Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Fox News co-founder Roger Ailes dies at age 77

Update 4:45 p.m.: The Palm Beach County, Florida, Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death of Roger Ailes an accident, according to a news release issued Thursday afternoon. During his 20-year reign over the network, he built Fox News into a conservative media powerhouse.

Ailes was ousted from Fox in July after accusations of sexual harassment.

FOLKENFLIK: He - his wife Elizabeth put out a statement interestingly enough through Matt Drudge and the Drudge Report this morning saying he had died overnight and thanking people for their support of him in recent months.

In a tweet on Thursday, Bush said, "He wasn't ideal, but Roger Ailes was my friend & I loved him". Roger was a patriot, grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise-and to give back. There was no immediate information on a cause of death.

The controversial Ailes built Fox News into a media empire but was forced to resign in disgrace past year following allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues.

Just hours after the death of Roger Ailes was announced, MSNBC analyst Joan Walsh went public with an off-the-record conversation that she once had with the Fox News founder.

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"A brilliant broadcaster, Roger played a huge role in shaping America's media over the last thirty years", Murdoch said in a statement.

"Today television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, than people listen to the radio, than people read or gather any other form of communication", the memo read.

"The difference between Roger Ailes and Bill Clinton was Clinton was able to overcome what he brought upon himself in the White House because of a largely sympathetic media". "Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have", he said.

"Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs", he added.

Fox News host Sean Hannity tweeted tributes to his onetime boss in a series of messages. "He has dramatically and forever changed the political and the media landscape single-handedly for the better".

Though ratings continued to soar, in later years Ailes' power was challenged.

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Ailes worked on the show, which was taped at the then-KYW-TV building at 16th and Walnut Streets during his time there, until 1967, when he met Nixon during his second run for president. "He changed the kind of rhetoric that we hear about politics, heated it up".

Ailes' was also an adviser to the Donald Trump campaign in 2016, where he assisted him with debate preparation.

One longtime friend, evangelical Christian leader Ralph Reed, affectionately called Ailes "master of the universe" on Thursday, while former President George H.W. Bush tweeted that he might not have been elected without the Fox chief.

Through it all, Fox News has retained the identity Ailes forged for the network as a leading platform for conservative opinion and a counterweight to other news outlets that Fox hosts generally regard with disdain.

Ailes and Elizabeth were married in 1998.

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