People

Roger Ailes, Who Built Fox News, Dies at 77

Powerful exec outsted amid sexual harassment scandal 5/18/2017 9:16 AM Eastern
Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes, who built, Fox News into a powerhouse before being ousted in a sexual harassment scandal, has died at 77.

In a statement to Drudge Report, his wife, Elizabeth Ailes, said: "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."

No cause of death was given.

Ailes and Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch started Fox News in 1996 as an alternative to the mainstream media. Under its "fair and balanced" motto, the network shot to the top of the ratings in cable, not just among the news networks, and became a force in Republican politics.

Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox and FNC, called Ailes "a brilliant broadcaster" in a statement the company released today (May 18):

"Everybody at Fox News is shocked and grieved by the death of Roger Ailes," Murdoch said. "A brilliant broadcaster, Roger played a huge role in shaping America’s media over the last 30 years. He will be remembered by the many people on both sides of the camera that he discovered, nurtured and promoted.

"Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have," he continued. "In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs. At 21st Century Fox we will always be enormously grateful for the great business he built. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elizabeth and son Zachary."

Ailes lost his power last year after a Fox anchor, Gretchen Carlson sued for sexual harassment. Rupert Murdoch's son, new 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch, hired a law firm to investigate the claims of Carlson and other women who worked at Fox News.

The result of the investigation led to Ailes leaving Fox News. A year later, Fox News' highest rated host, Bill O'Reilly, was also ousted from the network because of sexual harassment complaints.