Roger Ailes, the founder and former chairman of Fox News who guided the network until he was forced out in a sexual harassment scandal, has died. He was 77.
He passed away Thursday morning and news of his death was swift as his wife, Elizabeth, released a statement to the Drudge Report.
“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” she said. “Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many.”
She added: “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.”
Ailes split his time between two fabulous homes - a hilltop estate in Garrison, New York, and another sprawling mansion in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Ailes health had been in decline for some time. He was overweight, used a cane, had hemophilia, multiple surgeries to replace his joints and even had a secret prostate surgery a few years ago that put him on extended leave from the network.
His passing comes less than a year after he resigned from the company over allegations of sexual harassment. He strongly denied the claims and stepped down with a $40 million severance package.
Ailes was a visionary in TV news who will go down in history for creating the Fox News behemoth.
The exact cause of his death remains unclear. However, according a family friend told CNN that Ailes suffered complications and ultimately fell into a coma after suffering a fall at his home in Palm Beach last week
He is believed to have died alone at his home on the Hudson River across from West Point.
In a series of tweets, Fox News’ Sean Hannity called Ailes his “second father.”
Today America lost one of its great patriotic warriors. Roger Ailes. For Decades RA's has impacted American politics and media.— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 18, 2017
He has dramatically and forever changed the political and the media landscape singlehandedly for the better. https://t.co/nZssNxFKAr— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 18, 2017
Neither will ever be the same again as he was a true American original.— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 18, 2017
Few people in this life will ever reach the profound level of https://t.co/x6EJypnPKS
impact that Roger Ailes had on the country every single day. As his opponents played checkers in life, Roger was always the strategist, https://t.co/LXXPVoBpxr— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 18, 2017
playing Chess, 5 steps ahead at a whole other level— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 18, 2017
On a personal note, were it not for Roger Ailes, I would not be the person I am today https://t.co/iFh4IEwwkk
In many ways he was like a second father after I lost my father 6 months after I started at FNC in 3/97. I am forever grateful. https://t.co/OrDWDjOYBl— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 18, 2017
Ailes, who was born in Warren, Ohio, and attended Ohio University in Athens, as a radio and television major, started his career in 1960 as a producer of The Mike Douglas Show.
He then went on to serve as a media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
In 1996, he was hired by Rupert Murdoch to help architect the Fox News network which would rival CNN and become one of the most popular cable TV news channels in American history.
Ailes is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, 55, and son, Zachary, 17.