Roger Ailes

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Roger Ailes
Roger Ailes, TV Titan 03 (cropped).jpg
Roger Eugene Ailes

(1940-05-15)May 15, 1940
DiedMay 18, 2017(2017-05-18) (aged 77)
Alma mater Ohio University
OccupationFormer President of Fox News
Chair of Fox Television
Political party Republican
Marjorie White
(m. 1960;div. 1977)

Norma Ferrer
(m. 1981;div. 1995)

Elizabeth Tilson(m. 1998)

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 and Fox Television Stations, from which he resigned in July 2016 after allegations of sexual harassment came forward. 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 2016, he became an adviser to the Donald Trump campaign, where he assisted with debate preparation.

Fox News American television news channel

Fox News is an American pay television news channel. It is owned by the Fox News Group, which itself was owned by News Corporation from 1996–2013, 21st Century Fox from 2013–2019, and Fox Corporation since 2019. The channel broadcasts primarily from studios at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City. Fox News is provided in 86 countries or overseas territories worldwide, with international broadcasts featuring Fox Extra segments during ad breaks.

Fox Television Stations television station division of Fox

Fox Television Stations, LLC, is a group of television stations located within the United States which are owned-and-operated by the Fox Broadcasting Company, a subsidiary of the Fox Corporation.

A media consultant is a marketing agent or public relations executive that is hired by businesses or political candidates to obtain positive press coverage. Media consultants usually draft press releases to highlight positive achievements of a business, organization, or individual. In politics, media consultants create advertisement campaigns to plant a desired image in the minds of voters.


Ailes suffered from hemophilia, a medical condition in which the body is impaired in its ability to produce blood clots, which are required to reduce bleeding. He died on May 18, 2017, at the age of 77, after suffering a subdural hematoma, which was aggravated by his hemophilia.

Subdural hematoma Hematoma usually associated with traumatic brain injury

A subdural hematoma (SDH) is a type of hematoma—usually associated with traumatic brain injury—in which blood gathers between the inner layer of the dura mater and the arachnoid mater. It usually results from tears in bridging veins that cross the subdural space.

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. [1] 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. [2] His father was abusive, and his parents divorced in 1960. [3] :560

Warren, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Warren is a city in and the county seat of Trumbull County, Ohio, United States. The municipality is located in northeastern Ohio, approximately 14 miles (23 km) northwest of Youngstown and 15 miles (24 km) west of the Pennsylvania border.

In 1962, Ailes graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he majored in radio and television and served as the student station manager for WOUB for two years. [4] [5]

Ohio University public university in Athens, Ohio, United States

Ohio University is a public research university in Athens, Ohio. The first university chartered by an Act of Congress and the first to be chartered in Ohio, it was chartered in 1787 by the Congress of the Confederation and subsequently approved for the territory in 1802 and state in 1804, opening for students in 1809. Ohio University is the oldest university in Ohio, the eighth oldest public university in the United States and the 30th oldest university among public's and privates. As of fall 2018, the university's total enrollment at Athens was 20,000, while the all- campus enrollment was just under 35,000.

Athens, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Athens is a city and the county seat of Athens County, Ohio, United States. Athens is most widely known as the home of Ohio University, a large public research university with an enrollment of more than 36,800 students across all campuses. Located along the Hocking River in the southeastern part of Ohio about 65 miles (105 km) southeast of Columbus, Athens is the principal city of the Athens, Ohio Micropolitan Statistical Area. The official population of Athens in the 2010 U.S. Census was 23,832, with a daytime population of over 40,000


WOUB, is a public radio station in Athens, Ohio. Unlike its FM counterpart, WOUB-FM, WOUB AM is generally more of a community radio station, with mainly programming for residents of Athens County, plus alternative music programming, and news from the BBC, among other programs.


Early television

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, [6] 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. [6]

Cleveland City in Ohio

Cleveland is a major city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and the county seat of Cuyahoga County. The city proper has a population of 385,525, making it the 51st-largest city in the United States, and the second-largest city in Ohio. Greater Cleveland is ranked as the 32nd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 2,055,612 people in 2016. The city anchors the Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area, which had a population of 3,515,646 in 2010 and is ranked 15th in the United States.

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

WKYC NBC affiliate in Cleveland

WKYC is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 17 from a transmitter in suburban Parma, Ohio. Owned by Tegna Inc., WKYC maintains studios on Tom Beres Way.

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. [7] 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. [8] 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. [8]

Richard Nixon 37th president of the United States

Richard Milhous Nixon was an American politician who served as the 37th president of the United States from 1969 until 1974, when he resigned from office, the only U.S. president to do so. He had previously served as the 36th vice president of the United States from 1953 to 1961, and prior to that as both a U.S. representative and senator from California.

Joe McGinniss American journalist (1942-2014)

Joseph Ralph McGinniss, Sr. was an American non-fiction writer and novelist. The author of twelve books, he first came to prominence with the best-selling The Selling of the President 1968 which described the marketing of then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon. He is popularly known for his trilogy of bestselling true crime books — Fatal Vision, Blind Faith and Cruel Doubt — which were adapted into TV miniseries in the 1980s and 90s. His last book was The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, an account of Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska who was the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee.

Political consulting

Ailes in 1984 Ronald Reagan 1984.jpg
Ailes in 1984
Ailes with President Ronald Reagan in 1986 Reagan Contact Sheet C36903 (cropped).jpg
Ailes with President Ronald Reagan in 1986
Ailes with President George H. W. Bush in 1990 Bush Contact Sheet P15686 (cropped).jpg
Ailes with President George H. W. Bush in 1990

In 1984, Ailes worked on the campaign to reelect Ronald Reagan. 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 [9] 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? [10]

Ailes's last campaign was the unsuccessful effort of Richard Thornburgh for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania in November 1991. [11] He announced his withdrawal from political consulting in 1991. [11]

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. [12] 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." [13] Ailes refused to release a copy of the memo he sent to Bush. [14]


In 1988, Ailes wrote a book with long-time aide Jon Kraushar, called You Are the Message: Secrets of the Master Communicators. [15]

President of America 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. [16]


Ailes, left, is pictured in January 1996 with Rupert Murdoch, right, announcing that the Republican adviser would head Fox News Roger Ailes, TV Titan 01.jpg
Ailes, left, is pictured in January 1996 with Rupert Murdoch, right, announcing that the Republican adviser would head Fox News

Ailes was tapped by Rupert Murdoch in 1996 to become the CEO of Fox News, effective on October 7. [17]

Ailes in 2013 Roger Ailes, June 2013.jpg
Ailes in 2013

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 [18] in January 2007.

Ailes hired former CBS 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. [19]

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 a reported $21 million inclusive of bonuses. [20] In addition to heading Fox News and chairing Fox Television Stations, Ailes also chaired 20th Television, MyNetworkTV and Fox Business Network. [20]

In 2016, after he left Fox News, he became an adviser to the Donald Trump campaign, where he assisted with debate preparation. [21]

Contentious comments

In 1995, NBC hired a law firm to conduct an internal investigation after Roger Ailes allegedly called David Zaslav a "little fucking Jew prick." [22]

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, 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". [23] An executive at Fox News rejected the letter, calling it the work of a "George Soros-backed left wing political organization". [23] Ailes is also said to have once referred to Jewish critics of his as "left-wing rabbis". [24]

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." [25]

The ADL welcomed and accepted the apology through its National Director, Abraham Foxman; [26] in a subsequent letter to The Wall Street Journal Foxman said that both Ailes and Beck were "pro-Israel stalwarts". [27]

Sexual harassment allegations and resignation

In a book published in 2014, Gabriel Sherman [3] alleged that, in the 1980s, Ailes offered a television producer a raise if she would sleep with him. [28] Fox News denied the allegation and rejected the authenticity of Sherman's book. [28]

On July 6, 2016, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. Carlson alleged that she had been fired for rebuffing Ailes's advances. [29] [30] Ailes, through his attorney, Susan Estrich, denied the charges. [31] [32] Three days later, Gabriel Sherman reported accounts from six women (two publicly and four anonymously) who alleged sexual harassment by Ailes. [33] In response, Ailes's 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." [33]

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. [34] 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. [35]

On July 21, 2016, Ailes resigned from Fox News, receiving $40 million [36] from Fox in an exit agreement. Rupert Murdoch succeeded him as chairman, and as interim CEO until the naming of a permanent replacement. [37] [38] In a letter to Murdoch, [39] 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 was to continue to advise Murdoch and 21st Century Fox through 2018. [40]

Further allegations after resignation

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. [41] Tantaros filed a lawsuit against Fox News in August 2016 for sexual harassment, also accusing Bill O'Reilly and Scott Brown. [42] [43]

On August 8, 2016, Shelly 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." [44] The next month, 21st Century Fox announced it had settled a lawsuit with Carlson over her allegations of harassment against Ailes. [36] Fox was also reported to have made separate settlements with at least two other women who made complaints about Ailes. [36]

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, Fox pressured Kelly to defend Ailes, which she refused to do. [45]

Personal life

Ailes was married three times; his first two marriages ended in divorce. [46]

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. [47] [48] He had one son, named Zachary, with Elizabeth. [49] 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. [50]

Ailes was a longtime friend of journalist and media personality Barbara Walters. [51]

Ailes also had residences in Cresskill, New Jersey, [52] and Palm Beach, Florida.

Ohio University

In October 2007, Ailes gave a sizeable donation to Ohio University for a renovated student newsroom. [53]

Ailes majored in radio and television while at Ohio University and served two years as manager of the school's radio station. [54] Starting in 1994, he funded scholarships for Ohio University students in the school's telecommunications programs. [55]

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. [56] [57] After 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. [58] The next day Ailes withdrew the gift. [59]


On May 10, 2017, Ailes fell and hit his head at his Palm Beach, Florida home. He died a week later on May 18, just 3 days after his 77th birthday. [60] [61] [62] The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner attributed his death to a subdural hematoma, aggravated by hemophilia. [63] His wife, Elizabeth, announced his death in a statement on the Drudge Report : "I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning". [64]

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." [65]


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