Roger Eugene Ailes
May 15, 1940
Warren, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||May 18, 2017 (aged 77)|
Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
|Alma mater||Ohio University|
|Occupation||President of Fox News|
Chair of Fox Television
(m. 1960; div. 1977)
(m. 1981; div. 1995)
|This article is part of a series on|
in the United States
|United States portal|
Roger Eugene Ailes (May 15, 1940 – May 18, 2017) was an American television executive and media consultant. He was the chairman and CEO of Fox News, Fox Television Stations and 20th Television. Ailes was a media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, and for Rudy Giuliani's first mayoral campaign. In June 2016, he resigned from Fox News after being accused of sexual harassment by several female Fox employees, including on-air personalities Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly. Shortly afterward, he became an adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, in which he assisted with debate preparation.
Ailes suffered from hemophilia, a medical condition in which the body is impaired in its ability to produce blood clots. He died on May 18, 2017 at the age of 77 after suffering a subdural hematoma that was aggravated by his hemophilia.
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. Ailes suffered from hemophilia and was often hospitalized as a youth. He attended the Warren city schools, and later was inducted into Warren G. Harding High School's Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
Ailes' father was an authoritarian parent who was often physically and verbally abusive, while Ailes later recalled that his mother feared his hemophilia and was only physically affectionate "once in a while".:560 His parents divorced in 1960; when he came home from college for Christmas break, they informed him that he would have to stay at a friend's house.
Ailes's career in television began in Cleveland and Philadelphia, where he started as production assistant (1961), producer (1965), and executive producer (1967–68) for KYW-TV, 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 1967 and 1968 he won Emmy Awards for it.
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. Later, Nixon called on Ailes to serve as his Executive Producer for television. Nixon's successful presidential campaign was Ailes's first venture into the political spotlight. His pioneering work in framing national campaign issues, capitalizing on the race-based Southern Strategy and making the stiff Nixon more likable and accessible to voters was later chronicled in The Selling of the President 1968 by Joe McGinniss.
In 1984, Ailes worked on the campaign to reelect Ronald Reagan. In 1987 and 1988, Ailes was credited (along with fellow consultant Lee Atwater) with guiding George H. W. Bush to victory in the Republican primaries and the victory over Michael Dukakis.
Ailes was 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?
Days after the 9/11 attacks, Ailes advised President George W. Bush that the American public would be patient as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible. The correspondence was revealed in Bob Woodward's book Bush at War. Criticized for giving political advice, 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". Ailes refused to release a copy of the memo he sent to Bush.
In 1988, Ailes wrote a book with long-time aide Jon Kraushar entitled You Are the Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators.
America's Talking channel
Ailes eventually made his way back to television, this time focusing on cable news. In 1993, he became president of CNBC and later created the "America's Talking" channel, which would eventually become MSNBC. He hosted an interview program on America's Talking. In 1995, NBC hired a law firm to conduct an internal investigation after Roger Ailes allegedly called David Zaslav a "little fucking Jew prick." This was not confirmed as the reason for his departure.
20th Television/Fox News
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, Geraldo at Large, which debuted on Halloween, 2005. Rivera's show drew about the same ratings as A Current Affair in January 2007.
Ailes hired former Viacom executive Dennis Swanson in October 2005 to be president of the Fox Television Stations Group. Additionally, there were 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.
In January 2011, 400 rabbis, including leaders from various branches of Judaism in the United States, published an open letter in The Wall Street Journal on the UN-designated Holocaust Remembrance Day. They called on Rupert Murdoch to sanction Fox News commentator Glenn Beck for his use of the Holocaust to "discredit any individual or organization you disagree with." An executive at Fox News rejected the letter, calling it the work of a "George Soros-backed left wing political organization." Ailes is also said to have once referred to Jewish critics of his as "left-wing rabbis."
Also in 2011, Ailes was criticized for referring to executives of the public radio network NPR as "Nazis" for firing a news analyst, Juan Williams, after Williams had made remarks considered by NPR to be offensive. Ailes apologized to a Jewish group, but not to NPR, for using the expression, 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."
The ADL welcomed and accepted the apology through its National Director, Abraham Foxman; in a subsequent letter to The Wall Street Journal Foxman said that both Ailes and Beck were "pro-Israel stalwarts." In October 2012, his contract with the network was renewed for four years, through 2016. If completed, he would have served as head of Fox News Channel for 20 years. Salary terms were not made public, although his earnings for the 2012 fiscal year were $21 million inclusive of bonuses. In addition to heading Fox News and chairing Fox Television Stations, Ailes also chaired 20th Television, MyNetworkTV and Fox Business Network.
Sexual harassment cases
In a book published in 2014, Gabriel Sherman alleged that, in the 1980s, Ailes offered a television producer a raise if she would sleep with him. Fox News denied the allegation and rejected the authenticity of Sherman's book.
On July 6, 2016, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes; Carlson's allegations were the impetus for more than a dozen female employees at 21st Century Fox to step forward regarding their own experiences with Ailes’ behaviour. Carlson alleged that she had been fired for rebuffing Ailes' advances. Ailes, through his attorney, Susan Estrich, denied the charges. Three days later, Sherman reported accounts from six women (two publicly and four anonymously) who alleged sexual harassment by Ailes. 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."
Ten days later, New York magazine reported that an internal review into Carlson's claims had expanded into a broader review of Ailes's stewardship. It also claimed Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, had seen enough information in the preliminary review to conclude that Ailes had to go. They disagreed on the timing, however; James wanted Ailes out immediately, while Rupert and Lachlan wanted to wait until after the Republican National Convention. On July 19, New York reported that Megyn Kelly told investigators Ailes made "unwanted sexual advances toward her" at the start of her career. The magazine also reported that the Murdochs had given Ailes an ultimatum—resign by August 1 or be fired.
On July 21, 2016, Ailes resigned from Fox News, receiving $65 million from 21st Century Fox (the then-parent company of 20th Century Fox and Fox News) in an exit agreement. Rupert Murdoch succeeded him as chairman, and as interim CEO until the naming of a permanent replacement. In a letter to Murdoch, Ailes wrote: "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 was thanked for his work, without mention of the allegations. He continued to advise Murdoch and 21st Century Fox through 2017 until his death.
After 20th Television and Fox News
Following Ailes's resignation, Andrea Tantaros claimed in August 2016 that she approached Fox News executives about Ailes's behavior towards her in 2015. She stated that her allegations resulted first in her being demoted, and then in her being taken off the air in April 2016. Tantaros filed a lawsuit against Fox News in August 2016 for sexual harassment, also accusing Bill O'Reilly and Scott Brown.
On August 8, 2016, Shelley Ross, writing for The Daily Beast, described her encounter of sexual harassment with Ailes in 1981. She claimed that at a lunch meeting Ailes asked her, "When did you first discover you were sexy?" When Ross explained to Ailes that she found the conversation "very embarrassing," he responded that "the best expression of loyalty comes in the form of a sexual alliance." The next month, 21st Century Fox announced it had settled a lawsuit with Carlson over her allegations of harassment against Ailes. 21st Century Fox was also reported to have made separate settlements with at least two other women who made complaints about Ailes.
In November 2016, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly wrote in her book about the details of her sexual abuse allegations against Ailes. According to Kelly, when she first joined Fox News, Ailes would have meetings with her, during which he would make sexual remarks. Kelly alleges that he also tried to kiss her several times during a closed-door meeting, but she was able to get away and leave the office. After that incident in 2006, Kelly says that Ailes did not sexually harass her again. Then, in 2016, when Gretchen Carlson first made her sexual abuse allegations, 21st Century Fox pressured Kelly to defend Ailes, which she refused to do.
Ailes was married three times; his first two marriages ended in divorce.
He married his third wife Elizabeth Tilson (born 1960) on February 14, 1998. Formerly a television executive, she was the owner and publisher of local New York state newspapers The Putnam County News & Recorder and The Putnam County Courier. Roger Ailes had one son, named Zachary, with Elizabeth. The family resided in Garrison, New York, on a hilltop parcel in a home constructed of Adirondack river stone across the Hudson River from United States Military Academy at West Point. Ailes also had residences in Cresskill, New Jersey, and Palm Beach, Florida.
In October 2007, Ailes donated to Ohio University for a renovated student newsroom. Ailes had majored in radio and television while at Ohio University and served two years as manager of the school's radio station. Starting in 1994, he funded scholarships for Ohio University students in the school's telecommunications programs.
Putnam County senior center
Ailes and his wife Elizabeth, through their charity, ACI Senior Development Corp., promised $500,000 toward the completion of a senior center in Cold Spring, Putnam County, New York. Local opposition to Ailes's participation in the project arose after publication of the sexual harassment accusations against him and in response to a Journal News report about previously undisclosed conditions attached to the proposed gift. Under those conditions, ACI would act as general contractor for the project with no obligation to conduct competitive bidding before awarding construction management and other subcontracts.
Further, ACI was excused from any obligation to pay prevailing wages to workers on the project, workers and subcontractors would have no recourse against ACI in case of payment disputes and ACI would deliver its work without warranty. There was extensive public objection to Ailes's participation. At an August 2, 2016, public hearing, the Putnam County Legislature suspended adoption of the proposed charitable donation agreement with ACI. The next day Ailes withdrew the gift.
In a 2013 book excerpt from Roger Ailes: Off Camera, Ailes spoke about facing death, saying, "Because of my hemophilia, I've been prepared to face death all of my life. When it comes, I'll be fine, calm. I'll miss life, though. Especially my family."
On May 10, 2017, Ailes fell and hit his head at his Palm Beach, Florida home. He died on May 18, three days after his 77th birthday. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner attributed his death to a subdural hematoma, aggravated by hemophilia. His wife, Elizabeth, announced his death in a statement on the Drudge Report.
In popular culture
- Kerwin Swint (2008). Dark Genius: The Influential Career of Legendary Political Operative and Fox News Founder Roger Ailes. Union Square Press. ISBN 978-1-4027-5445-6.
- David Brock (2012). The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine. Anchor. ISBN 978-0-307-27958-3.
- Ze'ev Chafets (2013). Roger Ailes: Off Camera. Sentinel. ISBN 978-1-59523-108-6.
- Gabriel Sherman (2014). The Loudest Voice In The Room: How The Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – And Divided A Country. Random House. ISBN 978-0-8129-9285-4.
- Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (documentary, 2018, dir. Alexis Bloom)
- The 2019 film Bombshell, starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie, is a retelling of Ailes's sexual harassment stories, with most of the real-life characters keeping their names. Ailes is played by John Lithgow.
- Grynbaum, Michael M.; Koblin, John (September 6, 2016). "Fox Settles With Gretchen Carlson Over Roger Ailes Sex Harassment Claims". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
- Current Biography. H.W. Wilson. 1989. p. 14.
- "Warren High Schools' Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame". Warren City Schools. Archived from the original on September 23, 2007. Retrieved November 15, 2007.
- Sherman, Gabriel (2014). The Loudest Voice In The Room: How The Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — And Divided A Country. New York City: Random House. pp. 7–8. ISBN 978-0-8129-9285-4. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
- Sherman, p.15
- "Ohio University to Rename Newsroom for FOX News' Roger Ailes". Associated Press. April 22, 2008.
- "Roger Ailes's BA". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Archived from the original on January 25, 2006. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
- Bernstein, Paula; Littleton, Cynthia; Lowry, Brian (May 18, 2017). "Roger Ailes, Fox News Founder Who Was Forced Out by Scandal, Dies at 77". Variety. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
- Flint, Joe (May 18, 2018). "Roger Ailes, Former Fox News Chief, Dies at 77". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- McFarland, Melanie (May 19, 2017). "Master deceivers: When Roger Ailes met Richard Nixon". Salon. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
- Grove, Lloyd (December 8, 2018). "Before Roger Ailes was a disgraced Fox News mogul, he was George H.W. Bush's 'wily media man'". Washington Post. Washington DC: Nash Holdings, LLC.
- Bogus, Carl T. (March 17, 1997). "The Death of an Honorable Profession". Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Law School. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
- Carlson, Michael (May 18, 2017). "Roger Ailes obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Grove, Lloyd (November 19, 2002). "The Reliable Source: Roger Ailes-Bob Woodward Smackdown?". The Washington Post.
- Woodward, Bob (2002). Bush at War. New York City: Simon and Schuster. p. 207. ISBN 9780743215381.
Ailes ... was currently the head of FOX News ... In that position, Ailes was not supposed to be giving political advice.
- "Fox chief too cozy with White House?". CNN. November 19, 2002. Archived from the original on October 30, 2007.
- Colford, Paul D. (November 19, 2002). "Didn't Help W, Ailes Sez: Fox News boss disputes book". New York Daily News.
- Ailes, Roger; Krausher, Jon (1988). You Are the Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators. New York City: Dow Jones-Irwin. ISBN 978-0-87094-976-0.
- Castillo, Michelle (July 20, 2016). "How embattled Fox News CEO Roger Ailes transformed cable news". CNBC. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Sherman, Gabriel (September 2, 2016). "The Revenge of Roger's Angels". New York. New York City: New York Media.
- Brancaccio, David (October 7, 1996). "Marketplace: News Archives". Marketplace. Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
- Angwin, Julia (October 3, 2006). "After Riding High With Fox News, Murdoch Aide Has Harder Slog". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 15, 2007.
- Steinberg, Jacques (July 19, 2006). "Coming in January, A Fox Morning Show". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
- Pilkington, Ed (January 27, 2011). "Rabbis warn Rupert Murdoch: Fox News and Glenn Beck 'using' Holocaust". The Guardian.
- Pinkas, Alon (January 27, 2011). "US rabbis pen letter criticizing Beck's Holocaust usage". Jpost.com. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- Kurtz, Howard (November 17, 2010). "Fox News Chief Blasts NPR 'Nazis'". Daily Beast.
- "ADL Accepts Apology From Fox News CEO Roger Ailes For Inappropriate". adl.org. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Foxman, Abraham H. (February 1, 2011). "The Good Rabbis Were Certainly Not Speaking for Us". Letters to the Editor. The Wall Street Journal.
- Bercovici, Jeff (October 19, 2012). "Roger Ailes Signs Deal To Stay At Fox News Through 2016". Forbes. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
- Zelman, Joanna (January 7, 2014). "Shocking New Claims About Fox News Chief". Huffington Post.
- Koblin, John (July 8, 2016). "Roger Ailes, Arguing Gretchen Carlson Breached Contract, Presses for Arbitration". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- Gold, Hadas (July 6, 2016). "21st Century Fox launching 'internal review' at Fox News following Gretchen Carlson lawsuit". Politico. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
- Wemple, Erik (November 14, 2016). "Roger Ailes issues grand denial of sexual harassment charges in Megyn Kelly's new book". Washington Post.
- Farhi, Paul (August 4, 2016). "What is feminist hero Susan Estrich doing representing Roger Ailes?". Washington Post.
- Sherman, Gabriel (July 9, 2016). "Six More Women Allege That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Them". New York. Archived from the original on July 10, 2016. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
- Sherman, Gabriel (July 18, 2016). "Murdochs Have Decided to Remove Roger Ailes — the Only Question Now Is When". New York. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- Sherman, Gabriel (July 19, 2016). "Sources: Megyn Kelly Told Murdoch Investigators That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Her". New York. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
- "Roger Ailes Resigns From Fox News Amid Sexual Harassment Accusations". Time. July 21, 2016.
- Redden, Molly (July 21, 2016). "Roger Ailes leaves Fox News in wake of sexual harassment claims". The Guardian.
- Balakrishnan, Anita; Castillo, Michelle (July 21, 2016). "Roger Ailes resigns as CEO of Fox News". CNBC. Retrieved August 22, 2016. Article with text of Ailes's resignation letter.
- Shaw, Lucas (July 21, 2016). "Rupert Murdoch to Succeed Ailes as Head of Fox News Channel". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- Sherman, Gabriel (August 8, 2016). "Fox News Host Andrea Tantaros Says She Was Taken Off the Air After Making Sexual-Harassment Claims Against Roger Ailes". New York. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
- "Ex-Fox News Host Says Scott Brown Put His Hands On Her, Made Sexually Suggestive Comments". CBS News. August 23, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
- Sutton, Kelsey (August 23, 2016). "Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros sues for sexual harassment". Politico. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
- Ross, Shelly. "Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Me. I Thought I Was The First and Last". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
- Brittany King (November 16, 2016). "Megyn Kelly's Shocking Memoir: 9 Things We Learned About Roger Ailes' Alleged Sexual Harassment". People Magazine.
- Haberman, Maggie; Parker, Ashley (August 16, 2016). "Roger Ailes is advising Donald Trump ahead of Presidential election". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
- Sherman, Gabriel (September 2, 2016). "The Revenge of Roger's Angels". NY Mag. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
- "Our publisher". The Putnam County News & Recorder. Archived from the original on August 11, 2016. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- "The Putnam County Courier history". Putnam County Courier. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- Simpson, Connor (January 8, 2014). "Inside the Paranoid World of Fox News's Roger Ailes". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Sherman, Gabriel (January 8, 2014). "Citizen Ailes". New York.
- Trotter, J.K. (September 15, 2014). "Fox News Boss Roger Ailes Treats Cops as His Personal Minions". Gawker. Archived from the original on July 11, 2016. Retrieved 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
- Fehrman, Craig (January 21, 2011). "When Roger Ailes was honest about what he does". Salon. San Francisco, California: Salon Media Group. Archived from the original on February 28, 2011. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- "Ohio University Outlook". Ohio.edu. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- Alumnus Roger Ailes helps fund newsroom, Ohio.edu, October 31, 2007.
- "Ailes chips in for alma mater's new newsroom — Giving". NBC News. November 1, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- Wilson, David McKay (August 3, 2016). "Roger Ailes withdraws $500K senior center donation after outcry". The Journal News. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- Wilson, David McKay (August 2, 2016). "TAX WATCH: Ailes center shrouded in secrecy". The Journal News. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- Gross, Eric (August 3, 2016). "Legislators Table Senior Center Lease, Angry Residents Reject Charitable Donation". The Putnam County News and Recorder. Archived from the original on August 6, 2016. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- McKay Wilson, David (August 3, 2016). "Roger Ailes withdraws $500k Putnam gift after outcry". The Journal News. White Plains, New York: Gannett Company. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
- Chafets, Zef (March 6, 2013). "Exclusive Excerpt: Roger Ailes Off Camera". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Fisher, Marc (May 18, 2017). "Roger Ailes, architect of conservative TV juggernaut Fox News, is dead at 77". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- "Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News, dead at 77". Fox News. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- "Roger Ailes fell, hit head at Palm Beach home on May 10, no evidence of foul play". WPTV. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Battaglio, Stephen; Meg, James (May 18, 2017). "Death of Fox News founder Roger Ailes in Palm Beach County ruled accidental". Sun-Sentinel. Los Angeles Times.
- Schwartz, Ryan (May 18, 2017). "Roger Ailes, Former Chairman and CEO of Fox News, Dead at 77". Yahoo! News. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Entertainment Weekly
- LA Times 2019-11-26
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Roger Ailes|
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Roger Ailes on Charlie Rose
- Roger Ailes at IMDb
- "Roger Ailes collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
- Profile at the Museum of Broadcast Communications
- Campaign contributions from NewsMeat
- Conversation with Roger Ailes from The Kalb Report, extended video interview about the rise of Fox News Channel, his future goals at FOX News, and bias in the media (audio only), 2004–2005 series
- Natural-Born Networker Thomas Hayden, U.S. News & World Report, October 31, 2005, profile and Q&A