Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has died

- Roger Ailes, who built Fox News into a cable powerhouse before leaving the company last year, died at the age of 77.

The Ohio-born television pioneer was a confidante of presidents and an acknowledged master of communications. He founded Fox News in 1996 and built it into the nation's long-running No. 1 cable news network Ailes resigned from Fox in July amid charges of sexual harassment.

His widow, Elizabeth Ailes, confirmed the news in a statement.

"I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning," the statement read. "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."

Ailes left Fox News under a cloud of controversy last August. The sequence of events that led to his departure began when Gretchen Carlson sued him after her contract as a daytime Fox host was not renewed. Ailes strongly denied her allegations of sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

At the time of Ailes' his departure, Executive Chairman of News Corp Rupert Murdoch said, "Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country ... Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.”

Ailes was born in Warren, Ohio, and attended Ohio University in Athens, where he majored in radio and television. After graduating in 1962, he launched his career in black-and-white era television by working for then-local personality Mike Douglas. When the show was syndicated a few years later, Ailes star rose with it.

It was during a 1967 appearance on The Mike Douglas Show that Ailes met future president Richard Nixon, who later tapped him to serve as his executive producer for television.

That experience began a decades-long dual track in which Ailes cast long shadows over both television and politics, culminating in his founding of Fox News.

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