Roger Ailes, who turned Fox News into a feverish, tyrannical instrument of conservative power in America before being brought down by allegations of serial sexual harassment, died Thursday morning. He was 77.
His death was first reported by the Drudge Report, which posted a statement from his wife, Elizabeth:
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. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life...
The less charitable take on Ailes was that he was a monster—a sickening abuser of women and the creator of a poisonous media empire which thrived on conspiracy, lies, and bigotry, and whose central purpose was to elect Republicans. By all accounts, Ailes was very gifted in all of these pursuits.
Ailes resigned from the network he built back in July, amid a flurry of allegations that he had sexually harassed, threatened, and abused women who worked for Fox News for decades.
According to the women who have come forward to share their stories, Ailes regularly demeaned them in front of coworkers and made untoward sexual advances in private, while making clear that their response could either make or break their careers at Fox News. He denied all the allegations until the bitter end.
Ailes also fostered a culture that systematically shielded other abusers from reprisal and quickly dispensed with the women who dared speak up about their treatment. For his years of distinguished service, he left the network without admitting any wrongdoing and with a $40 million golden parachute to fund the lifestyle he was accustomed to until the end of his days.
Fortunately, he met his end after his evil was fully exposed to the world. In that way, justice was served.