Roger Ailes, the man who changed American television, influenced elections and even our culture, died Thursday in Florida. Ailes apparently fell one week before his death and suffered a head injury, according to a 911 call obtained by the New York Post. “There is SERIOUS bleeding,” the caller told the dispatcher, adding that the fall just occurred and was accidental. The bleeding from the injury ultimately led to his death a week later, according to reports.
Ailes suffered from a number of health problems, including a lifelong battle with hemophilia. Six years ago, Ailes predicted he had six to ten years left to live.
“My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately,” Ailes told Vanity Fair in 2011. “The actuaries say I have six to eight years. The best tables give me 10. Three thousand days, more or less.”
Ailes felt comfortable talking about his own death and his belief in the afterlife. In Zev Chafets’s 2013 book, “Roger Ailes: Off Camera,” Ailes said, “Because of my hemophilia, I’ve been prepared to face death all of my life. As a boy I spent a lot of time in hospitals. My parents had to leave at the end of visiting hours, and I spent a lot of time just lying there in the dark, thinking about the fact that any accident could be dangerous or even fatal. So I’m ready.”
“Everybody fears the unknown,” he continued. “But I have a strong feeling there’s something bigger than us. I don’t think all this exists because some rocks happened to collide. I’m at peace.
“When it comes, I’ll be fine, calm. I’ll miss life, though. Especially my family.”
Ailes created the Fox News Network in 1996 and turned it into a media powerhouse. He is credited with helping Republicans win presidential elections. In fact, President George H.W. Bush tweeted Thursday, “He wasn’t perfect, but Roger Ailes was my friend & I loved him. Not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help. RIP.”
He wasn’t perfect, but Roger Ailes was my friend & I loved him. Not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help. RIP.
— George Bush (@GeorgeHWBush) May 18, 2017
The soaring ratings and mega-revenue as a result were directly attributable to Ailes, who remained hands-on in the daily operations of FNC.
That all ended in July, when Ailes was forced to resign amidst scandal. Gretchen Carlson, one of FNC’s most recognizable on-air talents, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, which contained lurid details of what she described as her interactions with Ailes. After that, other female Fox employees alleged similar mistreatment by Ailes, including Meghan Kelly, another high-profile anchor. Both women left the network.
Although Fox was routinely dubbed a “conservative” news network, Ailes pushed-back on that label, saying Fox only appeared conservative when compared to the other networks because they were so left-leaning. It was Ailes who called CNN “Clinton News Network,” and CBS “Communist Broadcasting System.”
Dan Gainor with the Media Research Center told CBN News Ailes was a “media genius,” citing the vast, untapped television viewing market with whom Ailes connected. Gainor said the overwhelming success of Fox outraged the other networks who were left in the dust. Gainor said that anger remains as strong today as ever, pointing out Thursday’s hateful response to Ailes’ death, actually celebrating his passing.
Watch Media Research Council’s Dan Gainor discuss the life and passing of Fox News Founder Roger Ailes.