Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes died on Thursday as a result of complications after falling and hitting his head at his home the previous week. But Bill O’Reilly, who worked with Ailes for decades, blames the nation’s “hatred” for his former boss’s death.
O’Reilly, who was recently forced to leave Fox News after a wave of sexual harassment allegations, paid tribute to Roger Ailes on his No Spin podcast on Thursday. The former O’Reilly Factor host told his podcast audience that Ailes was a visionary who drove Fox News to “unprecedented success” and was a “tough guy” who often did kind things for others in private.
“He saved people — routinely, when they got into trouble. The list of names are legion, and if you were straight with him, he had your back.”
Unfortunately, O’Reilly lamented, a lot of people hated Roger Ailes and that hatred “ultimately brought him down.” He also said that Ailes was “never the same” after he was forced to leave Fox News after the accusations that he had “treated some women poorly.”
“He died in a way that was heartbreaking. His departure from Fox News broke his heart.”
The political commentator reiterated his views about the former Fox News boss in an obituary for Ailes published Thursday evening. In it, Bill O’Reilly bemoaned how technology has changed people’s behavior and perspective, and how it has led the nation to become one “where hatred is almost celebrated in some quarters.”
“Roger Ailes experienced that hatred and it killed him. That is the truth.”
According to O’Reilly, whose own fall from grace mirrors that of the Fox News founder, Ailes never quite got over the manner by which he exited the media giant he helped build.
“Roger was convicted of bad behavior in the court of public opinion, and it was painful for many of us to watch. He, himself, was stunned and never really recovered.”
But though Bill O’Reilly is trying hard to paint a saintly portrait of the late Roger Ailes, many have already made up their minds about the founding CEO of Fox News. Not long after his death was confirmed, Twitter erupted with sarcastic takedowns and gloating one-liners.
In a biting piece for Rolling Stone, journalist Matt Taibbi said that Roger Ailes is one of the few people who are “most responsible for modern America’s vicious and bloodthirsty character.”
“We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.”
To illustrate his point, Taibbi pointed at Ailes’ own confession that he had created Fox News for people “from 55 to dead” — capitalizing on the older generation’s fears and concerns — and at Ailes’ role in getting Donald Trump into the White House by, for one, perpetuating Trump’s birther conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama.
“The extent to which we hate and fear each other now — that’s not any one person’s fault. But no one person was more at fault than Roger Ailes. He never had a soul to sell, so he sold ours.”
“He made a difference,” Bill O’Reilly said of Ailes on Thursday.
“And no hater will ever be able to obscure that.”
Roger Ailes was brought in by media mogul Rupert Murdoch to help build Fox News in 1996. Prior to this, he ran CNBC and was a media consultant for the Republican Party. Ailes stepped down from his role as chairman and CEO in July 2016 amid allegations that he had sexually harassed female coworkers. Bill O’Reilly left Fox News for similar reasons in April.
[Featured Image by Evan Agostini and Larry Busacca/Getty Images]