Just hours after the death of Roger Ailes was announced, MSNBC analyst Joan Walsh went public with an off-the-record conversation that she once had with the Fox News founder.
Writing for The Nation, Walsh revealed the alleged details of her talk with Ailes:
I only met Ailes once, in about 2000, for an off-the-record meeting where Salon’s editor-in-chief and CEO were pitching a Salon-branded show to Fox. At the last minute they took me with them (with Ailes’s death, our promise to keep the meeting off the record passes, too).
“I created a TV network for people 55 to dead,” Ailes boasted to us. “Nobody believed it could be done, but I did it. It’s for guys who sit on their couch with the remote all day and night.” That seemed a condescending way to talk about his audience—not to mention, much of the Republican base—but it was fascinating anyway.
“And they don’t want to see anyone like you,” he continued, looking directly at me. I wasn’t sure whether he meant a liberal, or a brunette newswoman in a dark pantsuit. “They don’t want to see you — they don’t even want to know that you exist!” And he was obliging them: he’d created a world where women were blonde and wore short tight skirts, men were in charge, and articulate, principled, complicated liberals – especially women — didn’t exist.
Ailes was instrumental in the massive success of Fox News, but allegations about his treatment of women significantly tarnished his legacy.
Ailes was forced out at Fox News amid multiple sexual harassment allegations, leading to a tumultuous period for the right-leaning news network. Bill O'Reilly, who was also accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, followed Ailes out the door a few months later.
Gabriel Sherman, who wrote Ailes's autobiography “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” described the media pioneer's death like this:
“It is a tragic, sad morning. After all he built in his career, he for all practical purposes died alone.”
Ailes is believed to have died from complications after falling and hitting his head, according to the Palm Beach Police Department.