Roger Ailes, the former CEO of Fox News Channel who was credited for taking the network from its inception to the top of the cable news ratings game, passed away on Thursday morning. He had just turned 77 years old three days prior.
News of Ailes’s death surfaced on the Drudge Report, where a statement by wife Elizabeth Ailes was posted.
“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” the statement read. “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,” the statement concluded, encouraging mourners to make a contribution to the Marine Corps — Law Enforcement foundation.
Ailes’s career was at the intersection of entertainment and politics since the 1960s, when he left a gig as a television producer to work for then-Senator Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign. He would also play a role in the successful presidential bids of Ronald Reagan in 1984 and George W. Bush in 1988.
In the early 1990s, Ailes served as president of CNBC and created the network that would eventually become MSNBC. He eventually joined forces with News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch to form Fox News Channel in 1996 and served as the chief executive of the network until July 2016, when a sexual harassment scandal compelled him to step down.
Since Ailes’s departure from the network, ratings have suffered, particularly in the wake of veteran primetime anchor Bill O’Reilly’s ouster due to a similar wave of allegations.
(Photo by Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty Images