Ailes' political legacy: GOP control in divided America

Posted May 19, 2017

Host Neil Cavuto paid tribute Thursday to his former boss, Roger Ailes, the founder of both Fox News and FOX Business, who died hours earlier at the age of 77.

A statement from his wife Elizabeth said she was "profoundly sad and heartbroken", calling him a "patriot".

In a tweet on Thursday, Bush said, "He wasn't flawless, but Roger Ailes was my friend & I loved him".

In 2016, Ailes stepped down from his post as CEO after he was accused of sexual harassment by Fox News employee, Gretchen Carlson. Ailes left Fox with a tarnished legacy over allegations of sexual harassment.

Under Ailes' leadership, Fox became America's most watched cable news channel, home to key conservative political commentators and drawing an audience distinct from rivals CNN and MSNBC.

"RIP Roger Ailes a good friend, great American and communications genius @StoneColdTruth", - author and political adviser Roger Stone. "In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs".

In this August 17, 1988 file photo, Vice President George H.W. Bush, left, gets some advice from his media advisor, Roger Ailes, right, as they stand behind the podium at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., prior to the start of the Republican National Convention. "For decades, RA (Roger Ailes) has impacted American politics and media". It was Ailes who called CNN "Clinton News Network", and CBS "Communist Broadcasting System".

While many on social media are coming together to mourn Ailes, there are those who are looking back on him with distaste due to his sexual harassment history.

After graduating in 1962, he started working on the The Mike Douglas Show, which gave him "a keen eye for production", according to David Folkenflik, author of Murdoch's World: The Last of the Old Media Empires, about 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News. By introducing a style of politically driven news, with in-your-face commentary, leaning hard to the right, coupled with heated debates, Ailes changed the trajectory of journalism.

"When a blackmailer entered my life and the lives of my family, he held my hand and saw me to the other side", Smith said of Ailes' character.

Carlson said there had been at least six instances when Ailes talked about her body, intimidated her or used demeaning language. "Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media". The suit triggered similar claims from other women and an in-house investigation at Fox. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elizabeth and son Zachary".

Nor would Donald Trump likely have landed in the Oval Office without the support of the Ailes-built Fox News Nation.