Roger Ailes, who shaped the images that helped elect three Republican presidents and then became a dominant, often-intimidating force in American conservative politics at the helm of Fox News, which he created with Rupert Murdoch’s money and guided for two decades until he was forced out in a sexual predation scandal, died on Thursday. He was 77.
No cause of death was given in an announcement by Mr. Ailes’s wife, Elizabeth, but he was a hemophiliac long plagued by obesity and arthritis.
While it is undoubtedly bad form to speak ill of the dead, it is worth noting that Ailes's singular contribution to humanity was building the most vile, powerful, and malicious news media company to have ever existed. Not only that, he used the awesome power of the Fox News empire to cover his penchant for sexually harassing female employees and bullying them into submission if they dared stand up to him. Ailes was the embodiment of greed, meanness and bigotry, turning the profession of journalism into a horrendous spectator sport that used minorities and the vulnerable as scapegoats for the sins of the rich. Ailes's true genius though, was tapping into white resentment and ignorance, and morphing it into an awesome political force that culminated in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States.
Ailes nurtured other misogynistic creeps like Bill O'Reilly in the Fox News network and protected them from retribution with the company's considerable wealth. As long as they furthered his agenda and brought in the ratings, it was fine with Ailes. Fox News was built to protect rich white men like him, and he would go to any lengths to destroy anyone threatening it.
"Obama's the one who never worked a day in his life," Ailes once said of the first black president. "He never earned a penny that wasn't public money. How many fund-raisers does he attend every week? How often does he play basketball and golf?"
That was Ailes -- mean, racist and a liar.
It is fitting Ailes died as the world he built begins its inexorable descent into the abyss. He was a key architect of a fantasy world build on lies, greed and nastiness and he leaves it crumbling under the weight of its own hubris.
Out of respect for all of his victims, this is likely the last thing we'll publish on Roger Ailes at the Banter. But it is worth mentioning the best tribute to him thus far, coming from one of Ailes's other protégés, Sean Hannity. He tweeted this incredible statement in the wake of his former boss's death:
To be fair to Sean, he is having a very, very difficult week. But as a self professed Christian and man of God, he should probably know better -- as pointed out to him by Rev. Chuck Currie who fired this back at Hannity: