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Former Fox News chief Roger Ailes dead

Controversial former leader of conservative TV news station dies
Fox News chief Roger Ailes Getty Images

Roger Ailes died, it was announced Thursday morning.

The former CEO of Fox News died of undisclosed causes at age 77.

The news was revealed on Drudge Report. His widow, Elizabeth Ailes, posted this statement on Drudge:

"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," the statement read.

Ailes led Fox News for two decades. Starting in 1996, he built the cable news channel as a powerhouse in both television ratings and in shaping the public appearance of conservative and right-wing media.

He left in July 2016 under fire for years of alleged sexual harassment of women at Fox News, including by star anchor Bill O'Reilly, who also left the network.

Within months of leaving Fox News, he was reportedly advising the campaign of Donald Trump in the summer of 2016.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, commentator Chris Matthews compared Ailes to Steve Jobs in terms of influence.

Commentator Andrea Mitchell agreed: “He transformed American politics and American media,” she said, but noted that he allowed an "endemic" culture of "illegality," referring to the network's history of sexual harrasment claims.