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Roger Ailes dead at 77

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Roger Ailes, the former founder, chairman and CEO of Fox News, died today, Drudge Report first reported. He was 77.

His wife Elizabeth Ailes gave a statement to the Drudge Report:

I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. 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 coverage below:

Breaking News: Former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has died, his family announced. pic.twitter.com/AksPdNSZaI — Fox News (@FoxNews) May 18, 2017

Rupert Murdoch's statement:

"Everybody at Fox News is shocked and grieved by the death of Roger Ailes. A brilliant broadcaster, Roger played a huge role in shaping America's media over the last thirty years. He will be remembered by the many people on both sides of the camera that he discovered, nurtured and promoted. Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have. In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs.
At 21st Century Fox we will always be enormously grateful for the great business he built. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elizabeth and son Zachary."

Ailes before Fox: He was a media consultant for Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, and advised other politicians, including Donald Trump on the campaign trail. Prior to his work in political consulting, Ailes worked in local TV.

Aile's Fox News tick-tock:

Ailes was a notorious media mogul who led Fox News for 20 years before he resigned on July 21, 2016 amid allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Ailes wrote to his boss Rupert Murdoch:

"Having spent 20 years inside this historic business, I will not allow my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done every day to ensure that Fox News and Fox Business will continue as the standard setters that they are. I am proud of our accomplishments and look forward to continuing to work with you as a consultant in building 21st Century Fox."

While Ailes denied all of the accusations, the reports from the six women who spoke out against him caused a career-ending controversy. Chief among his accusers were former Fox News hosts Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, who both alleged Ailes made unwanted advances toward them when they worked at Fox.

Read the complete timeline of how Fox responded to Ailes' accusations here.

Between the lines: After his resignation, Ailes was reportedly in talks with over media heavyweights to start a new conservative network that could rival Fox News, which many had believed had swung too far left. (The Murdoch family who owned the network began to reshape the franchise around less divisive personalities.) His and Bill O'Reilly's departure was timed with conservative rival Sinclair Broadcasting Group's acquisition of a slew of local cable channels, including conservative WGN, which could have been used to launch a rival to Fox under Ailes, some speculated.

In May, Fox News paid $45 million in settlements to the women accusing Ailes (and Bill O'Reilly). They also reportedly paid Ailes a $40 million exit payment. The Justice Department launched a probe into Fox News to determine whether or not the network should have notified shareholders about the settlements paid relating to Ailes' assault accusations.

Ailes was eventually replaced by Bill Shine, who resigned amid criticism of the way he handled O'Reilly's allegations.