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Roger Ailes

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Roger Ailes
Roger Ailes, June 2013.jpg
Ailes in New York, June 2013
Born Roger Eugene Ailes
(1940-05-15) May 15, 1940 (age 76)
Warren, Ohio, U.S.
Alma mater Ohio University
Occupation Former president of Fox News
Former chair of Fox Television
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Tilson (1998–present)
Children 1

Roger Eugene Ailes (born May 15, 1940) is an American television executive.

He is the founder and former Chairman and CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group. Ailes was a media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush,[1] and for Rudy Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign.

Early life

Ailes was born and grew up in the factory town of Warren, Ohio, the son of Donna Marie (née Cunningham) and Robert Eugene Ailes, a factory maintenance foreman.[2] Ailes suffers from hemophilia and was often hospitalized as a youth. He attended the Warren city schools, and later was inducted into Warren High School's Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.[3] His father was abusive, and his parents divorced in 1960.[4] Ailes attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio where he majored in radio and television and served as the student station manager for WOUB for two years before graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1962.[5][6]


Early television

Ailes' career in television began in Cleveland and Philadelphia, where he started as Property Assistant (1962), Producer (1965), and Executive Producer (1967–68) for KYW-TV,[7] for a then-locally produced talk-variety show, The Mike Douglas Show. He continued as Executive Producer for the show when it was syndicated nationally, and in 1968 was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for it.[8]

In 1967, Ailes had a spirited discussion about television in politics with one of the show's guests, Richard Nixon, who took the view that television was a gimmick.[9][page needed] Later, Nixon called on Ailes to serve as his Executive Producer for television. Nixon's election victory was Ailes's first venture into the political spotlight. His pioneering work in framing national campaign issues and making the stiff Nixon more likeable and accessible to voters[10][page needed] was later chronicled in The Selling of the President 1968 by Joe McGinniss.[11][page needed]

Political consulting

In 1987 and 1988, Ailes was credited (along with Lee Atwater) with guiding George H. W. Bush to victory in the Republican primaries and the later come-from-behind[12] victory over Michael Dukakis. Ailes scripted and (with Sig Rogich) produced the "Revolving Door" ad, as well as all of Bush's broadcast spots in the primary and general-election campaigns.[citation needed]

Ailes is credited with the "Orchestra Pit Theory" regarding sensationalist political coverage in the news media, which originated with his quip:

"If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, 'I have a solution to the Middle East problem,' and the other guy falls in the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?"[13]

Ailes's last campaign was the unsuccessful effort of Richard Thornburgh for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania in November 1991.[citation needed] He announced his withdrawal from political consulting in 1992.[citation needed] Though he aided with behind-the-scenes speechwriting and coaching in 1992 for both President and Barbara Bush at the GOP Convention in Houston, Ailes did not work on the unsuccessful 1992 Bush re-election campaign against Bill Clinton.[citation needed]

Ailes's TV ads for the 1988 Bush campaign were extensively examined in the award-winning documentary film Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story.[citation needed]

Days after the 9/11 attacks, Ailes gave President George W. Bush political advice indicating that the American public would be patient as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible.[14] The correspondence was revealed in Bob Woodward's book Bush At War.[page needed] Ailes lashed out against Woodward, saying "Woodward got it all screwed up, as usual," and "The reason he's not as rich as Tom Clancy is that while he and Clancy both make stuff up, Clancy does his research first."[15] Ailes refused to release a copy of the memo he sent to Bush.[16]


In 1988, Ailes wrote a book with long-time aide Jon Kraushar, called You Are the Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators,[17] in which he discusses some of his philosophies and strategies for successful performance in the public eye.

CEO of Fox News

On October 7, 1996, Ailes became the founding CEO of Fox News.[18]

Chairman of Fox Television Stations

After the departure of Lachlan Murdoch from News Corporation, Ailes was named Chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group on August 15, 2005. Following his newest assignment, one of his first acts was canceling A Current Affair in September 2005 and replacing it with a new Geraldo Rivera show titled Geraldo at Large, which debuted on Halloween, 2005. Rivera's show drew about the same ratings as A Current Affair[19] in January 2007. Ailes decided to cancel Geraldo at Large to move Rivera back on Fox News Channel.

Ailes also hired former CBS executive Dennis Swanson in October 2005 to be president of the Fox Television Stations Group. Additionally, there have been changes in affiliates' news programs with the standardization of Fox News Channel-like graphics, redesigned studios, news-format changes, and the announcement of a new morning television show called The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet to be produced by Fox News Channel.[citation needed]

In October 2012, his contract with the network was renewed for four years, through 2016, at which time he will have served as head of Fox News Channel for twenty years. Salary terms were not made public, although his earnings for the 2012 fiscal year were a reported $21 million inclusive of bonuses.[20] In addition to heading Fox News and chairing Fox Television Stations, Ailes also chairs Twentieth Television, MyNetwork TV and Fox Business Network.[20]

Sexual harassment allegations and resignation

According to a 2014 book by Gabriel Sherman, in the 1980s, Ailes offered a television producer a raise if she would sleep with him.[21] Fox News denied the allegation and rejected the authenticity of Sherman's book.[21]

On July 6, 2016, Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, including allegations that she was fired for rebuffing Ailes' advances.[22][23] Ailes denied the charges and called Carlson's lawsuit retaliatory for the network's decision not to renew her contract.[24] Three days later, Gabriel Sherman reported accounts from six women (two publicly and four anonymously) who alleged sexual harassment by Ailes.[25] In response, Ailes' counsel released a statement: "It has become obvious that Ms. Carlson and her lawyer are desperately attempting to litigate this in the press because they have no legal case to argue. The latest allegations, all 30 to 50 years old, are false."[25] On July 19, New York reported that Megyn Kelly told investigators Ailes made "unwanted sexual advances toward her" at the start of her career.[26]

On July 21, Ailes resigned from Fox and was replaced as Chairman and CEO by Rupert Murdoch.[27][28] In an open letter to Murdoch, Ailes said, "I will not allow my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done every day to ensure that Fox News and Fox Business continue to lead our industry." Ailes will continue to advise Murdoch and 21st Century Fox through 2018.[citation needed]


2011 letter of criticism by rabbis; responses

In January 2011, an open letter printed in the Wall Street Journal on the UN-designated Holocaust Remembrance Day from 400 rabbis, including leaders from various branches of Judaism in the US, called on Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp, to sanction Fox News commentator Glenn Beck for his use of the Holocaust to "discredit any individual or organization you disagree with."[29] An executive at Fox News rejected the letter, calling it the work of a "George Soros-backed leftwing political organization."[29] Ailes is also said to have once referred to Jewish critics of his as "left-wing rabbis."[30] Also in 2011, Ailes was criticized for referring to executives of the public radio network NPR as "Nazis" for sacking a news analyst, Juan Williams, after Williams had made remarks considered by NPR to be offensive. Ailes apologized to a Jewish group for using the expression, although not to NPR, writing to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL): "“I was of course ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word, but I was angry at the time because of NPR’s willingness to censor Juan Williams for not being liberal enough.... My now considered opinion 'nasty, inflexible bigot' would have worked better.”[31] The ADL accepted the apology through their National Director, Abraham Foxman, who said in a press release: "I welcome Roger Ailes apology, which is as sincere as it is heartfelt. Nazi comparisons of this nature are clearly inappropriate and offensive. While I wish Roger had never invoked that terminology, I appreciate his efforts to immediately reach out and to retract his words before they did any further harm."[32] In a subsequent letter to The Wall Street Journal, Foxman credited both Ailes, and Beck, as "pro-Israel stalwarts."[33]

Personal life

In July 1997, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Ailes was engaged to Elizabeth Tilson (born December 1960), whom he married on February 14, 1998. Formerly a television executive, she is now a homemaker and titular publisher of The Putnam County News and Recorder.[34] They have one son. They currently reside in Garrison, New York, on a hilltop parcel in a home constructed of Adirondack river stone across the Hudson River from West Point Military Academy.[35]

Ailes is a longtime friend of journalist and media personality Barbara Walters.[36]

As of July 2016 Roger Ailes is a resident of Cresskill, New Jersey.[37]

Ohio University

In October 2007, Ailes gave a sizeable donation to Ohio University for a renovated student newsroom.[38] The new facility will double the size of the university's existing newsroom – last upgraded in the 1960s – and allow more students to participate in the school's WOUB radio station and television programs.

Ailes majored in radio and television while at Ohio University and served two years as manager of the school's radio station.[39] Since 1994 he has funded scholarships for Ohio University students in the school's telecommunications programs.[40]



  • "Attorney Style: Charisma in a Court Counts." The National Law Journal (New York), July 21, 1986.
  • "The Importance of Being Likeable." Reader's Digest (Pleasantville, New York), May 1988.
  • You Are The Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators. (with Jon Kraushar). Homewood, Ill.: Dow Jones-Irwin. 1988. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-87094-976-0. 
  • You Are The Message: Getting What You Want by Being Who You Are. (with Jon Kraushar). New York, N.Y.: Doubleday. 1989. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-385-26542-3. 
  • "Sam and Diane: Give 'em Time." Advertising Age (New York), August 21, 1989.
  • "How to Make a Good Impression." Reader's Digest (Pleasantville, New York), September 1989.
  • "A Few Kind Words for Presenter Tip O'Neill." Advertising Age (New York), January 8, 1990.
  • "They Told the Truth...Occasionally." Adweek's Marketing Week (New York), January 29, 1990.
  • "How to Make an Audience Love You." Working Woman (New York), November 1990.
  • "Campaign Strategy." Time (New York), May 11, 1992.
  • "Lighten Up! Stuffed Shirts Have Short Careers." Newsweek (New York), May 18, 1992.


  1. ^ Roger Ailes bio. - IMDb Retrieved August 26, 2015
  2. ^ Current biography yearbook. H.W. Wilson. 1989. p. 14. 
  3. ^ "Warren High Schools' Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame". Warren City Schools. Archived from the original on September 23, 2007. Retrieved November 15, 2007. 
  4. ^ Sherman, Gabriel (2014). The Loudest Voice In The Room: How The Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — And Divided A Country. Random House. p. 560. ISBN 978-0-8129-9285-4. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Ohio University to Rename Newsroom for FOX News' Roger Ailes". Associated Press. April 22, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Roger Ailes's BA". museum of Broadcast communications. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Roger Ailes's First Job". museum of Broadcast communications. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  8. ^ Roger Ailes – Awards, Nominated: Outstanding Achievement in Daytime Programming – Programs for: "The Mike Douglas Show"
  9. ^ McGinniss, Joe – The Selling of the President 1968, Trident Press/Simon & Schuster, New York – October 6, 1969. ISBN 0-671-27043-5
  10. ^ McGinniss – The Selling of the President 1968.
  11. ^ Simon & Schuster – October 6, 1969. ISBN 0-671-27043-5
  12. ^ "New Polls Show Bush Shaves Dukakis Lead". The New York Times. June 30, 1988. Retrieved November 15, 2007. 
  13. ^ Bogus, Carl T. (March 17, 1997). "The Death of an Honorable Profession". Indiana University Law School. Retrieved July 13, 2009. 
  14. ^ Grove, Lloyd. Roger Ailes-Bob Woodward Smackdown? The Washington Post. November 19, 2002.
  15. ^ Fox chief too cozy with White House? CNN. November 19, 2002.
  16. ^ Colford, Paul D. DIDN'T HELP W, AILES SEZ Fox News boss disputes book. Daily News. November 19, 2002.
  17. ^ You Are the Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators, ISBN 978-0-87094-976-0
  18. ^ Brancaccio, David (October 7, 1996). "Marketplace: News Archives". Marketplace. Archived from the original on November 22, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2016. 
  19. ^ Angwin, Julia (October 3, 2006). "After Riding High With Fox News, Murdoch Aide Has Harder Slog". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 15, 2007. 
  20. ^ a b "Roger Ailes Signs Deal To Stay At Fox News Through 2016". Forbes. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b editor, Joanna Zelman Executive; Dodo, The (January 7, 2014). "Shocking New Claims About Fox News Chief". 
  22. ^ Koblin, John (2016-07-08). "Roger Ailes, Arguing Gretchen Carlson Breached Contract, Presses for Arbitration". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-20. 
  23. ^ Gold, Hadas (July 6, 2016). "21st Century Fox launching 'internal review' at Fox News following Gretchen Carlson lawsuit". Politico. Retrieved July 6, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Gretchen Carlson Sues Fox News Boss, Alleging Sexual Harassment Before Firing – Breitbart". 2016-07-06. Retrieved 2016-07-20. 
  25. ^ a b Sherman, Gabriel (July 9, 2016). "Six More Women Allege That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Them". NewYork. Retrieved July 9, 2016. 
  26. ^ Sherman, Gabriel (19 July 2016). "Sources: Megyn Kelly Told Murdoch Investigators That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Her". New York. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  27. ^ "Roger Ailes Resigns From Fox News Amid Sexual Harassment Accusations". Time. July 21, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Roger Ailes leaves Fox News in wake of sexual harassment claims". The Guardian. July 21, 2016. 
  29. ^ a b Pilkington, Ed (January 27, 2011). "Rabbis warn Rupert Murdoch: Fox News and Glenn Beck 'using' Holocaust". The Guardian (London). 
  30. ^ Pinkas, Alon (January 27, 2011). "US rabbis pen letter criticizing Beck's Holocaust usage". Retrieved April 7, 2011. 
  31. ^ Kurtz, Howard (November 17, 2010). "Fox News Chief Blasts NPR 'Nazis'". 
  32. ^ "ADL Accepts Apology From Fox News CEO Roger Ailes For Inappropriate". 
  33. ^ Foxman, Abraham H. (February 1, 2011). "The Good Rabbis Were Certainly Not Speaking for Us". Letters to the Editor. The Wall Street Journal. 
  34. ^ "". February 2, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2011. 
  35. ^ Gabriel Sherman (January 8, 2014). "Citizen Ailes". New York. 
  36. ^ Fehrman, Craig (January 21, 2011) When Roger Ailes was honest about what he does,
  37. ^ Trotter, J.K. "Fox News Boss Roger Ailes Treats Cops as His Personal Minions", Gawker, September 15, 2014. Accessed July 6, 2016. "He's also made very good friends with the local cops of Cresskill, New Jersey. According to police records obtained by Gawker, the Cresskill Police Department supplies 24/7 security to Ailes' residence there—apparently at no cost to Ailes himself—and otherwise delivers on-demand police services to his family, regardless of whether or not they are in any obvious danger."
  38. ^ "Ohio University Outlook". Retrieved April 7, 2011. 
  39. ^ Alumnus Roger Ailes helps fund newsroom, Ohio University Outlook, October 31, 2007
  40. ^ 110 minutes ago 4 June 2011 10:35:22 PM +00:00 (November 1, 2007). "Ailes chips in for alma mater's new newsroom – Giving –". MSNBC. Retrieved April 7, 2011. 

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