Former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has died, the network says, citing a statement from the late executive's family. Ailes resigned from his post leading Fox News last July, amid allegations of sexual harassment. He was 77.
Ailes helped to found Fox News in 1996. Today, the network initially announced his death by citing the Drudge Report, which had published a statement from Ailes' wife, Elizabeth.
According to Fox News, that statement reads:
"I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. 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."
Anchors of the channel's morning show Fox and Friends were noticeably emotional in announcing Ailes' death.
"Beth you are in our thoughts and prayers," co-host Ainsley Earhardt said, "and so is Zachary, their beautiful son. Roger, rest in peace."
Ailes was famous for his shrewd leadership of Fox, including his focus on hiring on-air staff with big personalities. But he left Fox with a tarnished legacy, facing legal actions over allegations of sexual harassment.
Ailes denied accusations that he built a culture at Fox that encouraged sexual harassment, after a lawsuit by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson prompted other women at the network, including high-profile anchor Megyn Kelly, to step forward with similar claims.
In the decades before he created a ratings juggernaut in Fox News, Ailes worked in politics, serving as a media adviser and consultant — most famously for Richard Nixon, whom Ailes helped to win the presidency in 1968. He later worked for other Republican leaders, from presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.