Media titan Roger Ailes is dead at age 77. The founder of Fox News died on Thursday, May 18, 2017, according to a statement from his wife, Elizabeth. As one of the most influential members of modern media, despite a personal life riddled with scandal, Ailes made Fox News a powerhouse for ratings and changed the landscape for media.
The media mogul also had a huge impact on American politics. As the longtime head of Fox News, he created a television climate that transformed the news dynamic. By introducing a style of politically driven news, with in-your-face commentary, leaning hard to the right, coupled with heated debates, Ailes changed the trajectory of journalism. The media titan is dead, but his legacy continues.
Ironically, amid news of his death, it seems Fox News is struggling after huge payouts from claims of sexual assault by Ailes and longtime comrade, Bill O’Reilly. Nearly a year after the former Fox President was fired due to sexual assault allegations; the network is still paying lawsuits. Fox is being forced to respond to the negative culture that caused them to lose their most successful anchor and others.
Since that time, Fox News remains mired in controversy. Thus far, the network shelled out $45 million on Ailes’ behalf to settle some of the more than 20 cases by women who accused the mastermind of sexual assault. Additionally, the network has lost advertisers, faced an unprecedented level of negative press, and is constantly on the losing end of ratings against MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
Ailes is credited with doing more than anyone has to change the landscape of media but also more to divide the country with great political influence. His wife, of course, was privy to a side of the mogul than many others were not. When reporting the death of her husband she said:
I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. 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.
Unfortunately, as great of a mastermind that Ailes was, scandals such as those alleged will live on in the horrific memories and tortured psyches of his victims. That is not to suggest that he was an evil man, but the behavior attached to his legacy is devious. What many will remember as the network lives on are the people in positions of power who covered it up. Sadly, this evil may bury six feet under whatever good he has accomplished with his remains. Ailes died amid high payouts in lawsuits.
As a titan in the industry, without a degree in journalism, Ailes managed to create a news outlet that changed the game for politics. On his station, instead of simple facts, news included an interpretation with a partisan spin. It introduced viewers to a style resembling political combat. This mentality reset the rules for American political reporting.
The media titan is dead amid huge payouts, but his legacy lives on. He created monumental strides of success for Fox News while leaving the network laden in lawsuits. Roger Ailes’ passing is undoubtedly big news but is it larger than the remnant of scandals and high payouts he leaves behind?
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
CNN: How Roger Ailes changed the media — and America
Los Angeles Times: Roger Ailes, polarizing Fox News founder forced out by scandal, dies at 77
Fox News: Roger Ailes had lengthy career making politicians TV-ready
Ring of Fire Radio: Fox News Still Paying Big For Roger Ailes’ Sexual Crimes
All Images Courtesy of Ninian Reid’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License