Roger Ailes (born May 15, 1940 – died May 18, 2017) was an influential American television executive, media consultant, and the founder of [[Fox News]] Channel. He played a significant role in shaping [[conservative media]] and American [political]( discourse through his work in television and as a consultant to various [Republican]( politicians. ## Early life and career Roger Eugene Ailes was born in Warren, Ohio. He graduated from Ohio University in 1962 with a degree in radio and television. After college, Ailes began his career in television working as a production assistant on "The Mike Douglas Show," a daytime talk show. He eventually became the show's executive producer. ## Political consulting Ailes transitioned into political consulting in the late 1960s when he met [[Richard Nixon]], who appeared as a guest on "The Mike Douglas Show." Ailes joined Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign as a media advisor, helping to shape Nixon's television appearances and image. His success in this role led to a career as a media consultant for various Republican politicians, including [[Ronald Reagan]] and George H.W. Bush. As a media consultant for Nixon, Ailes focused on improving the candidate's television presence and public image. He was instrumental in organizing carefully controlled television events, such as town hall meetings and televised question-and-answer sessions, to present Nixon as more personable and accessible to the public. Ailes' expertise in staging and managing these events helped Nixon connect with the audience and counteract his image as cold and distant. His work contributed to Nixon's successful presidential campaign, culminating in his election in 1968. ## Ronald Reagan (1984 campaign) Ailes returned to political consulting in the 1980s, working as a media advisor for [[Ronald Reagan]]'s re-election campaign in 1984. He was responsible for preparing Reagan for the presidential debates, ensuring that the president effectively communicated his message to the American public. Ailes helped Reagan craft memorable lines and soundbites that resonated with voters, including the famous quip during the debate with Walter Mondale, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." Reagan won the election in a landslide, and Ailes' role in shaping his media strategy was seen as a contributing factor. ## George H.W. Bush (1988 campaign) Ailes continued his political consulting career by working on George H.W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign. As a media advisor, he played a significant role in crafting the campaign's media strategy, focusing on attacking Bush's opponent, Michael Dukakis. Ailes helped create hard-hitting television ads, including the infamous "Willie Horton" ad, which highlighted the case of a convicted murderer who committed violent crimes while on furlough from a Massachusetts prison during Dukakis' tenure as governor. The ad was widely criticized for its racial undertones (or racist overtones, in hindsight), but it was effective in raising concerns about Dukakis' record on crime. Bush went on to win the election, and Ailes' role in shaping the campaign's media strategy was once again seen as a key factor in the victory. ## TV executive and founding of Fox News In 1984, Ailes left political consulting to return to television, serving as the president of CNBC, a cable business news network. Under his leadership, the network experienced significant growth, and Ailes gained recognition as a skilled television executive. In 1996, media mogul [[Rupert Murdoch]] hired Ailes to launch Fox News Channel, a conservative cable news network. As the CEO and chairman, Ailes built the network into a highly influential and successful news channel that catered to conservative audiences. Under Ailes' leadership, Fox News became a ratings powerhouse and played a significant role in shaping conservative political discourse in the United States. ## Controversy and resignation: Despite his professional success, Ailes faced numerous allegations of sexual harassment throughout his career. In July 2016, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes, accusing him of sexual harassment. The lawsuit led to an internal investigation at Fox News, which uncovered multiple allegations from other women. Amid the growing scandal, Ailes resigned from [[Fox News]] in July 2016. ## Personal life and death Roger Ailes was married twice. He married his first wife, Marjorie White, in 1960, and they had one son, Scott. The couple divorced in 1977. In 1998, Ailes married his second wife, Elizabeth Tilson, with whom he had a son named Zachary. On May 10, 2017, Ailes fell and hit his head at his home in Palm Beach, Florida. He was hospitalized with serious injuries and later died on May 18, 2017, at the age of 77.