Ailes' political legacy: GOP control in divided America

Danny Woods
May 19, 2017

The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office says the Fox News Channel founder died of a subdural hematoma - or bleeding on the brain - caused by the fall.

The network that the Murdochs owned but that he built has in the past year been buffeted by sexual harassment scandals - allegations that forced Ailes himself out last summer and later claimed the network's biggest star, Bill O'Reilly.

In a tweet Thursday, Bush wrote, "not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help".

The former Fox News chairman was credited with turning the news channel into a ratings powerhouse over his 20 years at the helm.

Carlson alleged at least six conditions in which Ailes referred to her body, intimidated her or used demeaning language.

Twenty-First Century Fox had no immediate statement. The announcement was made on July 21.

Ailes was famous for his shrewd leadership of Fox, including his focus on airing conservative opinions and hiring anchors and reporters with big personalities.

Part of what made Ailes a genius, or a villain, Berkovitz said, was his keen sense for what made voters tick, and what ticked them off.

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Brash, heavyset and bombastic, he was renowned for never giving in, for being ever confrontational with a chip on his shoulder and a blistering outburst at the ready.

It was during a 1967 taping of "The Mike Douglas Show" that Ailes met future president Richard Nixon, who later tapped him to serve as his executive producer for television. In the years that followed, as NPR's David Folkenflik has reported, Ailes "kept toggling between producing television specials and serving as a political consultant, sometimes doing both at once". It was a very warm and loving and comfortable place'.

"Apart from the presidents he served, he was arguably the single most important figure in the creation of modern conservatism", David Greenberg, a Rutgers University political scientist, wrote in an essay for Politico previous year.

He brought America Fox News and helped Nixon soften his surly image in 1968 and Trump's out-of-nowhere presidential bid past year. He would go on to advise President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and President George H.W. Bush in 1988, according to Folkenflik. It was a campaign widely seen as being no less nasty than it was successful.

"In the years I worked with Ailes he was a great mentor, deeply patriotic, committed to Fox News and really anxious about America", Gingrich tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Though Ailes helped grow Fox News into the conservative news titan it is today, he will be remembered just as much for his many controversies and for the women who accused him of making their lives miserable.

A few weeks later, Nixon hired Ailes as a media adviser for his 1968 presidential campaign. He seemed incapable of stopping Trump's rise as the GOP's top contender for the 2016 election.

At the time, his bank accounts were reportedly flush with an estimated $40 million paid to Ailes by Rupert Murdoch's conservative TV empire when it fired Ailes. His wife, Elizabeth, an NBC News veteran with a Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University, announced her husband's passing in a statement to Drudge Report early on May 18, 2017.

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