Roger Ailes, Former Fox News CEO, Dead at 77

Controversial figure crafted conservative media powerhouse, resigned amid rampant sexual harassment allegations

Roger Ailes, the former Fox News CEO who built the network into a right-wing juggernaut and resigned over allegations of sexual harassment, has died. Credit: Matt Furman/Redux

Roger Ailes, the former CEO of Fox News, who built the network into a conservative media juggernaut but resigned last summer over allegations of sexual harassment, has died, Fox News reports. He was 77.

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

A cause of death has yet to be reported. However, New York Magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman – who has long covered Ailes and Fox – tweeted, "Latest on what we know, per family friend: 'Last week Ailes had some kind of blood clot in Palm Beach. Suffered complications.'" Sherman also noted that Ailes suffered from hemophilia and had undergone multiple surgeries and joint replacements. In another tweet, Sherman said, "Per 2nd family friend on cause of death: Ailes fell in Palm Beach and had a blood clot from the fall. He suffered complications."

Ailes had served as the CEO of Fox News since its founding in 1996 before his ouster in 2016. During his 20-year tenure, he shaped the network into a right-wing bastion for news and thought – a virtual mouthpiece for the Republican Party – that also contributed 25 percent to 21st Century Fox's bottom line.

Last year, Ailes resigned after a number of women at Fox News came forward accusing him of sexual harassment, starting with former morning host Gretchen Carlson and snowballing to include one of the network's marquee hosts at the time, Megyn Kelly. Though Ailes denied all the allegations, the accusations not only led to his ouster, but revealed a long-brewing culture of harassment and intimidation at the network.