Former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has died, his family announced today Thursday.Ailes, who reshaped television news over five decades in the TV and entertainment industry, was 77.
HIs death was announced in a statement by his wife, Elizabeth Ailes, according to Fox News.
"I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger ailes, passed away this morning," she said.
She called him "a loving husband" and "patriot."The cause of death was not immediately clear.
While Fox News on Twitter was quick to issue a report of Ailes' death, the Fox News cable channel was slower to broadcast the surprising news.
At 9 a.m., at least a half hour after the news broke on most outlets, Fox anchor Bill Hemmer, looking shaken, reported Ailes death to his audience, ending his brief report by saying, softly, "Wow!"
Ailes resigned July 21 following a storm over a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson. The suit triggered similar claims from other women and an in-house investigation at Fox.
Ailes strongly denied the claims, but stepped down with a multi-million dollar package from Fox.
Gabriel Sherman, who wrote a biography of Ailes entitled The Loudest Voice in the Room, called Ailes' "last chapter" a tragic story, "whatever you think of Roger Ailes."
"It is a "tragic, sad morning," Sherman tells MSNBC.
"After all he built in his career, he for all practical purposes died alone."
His departure from the cable network was announced by 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, in a statement by Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman.
He praised Ailes for his "remarkable contribution" to the company and said he "shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years."
Ailes began his television career in the early 1960s as a producer at The Mike Douglas Show in Cleveland, and went onto serve as media consultant for several Republican presidents, including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
In 1996, Murdoch, seeing a market for a conservative cable news outlet, hired Ailes to create Fox News. And Ailes molded the network to run like a political campaign operation, with primetime shows that were unabashedly conservative and hosts who openly espoused Republican talking points. The network eventually unseated CNN as the highest rated cable news network and became one of the most popular cable networks of all genres, reaching more than 90 million households. .