Former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes Is Dead

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"I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning", widow Elizabeth Ailes said in a statement Thursday.

Mr Ailes, she said, was "the most wonderful loving husband (to me) and father to our son Zachary".

The cause of Ailes' death has not yet been disclosed.

But in little more than two weeks, both his legacy and job unraveled following allegations by former anchor Gretchen Carlson that he had forced her out of Fox News after she spurned his sexual advances.

Yet last summer he left amid huge controversy, earning tens of millions of dollars in a payout after allegations of sexual harassment were launched against him by former employees.

"Apart from the presidents he served, he was arguably the single most important figure in the creation of modern conservatism", Mr David Greenberg, a Rutgers University political scientist, wrote in an essay for Politico past year.

Ailes, an OH native, began his television career in the early 1960s as a producer at The Mike Douglas Show in Cleveland, and went onto serve as media consultant for several Republican presidents, including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

He was also a longtime friend of President Trump, who defended Ailes against the accusations of sexual harassment, saying Ailes had helped "some of the women that are complaining".

Murdoch called Ailes "a great patriot" in a statement Thursday.

In 1996, Murdoch, seeing a market for a conservative cable news outlet, hired Ailes to create Fox News.

Since Ailes sudden departure, Fox News has experienced even more upheaval.

"The history of cable television will have a very big chapter on Roger Ailes". One of the executives who replaced Ailes, Bill Shine, lasted only eight months. He abruptly resigned last July.

Ailes hailed from Warren, Ohio, was a communications savant and political powerbroker in and around Washington for decades. Or that Ailes, who helped craft former President Richard Nixon's anger-stoked presidential campaign, informally advised Trump during his run for president. He later worked for other Republican leaders, from Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Ailes long commanded one of the pillars of Murdoch's media empire, and a unit of the Murdoch-led conglomerate 21st Century Fox.

"You don't get President Trump without Roger Ailes", CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer said. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth and son Zachary.