Shocking news came out earlier this morning from the cable news community: Fox News founding CEO Roger Ailes is dead at 77.
“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…”
Until the past year or so, Ailes’ primary legacy was starting a cable news network that grew to become one of the biggest empires in the entire industry. His network topped the ratings charts for years, while also birthing out of it a number of big personalities. The commentary show took new life while he was in charge of Fox News.
However, it is now impossible to look back at Ailes’ career without also considering the massive stain left on his legacy in the wake of numerous sexual harassment allegations. Former anchor Gretchen Carlson received a hefty settlement last year after filing a lawsuit against Ailes, and fellow former anchor Megyn Kelly also claimed that she was the target of unwanted sexual advances while working there. Ailes eventually stepped down from his post last summer, but the controversy surrounding the culture of the network continued until this year, when Bill O’Reilly was forced out of the network after further allegations of harassment and misconduct, which he to this date denies.
In what is ultimately a further sign of just how divided this country is in terms of ideology, the reactions to Ailes’ death couldn’t be more varying. Many within his former network and its viewers praise him as a man who brought transformative change, whereas his critics and accusers lament many of his alleged misdeeds and hope that his death offers other potential victims a chance to come forward. It’s a difficult subject, but this is also a difficult time.
Thoughts go out to Ailes’ family at this time. (Photo: Fox News.)