Some will mourn, some will cheer, but there is no doubt that Roger Ailes left his imprint on the Media establishment in America.
A master of communications, Mr. Ailes turned Rupert Murdoch’s dream of a cable outfit that leaned right yet offered viewers more ideological balance, into a powerhouse. Fox News still sits in the number one position for cable news at this writing. And that was in large part due to Ailes and his ability to spot talent and provide production values that were friendly, fair and consumable to the American public.
Ailes hailed from Warren, Ohio, was a communications savant and political powerbroker in and around Washington for decades. He founded Fox News in 1996 and resigned this August amid charges of sexual harassment. Charges that he vehemently denied.
But there is no denying Ailes impact on the modern American television industry. And many Fox favorites still have kind words for their former chairman:
“Roger Ailes founded one of the most important and successful media outlets in American history,” said conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. “I will miss his friendship dearly.”
“Today, America lost one of its great patriotic warriors,” Hannity tweeted. “He has dramatically and forever changed the political and the media landscape, single-handedly for the better.”
Still others maintain that Ailes was divisive, according to the Chicago Tribune:
“No one did more to change the media landscape than Roger Ailes, but no media executive did more to divide America,” said Joe Peyronnin, a former network news executive who worked for Fox before Ailes was hired to launch the news channel.
“Ailes had a clear vision for a alternative news channel in 1996, and by rigorously managing its conservative content, he build the most powerful and profitable news brand in the world. Ailes was a brilliant TV executive who saw an opportunity two decades ago to build a conservative news source and seized it, and then with his singular and rigid focus he succeeded beyond even his wildest dreams.”
Since Ailes sudden departure, Fox News has experienced even more upheaval. Recently the network’s biggest rating star, Bill O’Reilly was forced to resign under similar allegations to those of Ailes.
Roger Ailes leaves behind a controversial legacy that will likely be viewed along partisan lines. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth and son Zachary. Ailes died at the age of seventy-seven.
A widely published columnist, Leesa previously worked in the broadcast news industry as a television news anchor, reporter, and producer at NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC.She is the author of "Free At Last: A Life-Changing Journey through the Gospel of Luke."