Published on

Disgraced Fox News CEO, Right-Wing Architect, and Key Trump Ally Ailes Dead at 77

'Ailes made the world an uglier, stupider, more brutal place'

When he left Fox News last year amid charges of sexual harassment and retaliation, former network CEO Roger Ailes took a $40 million parachute with him. (Photo: Reuters)

Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who changed American politics by injecting right-wing conservatism into cable news (and vice versa), has died at 77. 

The news was announced by his family; no cause of death has been reported. Citing two sources, New York Magazine national affairs editor Gabriel Sherman writes on Twitter that Ailes fell last week in Palm Beach, Florida, and suffered complications from a blood clot. 

Ailes was forced out at Fox last year, amid allegations that he had sexually harassed and retaliated against women at the network for decades. Donald Trump, who was the Republican presidential nominee at the time, came to Ailes' defense, describing it as "very sad" that multiple victims were "saying these horrible things" about the media mogul.

Trump was not the only GOP president to enjoy a relationship with Ailes, who also served as adviser to George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon. For the latter, CNN reports, Ailes "prepared a 300-page memo titled, 'A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News'."

As the New York Times wrote in a profile published upon Ailes' 2016 resignation from Fox:

With Fox News, Mr. Ailes introduced a brash, point-of-view-based style that influences much of today's media. But the closest comparison for him might be less CNN's Ted Turner than someone like J. Edgar Hoover: a power behind the power, unelected but mighty, outliving administrations and the ebbs and flows of elections, ruling by force and fear.

[...] Ailes also shaped TV news in the way that his TV-bred generation shaped politics. It was a revolution of tone, production style, and manners as much as ideology.

Politics and media of the midcentury, pre-cable era were shaped by norms of tone and content. You respected certain codes of gravitas. You practiced professional dispassion. You might chase ratings, but you recognized an interest in appearing like something other than entertainment. Even CNN, which shook up the broadcast news paradigm, featured stately battleships of dignity like Bernard Shaw.

The idea of Fox News, journalistically and aesthetically, was: screw the norms. What if we just get right up in your face?

Ailes' abundant critics minced no words online:

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.

Share This Article