Roger Ailes had strong roots in native Ohio, friends say

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

"More than anyone, Roger knew how to frame the message and communicate it to the masses", said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Fox News host and Ailes friend.

The family statement called Ailes "a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise-and to give back".

Under the leadership of Ailes, Fox became America's most widely watched cable news channel, home to key conservative political commentators and drawing an audience distinct from rivals CNN and MSNBC, AFP said.

"Apart from the presidents he served, he was arguably the single most important figure in the creation of modern conservatism", David Greenberg, a Rutgers University political scientist, wrote in an essay for Politico previous year.

That all ended in July, when Ailes was forced to resign amidst scandal. He dismissed the allegations, but faced additional claims of misconduct.

He was reported to have received $40 million in an exit agreement with Fox.

Some former colleagues on Thursday praised his contributions and place in history.

A controversial and influential figure in American politics and entertainment, Ailes personally oversaw Fox News programming after the network's launch in 1996.

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Fox News, both under Ailes and after his departure, is notably different than its counterparts in cable news, mainly in the way it regularly admonishes the so-called mainstream media and promotes debunked political theories.

"Many people out there would say he saved this country by starting the Fox News Channel", said Ainsley Earhardt, the co-host of "Fox & Friends".

Shortly after his resignation, he reportedly returned to politics.

"Last year, last year we began to learn of another side of Roger Ailes, another part of his life", Smith said. "Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have", Murdoch said. That execution turned Fox News into Murdoch's most valuable asset, a cash cow valued at more than $15B.

The Justice Department has opened an investigation into whether Fox News failed to inform shareholders about settlements made with employees who accused Ailes of harassment. At least a half-dozen other women, including former Fox News star Megyn Kelly, came forward to accuse Ailes, who denied wrongdoing.

In the decades before he created a ratings juggernaut in Fox News, Ailes worked in politics, serving as a media adviser and consultant - most famously for Richard Nixon, whom Ailes helped to win the presidency in 1968.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

He played a role in Mr Nixon's successful campaign, as well as for other Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Snr.

The Inquirer seemed to agree, writing in 1970 that Ailes ushered in an era of "image men", including Harry Treleaven and Al Scott, two early GOP "image makers", as the Inquirer called them.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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