Roger Ailes, former Fox News chief, dies at 77

When Roger Ailes resigned from Fox News in July of 2016 amid allegations of sexual harassment, he left behind a TV network in turmoil at the height of the United States presidential election.

A sign displays the news that former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has died, on the outside Fox News headquarters in NY. No cause was given.

In a statement on May 17, his wife, Elizabeth Ailes, said: "I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning".

Mr Ailes was designated to preside Fox News when it was first inaugurated by Rupert Murdoch in 1996. They maintained the pretense that everyone loved a unanimously liberal news media, but that was obviously not the case. Although marketed as "fair and balanced", critics of the conservative content of the channel's programs accused it of acting as a propaganda arm of the Republican Party. The notes directed positive coverage for Republican politicians and negative news about Democrats.

During a four-minute tribute on his podcast Thursday, O'Reilly praises Ailes as a visionary and someone who "didn't take any guff from the left or the right" politically.

The genius, West noted, was in Ailes' balancing act. "He's combined opinion and journalism in a wholly new way one that blurs the distinction between the two". When asked if they would tip off Americans about to be ambushed, then-ABC News anchor Peter Jennings agonized and finally said he would. Ailes declined my many requests for an interview, and my brief encounters with him were unpleasant.

But then, Brown added, there was the other, darker side of Ailes, who was ousted last summer after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

Carlson left the network and received a $20 million settlement from Fox several months later. The scandal would eventually claim Ailes' biggest star, Bill O'Reilly, who was canned in April amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Science and medicine will probably disagree with me, but I choose to believe that Roger Ailes died of a broken heart. That made it the most profitable division of 21st Century Fox, its parent, according to the 2013 authorized biography "Roger Ailes: Off Camera" by Zev Chafetz, who previously wrote a biography about Rush Limbaugh and became a Fox News contributor.

Merrill Brown, who helped launched MSNBC.com, said Ailes "singularly deserves credit and responsibility for the creation of Fox News - which changed the nature of cable news". More than any other person in this country in recent decades, Roger Ailes blurred the boundaries separating the worlds of politics and media.

He once punched a hole in the wall of an NBC control room where he was producing "The Tomorrow Show", according to the Chafetz book.

Ailes' chief lawyer Susan Estrich did not respond to a request for comment about the state of the lawsuits.

The marriage of politics and entertainment that Ailes orchestrated at Fox became an effective tool for political communication, and one that Trump also deftly put to use in his once improbable bid for the White House. Some, such as Kasich, went on to run for office again.

Over the past few years, we have witnessed the development of two sets of news viewers, watching different stories and getting different information to reinforce their biases.

Born in Warren, Ohio, on May 15, 1940, Roger Eugene Ailes described his working-class upbringing with three words: "God, country, family". The former Fox News chairman suffered from a preexisting condition of hemophilia that prevents blood clotting, which was a major contributor to his death.

He attended Ohio University, in Athens, where he acted in plays and worked at the radio station. A television wunderkind, he rose to executive producer by age 25 and was nominated for an Emmy in 1968. "His advice to Presidents Nixon and Reagan was historic and helped elect both", Gingrich tweeted.

This is the Ailes' legacy: a divisive formula of confrontation. Anything that anyone says there about me is wrong. "RIP." -George H.W. Bush.

Add Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi to the list of those who aren't sad to see Ailes gone. In what can only be described as a nasty takedown of the ex-FNC head, Taibbi blamed Ailes for creating the "hyper-divisive media environment" American public - described as "a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people" - now finds itself in.

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