Media titan Roger Ailes, who resigned from his positions as chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network amid sexual harassment allegations last year, has died at age 77.
Ailes resigned from Fox last summer in the wake of former Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Ailes had denied the allegations by Carlson, who claimed she was fired after she refused to have a sexual relationship with the executive.
Ailes founded Fox News and helped shape the modern cable news landscape in the process. Before that, he worked as a producer and also worked in politics as a consultant. In the early 1990s, he served as president of CNBC, which he left to create Fox News.
In a statement, his wife Elizabeth Ailes said: “I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning surrounded by his beautiful family. Roger was my best friend, the most wonderful loving husband and father to our son Zachary, He was a loyal friend to so many. Roger was a patriot, 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.”
In a separate statement, Douglas H. Wigdor, attorney for multiple plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Ailes wrote, “The sudden passing of Roger Ailes will make it difficult for Fox News to refute the allegations against him as his testimony was not secured by sworn testimony to date.”
No cause of death was given.
Even after Ailes left the network, Fox found itself embroiled in additional sexual harassment claims. A new lawsuit earlier this year made fresh allegations against Ailes while a New York Times investigation found that multiple women received settlements after making sexual harassment claims against Bill O’Reilly.
After a wave of advertisers pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s program, Fox News announced he would leave the network, marking the second high-profile man to depart amid sexual harassment allegations. O’Reilly has denied the allegations.