*Roger Ailes, the founding CEO of the Fox News Channel — his conservative answer to what was perceived as a liberally biased mainstream media — has died, the network announced Thursday. He was 77.
TMZ reports that he suffered a fall last week:
Sources tell TMZ Ailes fell at his Florida home 8 days ago and hit his head. We’re told Ailes fell unconscious and his condition went downhill. Our sources say he fell into a coma Wednesday and died Wednesday night. Ailes was suffering from numerous and serious health problems, which we’re told contributed to his death.
Ailes resigned as CEO of Fox News in the wake of numerous sexual harassment allegations last summer. The network’s Fox & Friends morning show anchors reported on Ailes’ death, reading a statement obtained by Matt Drudge, from Ailes’ widow Elizabeth.
“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” Elizabeth Ailes said. “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.”
Ailes is responsible for the amplification of Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and other right-leaning Fox News hosts. Ailes described Fox News as “real journalism,” “fair and balanced” and, more recently, with the phrase, “we report, you decide.”
Left-leaning AlterNet petitioned unsuccessfully to have the U.S. Patent Office rescind the network’s “fair and balanced” trademark, arguing it was inaccurate, and Ailes and Fox News was the No. 1 target of progressive watchdog group Media Matters for America.
Ailes’ Fox News is also credited with turning former grassroots movement the Tea Party into an estimated 40-million strong political force.
In 2011, Rolling Stone compared Ailes to former Communist dictator Mao Tse-tung and accused him of “redbaiting,” of having been “on the take from Big Tobacco,” injecting “venom into the media bloodstream” and orchestrating “disinformation” campaigns; it also quoted myriad insiders who said he was anti-gay, anti-Muslim and anti-Jew. “It is Ailes who built the most formidable propaganda machine ever seen outside of the Communist bloc,” reporter Tim Dickinson concluded in the article.