Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News Channel who created a conservative media powerhouse before getting taken down by a storm of sexual harrassment allegations, died Thursday morning. He was 77.
"I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning," his wife Elizabeth Ailes said in a statement first posted by the Drudge Report. "Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise—and to give back. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life."
Fox News confirmed the news on-air moments later. Anchor Bill Hemmer offered prayers on behalf of the network to Ailes' family.
Ailes is credited with almost single-handedly creating the juggernaut that Fox has become in cable news and politics.
He was ousted as the head of Fox News last summer after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, bringing simmering rumors about Fox's workplace environment to a boiling point. Months later, star anchor Bill O'Reilly was fired after being confronted with his own scandal.
Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of Fox, said in a statement that "everybody at Fox News is shocked and grieved by the death of Roger Ailes."
That statement said Ailes "will be remembered by the many people on both sides of the camera he discovered, nurtured and promoted. We shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have. Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs. At [parent company] 21st Century Fox we'll appreciate him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and son."
The Associated Press reported that, according to a Palm Beach police report, Ailes was said to have fallen in his home bathroom on May 10, resulting in a head injury with "serious bleeding."
Fox personalities and associates began reacting on social media Thursday.
Sean Hannity wrote on Twitter, "Today America lost one of its great patriotic warriors. Roger Ailes. For Decades [Ailes] has impacted American politics and media."
Today America lost one of its great patriotic warriors. Roger Ailes. For Decades RA's has impacted American politics and media.— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 18, 2017
Bret Baier, anchor of the network's daily primetime newscast "Special Report," said Ailes "changed television as we know it."
"OMG Roger Ailes is gone, devastating news, and [wife] Erica and I send our condolences to Beth, their son Zack and the entire family," Geraldo Rivera wrote on Twitter. "He was a great man."
Matt Drudge, editor of the Drudge Report, called Ailes an "a true American classic" who "brought news to life."
Fox analyst and former anchor of "Special Report" Brit Hume said, "Terribly sad news. R.I.P."
"Roger Ailes founded one of the most important and successful media outlets in American history," said Fox contributor and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. "I will miss his friendship dearly. RIP."
Roger Ailes founded one of the most important and successful media outlets in American history. I will miss his friendship dearly. RIP.— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) May 18, 2017