'Without his success at Fox News, Trump could never have won' - US TV channel Fox founder dies

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Associated Press

Roger Ailes, the communications maestro who transformed television news and America's political conversation by creating and ruling Fox News Channel for two decades before being ousted last year for alleged sexual harassment, died aged 77.

The former chief executive ran the company for more than two decades before stepping down last year.
Source: 1 NEWS

Ailes died after a fall at his Palm Beach home on May 10 caused bleeding on the brain.

A former GOP operative to candidates including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and a one-time adviser to President Donald Trump, Ailes displayed a mastery of modern messaging early in his career.

Then he changed the face of 24-hour news when, in 1996, he accepted a challenge from media titan Rupert Murdoch to build a news network from scratch to compete with CNN and other TV outlets they deemed left-leaning.

That October, Ailes flipped the switch on Fox News Channel, which within a few years became the audience leader in cable news.

Ailes branded the network "Fair and Balanced" and declared he had left the political world behind, but conservative viewers found a home and lifted prime-time commentators Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity to the top of the news ratings.

Fox News and 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch called Ailes "a brilliant broadcaster (who) played a huge role in shaping America's media over the last thirty years" in a statement.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recalled Ailes' influence on the nation's politics from the late 1960s to now.

"The history of cable television will have a very big chapter on Roger Ailes. Without his success at Fox News Trump could never have won," Gingrich tweeted.

By mid-2016 Ailes still ruled supreme as he prepared to celebrate Fox News' 20th anniversary.

But in little more than two weeks, both his legacy and job unravelled following allegations by a former anchor that he had forced her out of Fox News after she spurned his sexual advances.

The lawsuit filed on July 6 by Gretchen Carlson quickly triggered accounts from more than 20 women with similar stories of alleged harassment by Ailes either against themselves or someone they knew.

Despite Ailes' staunch denials, 21st Century Fox corporate head Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, determined that Ailes had to go. The announcement was made on July 21.

His dismissal was a head spinning downfall and a breathtaking defeat for Ailes, a man who all his life seemed to be spoiling for a fight and was used to winning them.

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