Roger Ailes, the highly controversial pundit who turned Fox News into the leading cable destination for right-wing viewers, has died at the age of 77.
“The Father of Fox News” launched the network in 1996, and remained at the helm until last summer. Ailes ended his career in disgrace and was ousted after several women accused him of sexual harassment, including former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who settled with 20th Century Fox for $20 million. This April, the network dropped Bill O’ Reilly, one of the network’s biggest stars and a longtime friend of Ailes, after he faced his own allegations of sexual harassment.
Ailes will be remembered for emboldening generations of journalists to traffic in racism, sexism, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT rhetoric.
In a touching obit, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi gave the disgraced former media mogul a fitting sendoff:
“We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.
Ailes was the Christopher Columbus of hate.”