Roger Ailes, the executive who made Fox News into what it is today, died at the age of 77.
After working as a media consultant for various Republican Presidents, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, as well as time on Rudy Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign, he became a founding CEO of Fox News in 1996. For close to two decades, Ailes was arguably the most powerful man in American media, turning the news channel into a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. Everything you hate about Fox News can basically find its origins in this man’s work. Ailes changed the landscape of journalism, and not in a good way.
Last year, Ailes was forced to resign from his position after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Another former anchor, Megyn Kelly, also allegedly told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances towards her. This was followed by further allegations from Andrea Tantaros and Shelley Ross. Ailes’s settlement for resigning reached $40m, double the alleged amount received by Carlson herself. Ailes continued working for the absolute worst powers, advising Donald Trump in debate prep against Hillary Clinton.
Roger Ailes was not a good man. He did a lot of terrible things, irrevocably poisoned contemporary political discourse, and never received proper punishment or any tangible consequences for everything he did. I’m sad for his family, but death is not a historical whitewash.
This is as kind as I can be.