Roger Ailes: Scandal-plagued Fox News founder and Republican heavyweight dies at 77

18 May 2017

Roger Ailes gestures as he stands at a lectern with Fox written on it.
Roger Ailes, founder and former chief executive of Fox News, has died at age 77, Fox News says.

Key points:

  • Roger Ailes led Fox News for 20 years
  • His reign came to an abrupt end after sexual harassment allegations
  • The 77-year-old was seen as influential to Donald Trump’s successful White House run


Mr Ailes resigned from Fox News last July following allegations of sexual harassment, marking an abrupt end to his 20-year reign over America’s most lucrative and powerful cable news channel for conservatives.

Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox.

Mr Ailes received a severance package of about $US40 million ($54 million) when he left Fox News, according to a source familiar with the situation, and went on to serve as an informal adviser to Mr Murdoch.

As founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Fox News, Mr Ailes became one of the most influential figures in the Republican Party, and the network was integral to US President Donald Trump’s successful run for the White House in 2016.

“Today America lost one of its great patriotic warriors,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said on the channel on Thursday.

“For decades, RA [Roger Ailes] has impacted American politics and media.

“He has dramatically and forever changed the political and the media landscape single-handedly for the better.”

Brian Kilmeade, another Fox News host, said on the channel that Ailes “helped build Fox News Channel into the powerhouse it is today”.

Mr Ailes’ widow, Elizabeth Ailes, confirmed his death in a statement on the Fox News website.

“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” she wrote.

Twenty-First Century Fox made no immediate statement.

Mr Ailes had run Fox News under the slogan “fair and balanced” and conservatives found it a much-needed antidote to the perceived liberal slant of traditional media.

Critics denounced Fox News as a cynical and polarising right-wing propaganda machine.