Fox News Channel founder, media guru Roger Ailes dies at 77

FILE - In a Sept. 29, 2006 file photo, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes poses at Fox News in New York. Fox News Channel's parent company 21st Century Fox on Monday, July 18, 2016, says there has been no resolution to its probe into the conduct of network chief Roger Ailes, who is accused by a former network anchor of forcing her out because she refused to have sex with him.(AP Photo/Jim Cooper, File)

NEW YORK (WJHL/AP) – Fox News Channel founder Roger Ailes has died at age 77, confirmed Fox News.

Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth, also confirmed the news in the following statement released this morning.

“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. 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. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life…”

A former GOP operative to candidates including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Ailes later turned his media savvy to running TV networks.

In early 1996 he accepted a challenge from media titan Rupert Murdoch to build a news network from scratch to compete with CNN.

That October, Ailes flipped the switch on Fox News Channel. It became the audience leader in cable news. It also emerged as a powerful force on the political scene, while the feisty, hard-charging Ailes swatted off criticism that the network he branded as “Fair and Balanced” had a conservative tilt.

He was abruptly dismissed from Fox News in July 2016 in the wake of a lawsuit filed by former anchor Gretchen Carlson accusing Ailes of sexual improprieties.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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