(ABC News) – Roger Ailes, the former chairman of Fox News, is dead at age 77.
Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth Ailes, announced his death in a statement.
“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning surrounded by his beautiful family,” the statement said. “Roger was my best friend, the most wonderful loving husband and father to our son Zachary. He was a loyal friend to so many. Roger was a patriot, grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise-and to give back.”
The cause of death is unknown.
Ailes’ career in media and politics spanned more than five decades. He began in media by working for “The Mike Douglas Show,” which gave him “a keen eye for production,” according to David Folkenflik, NPR’s media correspondent and author of “Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires,” about 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News. He went into politics when he started to advise President Richard Nixon on how to connect with television viewers.
He would go on to advise President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and President George H.W. Bush in 1988, according to Folkenflik.
In 1996 he helped launch Fox News, which would dramatically change the media landscape. He was forced out last summer after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson accused Ailes of sexual harassment in a lawsuit.
After he resigned from Fox News, Ailes reportedly returned to politics. Sources told ABC News he was advising President Donald Trump during his preparation for the presidential debates, although Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied his involvement at the time.
“He is not advising Mr. Trump or helping with debate prep. They are longtime friends, but he has no formal or informal role in the campaign,” Hicks told ABC News in a statement last August.