Roger Ailes, the controversial founder and CEO of Fox News who lost his position last year due to a sexual harassment scandal, died Thursday morning at 77.
Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth, announced the news through a statement and said the family is “profoundly sad and heartbroken” by the loss. The statement did not list a cause of death or any other details, but The New York Times notes Ailes was a hemophiliac long afflicted by obesity and arthritis. He also had an accident eight days prior to his death. Emergency personnel were called to his Palm Beach, Florida home after Ailes fell in a bathroom. A police report said there was “serious” bleeding and injury to his head, according to NBC News.
Ailes was the longtime chairman and CEO of Fox News and built it into the incredibly popular channel it is now over two decades. But he was ousted from his own company last year after a series of sexual harassment allegations came out.
His resignation came two weeks after former anchor Gretchen Carlson alleged Ailes had sexually harassed her, according to The Los Angeles Times. Ailes dismissed the allegations, but then several more women also accused Ailes of harassment, including Megyn Kelly. Carlson's lawyers said in August of 2016 that more than 20 people had come forward to accuse Ailes.
President Trump defended Ailes at the time and told "Meet the Press” that Ailes’ accusers were “saying these horrible things about him.” “It’s very sad,” Trump said. “Because he’s a very good person. I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person.”
Ailes was also part of an ongoing federal investigation into how 21st Century Fox handled the allegations—by paying large settlements to make accusations go away.
Ailes reportedly received $40 million in an exit agreement with Fox. He had since kept a lower profile after his resignation in July.
NBC reports Ailes was the son of a factory foreman and began his television career in Cleveland, Ohio. He worked for a conservative news network called Television News Incorporated in the early 1970s, which later served as a blueprint for Fox News.
Ailes also became heavily involved in Washington politics before founding Fox News in 1996 and was a media consultant for Republican presidential candidates Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.