By Veronika Bondarenko

Fox News

The former CEO and chairman of Fox News passed away unexpectedly on Thursday.

He led a long and controversial career in conservative politics and media, and built the most-watched cable news network in America.

Here’s how it all happened.

Roger Ailes died on May 18 at the age of 77. He spent more than two decades at the helm of Fox News before leaving in the midst of controversy.

Source: Business Insider

Ailes was born in the small factory town of Warren, Ohio, in 1940. Growing up, he had an abusive father and suffered from hemophilia.

Source: The New Yorker

After high school, Ailes enrolled at Ohio University, where he studied journalism and worked at his college radio station.

Source: The New Yorker

After college, Ailes worked various jobs for TV studios in Cleveland. He eventually rose to be the executive producer of the popular Mike Douglas Show.

Source: Britannica

When Richard Nixon appeared as a guest on The Mike Douglas Show in 1967, he and Ailes got into a heated discussion about politics. Nixon then invited Ailes to be a media adviser for his presidential campaign.

Source: Britannica

Over the years, Ailes has advised numerous Republican presidents on how to navigate questions from journalists. After Nixon, Ailes gave media tips to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

Source: Politico

Throughout his career as a political adviser, Ailes would try to fight what he saw as extreme liberal bias in the mainstream media. He wanted Republican candidates to counterbalance the news with conservative interpretations.

Source: Politico

In 1988, Ailes crafted an attack ad that is credited with turning the presidential election in George H.W. Bush’s favor. The ad shows men walking in and out of of a revolving prison door as a narrator accuses Bush’s Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, of being soft on crime.

After failing to get Republican candidate Richard Thornburgh elected to the Senate in 1991, Ailes went back to cable news. In 1993, he was tapped to lead CNBC.

Source: CNBC

By then, Ailes was widely known as a far-right media powerhouse. In 1996, media mogul Rupert Mudorch asked Ailes to become the founding CEO of the new conservative network Fox News.

Source: CNBC

In January 2002, just over five years after its start, Fox News’ ratings surpassed those of its rival, CNN. In 2016, it became the most-watched network in all of cable, including entertainment and sports channels.

Source: The New York Times and The Hill

In 1998, Ailes married his third wife, CNBC program director Elizabeth Tilson, and in 2000, became a father for the first time at almost 60 years old. Ailes was married to Marjorie White for 17 years and to Norma Ferrer for 14 years.

Under the slogan “fair and balanced,” Fox News developed straight news reporting, albeit often told with a conservative slant, and featuring right-wing evening show hosts, including Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Many credit the network with popularizing conservative political ideology and fueling the rise of President Donald Trump. In his New York Times obituary of Ailes, journalist Clyde Haberman called Hannity’s show “effectively a public-relations vehicle” for Trump.

Source: The New York Times

Over the past two decades, Fox grew to dominate political news coverage. It provided critical coverage of President Bill Clinton’s sex scandals, promotion of the Iraq war under President George Bush, and a platform for critics of President Barack Obama.

On July 6, 2016, Gretchen Carlson, a prominent former Fox News anchor, sued Ailes for sexual harassment, claiming that her contract at Fox was not renewed in part because she refused Ailes’s sexual advances. Carlson also alleged that her Fox co-host, Steve Doocy, treated her “in a sexist and condescending way.”

Source: The Associated Press

Ailes rejected Carlson’s allegations, claiming they were “wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.” Ailes also argued that Carlson’s lawsuit was “conveniently” filed after she was let go from Fox, implying the suit was retaliation.

Source: The Associated Press

Following Carlson’s suit, more than 20 women came forward, most anonymously, alleging Ailes also sexually harassed them. The most prominent among these women was Megyn Kelly, Fox News’s most popular anchor, who told investigators that Ailes made sexual advances towards her, according to sources who spoke with New York Magazine.

Source: Business Insider and New York Magazine

On July 11, 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, announced it had hired corporate law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct an investigation into the allegations against Ailes.

Source: Business Insider

On July 21, Rupert Murdoch announced that Ailes was out at Fox News. Ailes left with a $40 million severance package from Fox. Murdoch praised Ailes in a statement, calling his contribution to Fox “remarkable.”

Source: Business Insider

In September 2016, 21st Century Fox reached a $20 million settlement with Gretchen Carlson as well as a “handful” of other settlements with women who accused Ailes of sexual harassment.

Source: Business Insider and CNN

In August 2016, The New York Times reported that Ailes was advising Donald Trump on the presidential debates. Trump said the advising was “not a formal thing.” In October 2016, Vanity Fair reported that Trump and Ailes were no longer speaking.

Source: The New York Times and Vanity Fair

On May 18, Roger Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth Ailes, announced her husband died that morning. “I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” she wrote in a statement. “Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many.”

Source: New York Daily News

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Source:: Business By Insider