Roger Ailes

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Roger Eugene Ailes (May 15, 1940 – May 18, 2017) served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network, as well as Chairman of Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television. He had oversight over all national operations for Fox News and Television, serving as a senior adviser to Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation. He previously worked as a GOP operative.

After joining Fox News in 1996, Ailes created Fox's first weekly public affairs show, "Fox News Sunday" and oversaw the successful launch of Fox News Channel and Fox Business. "He understands the news media, politics and the American people as well as anyone in the modern age," stated former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.[1]

Prior to Fox, Ailes served as president of CNBC, making it the fastest growing major cable network in America and a leading source for business news, tripling ratings and increasing profits from $9 million to well over $100 million. Ailes also oversaw CNBC's 1995 worldwide expansion to Europe and Asia. At the same time, he was president of "America’s Talking", which later became MSNBC.

Ailes had a three-year term as a board member of the National Hemophilia Foundation, was a member of the Director's Guild of America, and a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Gettysburg.

Ailes earned his bachelor's and received an honorary doctorate from Ohio University.

Pre-Fox News biography

Born on May 15, 1940[2] in Warren, Ohio, Ailes graduated from Ohio University in 1962 with a major in radio and television.[3] While working for media personality Mike Douglas, Ailes met Richard Nixon in 1967 and served in his successful 1968 presidential campaign.[2][3] Ailes later worked with Ronald Reagan's 1984 presidential campaign and George H. W. Bush's 1988 campaign,[2] the latter of which he played an important role in.[3] Upon Ailes's death, Bush stated on Twitter "Not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help."[4] In the campaigns Ailes worked with, he helped the candidates perform strongly on television.[5] This could be seen in his convincing Nixon to take television seriously for winning elections, his role in helping Reagan develop his famous "opponent’s youth and inexperience" debate line, and his influence in having Bush go on the offensive in debates.[5]

Ending his political consulting work in 1992, Ailes joined CNBC, becoming its vice president in 1993.[2] During his tenure as president, he created what eventually became MSNBC.[2]

Fox News tenure

Ailes met News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, who hired him to create a cable news channel under Fox Entertainment Group.[2] Ailes founded Fox News in October 1996, served as its CEO until July 2016,[2] and transformed it "into the nation's long-running No. 1 cable news network."[3] The creation and success of Fox News broke the monopoly over the American public held by the liberal media elite and gave a voice to conservative Americans opposed by those elite.[6]

For 17 consecutive years, until 2017, Fox News was the #1 cable news station in the U.S. for primetime, and even after the consecutive record was broken, it remained #1 overall.[7] Fox News also had the #1 cable news show during Ailes's tenure as CEO, with The O'Reilly Factor being #1 for 15 consecutive years[8] until O'Reilly was forced out from Fox in April 2017.[9]

Mr. Ailes is certainly making money. At a time when the broadcast networks are struggling with diminishing audiences and profits in news, he has built Fox News into the profit engine of the News Corporation. Fox News is believed to make more money than CNN, MSNBC and the evening newscasts of NBC, ABC and CBS combined. The division is on track to achieve $700 million in operating profit this year (2010), according to analyst estimates that Mr. Ailes does not dispute. [10]

"If he were a Democrat, I think there would be 67 Democratic senators right now," said the political consultant James Carville. In terms of the news business, the cable television business, and the political business, there is him....and then there is everybody else.

Ailes grew to support Donald Trump after he became the presumptive nominee, but he opposed Trump's immigration policies and supported Megyn Kelly in her feud with Trump.[11] Ailes, who had strong control over Fox News, was unable to exert any control over Trump to perform how he wanted him to.[11]

Ailes and Steve Bannon of Breitbart News knew each other and were "allies" to an extent but also were rivals, competing for their differing visions for the Republican Party and for greater influence over Trump.[12] Bannon won out on the struggle after Trump became the GOP nominee.[12] During the campaign, Bannon warned Ailes about Megyn Kelly, with the former telling Ailes that she would betray him.[12] That came true in July 2016.[13]

Ailes was forced to resign from Fox News in 2016 due to a sex scandal, even though he planned to remain on 21st Century Fox until 2018.[14][15]

Role in Trump's 2016 campaign

It was reported in August 2016 that Ailes was serving on Donald Trump's presidential campaign, helping him prepare for the presidential debates.[16] The Trump campaign denied the reports.[17] In October, more reports appeared in the media that Ailes and Trump had a falling-out, something which Ailes's lawyer denied.[18]

Death and legacy

Ailes died on May 18, 2017, at the age of 77.[19] The cause of his death was bleeding of the brain due to a fall the day prior.[20]

Ailes's death generated much media coverage, and even some liberals spoke kind words about him and noted his impact.[21] However, many other liberals, including journalists, predictably mocked him upon learning of Ailes's death,[22] and liberal media outlets did likewise.[23] Some figures, such as Monica Lewinsky, criticized him.[24]

As the founder of Fox News, Ailes played a major role in forming and shaping Fox News Channel into the most popular and influential American media outlet and an even larger role in shaping American media.[2][3] According to one commentator, Ailes "was a visionary and he changed the way we communicate in this country. He brought balance to our political discourse. He was a genius, and that’s all I can say."[25]

Because of Ailes, the liberal mainstream media lost its monopoly over the American public and was forced to face the conservative media and other forms of competition – he thus gave the conservative half of America a voice and helped improve the public discourse in the U.S. by offering additional points of view.[6] Conservative commentator and columnist R. Emmett Tyrell stated that Ailes succeeded in his goal "to damage the left in America beyond any hope of recovery."[26]

George Bush the Elder stated upon Ailes's death that he might not have been elected U.S. President without Ailes.[4]

Regarding liberal media elite bias, Ailes stated:

They just believe what they believe and they think their job is to drag the rest of the redneck morons toward the light. They don’t understand that the so-called redneck morons, the people they don’t like, are the people that grew up with values, patriotism, all those things. And they hate all those words.[6]

In creating Fox News, Ailes:

forc[ed] some people to actually acknowledge that others exist in the world beside the people who went to Elaine’s back in the old days.[6]

Personal life

Ailes married his wife Elizabeth in 1998 and had a son in 2000.[3] He was friends with Rush Limbaugh.[27]


  1. A Fox Chief at the Pinnacle of Media and Politics By David Carr and Tim Arangokan. 9, 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Dulis, Ezra (May 18, 2017). Roger Ailes Has Died. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News, dead at 77. Fox News. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Chasmar, Jessica (May 18, 2017). George H.W. Bush: ‘Not sure I would have been president without’ Roger Ailes. The Washington Times. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Derespina, Cody (May 18, 2017). Roger Ailes had lengthy career making politicians TV-ready. Fox News. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Roger Ailes: I Built Fox to Give Voice to Patriotic Average Americans Hated by Media Elites. Breitbart News. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  7. Kew, Ben (May 22, 2017). Cable News Ratings Shock: Fox Slips to 3rd Place in Primetime for First Time in 17 Years. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  8. Katz, A.J. (December 28, 2017). 2016 Ratings: Fox News Channel is Cable TV’s Most-Watched Network. TVNewser. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  9. Elber, Lynn (April 20, 2017). O'Reilly Is Out at Fox but Influence Endures; Career Too?. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  10. New York Times; "A Fox Chief at the Pinnacle of Media and Politics"
  11. 11.0 11.1 Johnson, Eliana (May/June 2017). How Trump Blew Up the Conservative Media. Politico Magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Steve Bannon: I Warned Ailes About Megyn Kelly — ‘She’s the Devil’. Breitbart News. April 21, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  13. Boyle, Matthew (July 19, 2016). Exclusive — Fox News Stars Stand With Roger Ailes Against Megyn Kelly, More Than 50 Fox Contributors, All Primetime, Willing To Walk. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  14. Drudge Report: Ailes to Step Down from Fox News, Stay on as 21st Century Fox Consultant Until 2018. Breitbart News. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  15. Kelly, Laura (May 18, 2017). Roger Ailes, Fox News founder, remembered as flawed man, TV revolutionary. The Washington Times. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  16. Report: Roger Ailes Advising Donald Trump. Breitbart News. August 16, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  17. Wise, Alana (August 16, 2016). Former Fox News chief Ailes is not advising Trump: campaign. Reuters. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  18. Pramuk, Jacob (October 19, 2016). Ailes never helped Trump with debate prep; their relationship hasn't changed, lawyer says. CNBC. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  19. Moore, Frazier (May 18, 2017). Former Fox News Channel Chairman Roger Ailes has died at 77. The Washington Times. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  20. The Latest: Roger Ailes died of bleeding on the brain. Breitbart News (from the Associated Press). May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  21. Roger Ailes dead: Media personalities react. Fox News. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  22. Shaw, Adam (May 18, 2017). Liberal Journalists get Nasty, Make Jokes After Roger Ailes’ Death. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  23. Harper, Jannifer (May 18, 2017). Inside the Beltway: Press attacks Roger Ailes even in death. The Washington Times. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  24. Ernst, Douglas (May 22, 2017). Monica Lewinsky rips Roger Ailes after funeral, blames him for Fox’s ‘culture of exploitation’. The Washington Times. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  25. Hayward, John (May 18, 2017). Pat Caddell: Roger Ailes ‘Was a Visionary, He Changed the Way We Communicate in This Country’. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  26. Tyrell, R. Emmett, Jr. (May 23, 2017). Roger Ailes’ exit, stage right. The Washington Times. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  27. Ernst, Douglas (May 18, 2017). Limbaugh rips ‘pissant’ critics of Roger Ailes, mourns ‘dearest friend’ on air. The Washington Times. Retrieved May 19, 2017.

See also

External links

Roger Ailes Biography, Blog and News Updates [1]

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, the Fox News chief says Obama thinks differently from most Americans, defends Murdoch's GOP donations, and admits Beck sometimes goes too far.[2]

Further reading