Fox News morning show in July after she accused Ailes of sexually harassing her and her female colleagues repeatedly for years.
Ailes was born in 1940 and raised in Warren, Ohio where he grew up watching television for hours. In 1960, his parents divorced after his father threatened his mother’s life, Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman wrote in a September 2016 New York Magazine article. Ailes graduated from the Ohio State University in 1962 and began to work for The Mike Douglas Show.
“Though Ailes had married his college girlfriend, he used his growing power to take advantage of the parade of beautiful women coming through his office hoping to be cast on the show,” Sherman wrote.
Ailes went on to build Fox News Channel in 1996 as a 24-hour cable news outlet that catered in part to a politically conservative audience.
“I’m very pleased to join this organization… It really is exciting to join what I think is the most dynamic television company in the world today,” Ailes then told the press, according to Fox News.
His business partner and media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, issued a statement shared on Twitter Thursday after Ailes’ death.
“Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have,” according to the statement. “In addition, he was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs.”
Rupert Murdoch statement on Roger Ailes: pic.twitter.com/1ORlBo1OwR
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) May 18, 2017
Former President George H.W. Bush admitted that Ailes “wasn’t perfect” but Bush said he “loved him” and credited Ailes’s talent and loyalty with helping Bush secure his presidency in a message sent via Twitter.
He wasn't perfect, but Roger Ailes was my friend & I loved him. Not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help. RIP.
— George Bush (@GeorgeHWBush) May 18, 2017