Roger Ailes, the Fox News co-founder who resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal, died on Thursday, his wife, Elizabeth Ailes, confirmed in a statement. The network’s former chairman and CEO was 77.
Ailes suffered from health complications for most of his life, after being diagnosed with hemophilia as a child.
“My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately,” he told Vanity Fair in 2013. “The actuaries say I have six to eight years. The best tables give me 10. Three thousand days, more or less. I’d give anything for another 10 years.”
“I’ve been prepared to face death of my life,” he added. “When it comes, I’ll be fine, calm. I’ll miss life, though. Especially my family.”
Ailes’ death comes less than a year after he was ousted from Fox News after multiple allegations of sexual harassment. The network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced in a quarterly report this month that it has had to pay a total of $45 million in costs “related to settlements of pending and potential litigations following the July 2016 resignation of the Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel after a public complaint was filed containing allegations of sexual harassment.” Ailes reportedly received a payout of much as a $40 million.
It all began when Former “Fox and Friends” co-host Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes for harassing her on numerous occasions ― they ultimately settled for $20 million. More than 20 other women subsequently came forward with similar allegations.
Ailes founded the network in 1996 and was considered one of the most powerful figures in the media as he helped built Fox into must-watch television.
He got his start as a producer in Ohio working as a producer on The Mike Douglas Show. In 1968, he advised then-President Richard Nixon to use television to speak more directly to voters. He went on to advise former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Ailes advised President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, and the two were longtime friends. Trump also defended Ailes after the sexual harassment allegations surfaced last year.
In the 1970s, Ailes already understood how television could influence voters. In 1970, he wrote a memo for Nixon called “A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News,” in which he urged the White House to use the power of television. “Today television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, than people listen to the radio, than people read or gather any other form of communication,” he said. “The reason: People are lazy. With television you just sit—watch—listen. The thinking is done for you.”
Under Ailes’ leaderhsip, Fox became the number-one rated cable news channel, and has consistently led ratings over the past 15 years.
HuffPost has reached out to Fox News for comment.
Fox News personalities paid tribute to their former leader on social media.
This is a developing story. Check back for details.
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