Roger Ailes, the embattled former CEO of Fox News who built the news station into the conservative media empire that it’s become, died Thursday. He was 77.
“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth, wrote in a statement, the New York Times reports. “Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many.”
Ailes founded the network in the mid-1990s, calling it a news station that would be “fair and balanced.”
Ailes was riding high for the better part of his career, becoming a kingmaker for Republican hopefuls, until sexual harassment claims cost him his job. Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes for sexual harassment, and other female Fox employees, including former Fox star Megyn Kelly, came forward to support Carlson’s claims, CNN reports. Carlson would eventually settle with Fox’s parent company, Twenty-First Century Fox, for $20 million.
“Today America lost one of its great patriotic warriors,” Sean Hannity, a Fox prime-time host, said on Twitter.