Even in death, Roger Ailes divides the right and left

After a lifetime of toiling behind the scenes of political campaigns and news organizations, Roger Ailes’ death has served as one last opportunity to divide opinions on the left and right.

The cofounder of Fox News resigned from the network in July, his legacy marred by accusations of serial sexual harassment by multiple women at the company.

The dark cloud that Ailes resigned under did little to stem the outpouring of grief from his former Fox News colleagues Thursday morning.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of 21st Century Fox and cofounder of Fox News, the man who handpicked Ailes to create the network, released the following statement:

"Everybody at Fox News is shocked and grieved by the death of Roger Ailes.

A brilliant broadcaster, Roger played a huge role in shaping America’s media over the last thirty years. He will be remembered by the many people on both sides of the camera that he discovered, nurtured and promoted.

“Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have. In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs.

“At 21st Century Fox we will always be enormously grateful for the great business he built. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elizabeth and son Zachary."

Other Fox News employees took to Twitter to share their condolences.

But few poured their heart out quite like Fox News stalwart Sean Hannity, whose remembrances of his former boss spanned more than 16 tweets and have been transcribed here for clarity.

“Today America lost one of its great patriotic warriors, Roger Ailes. For decades [Roger Ailes has] impacted American politics and media. He has dramatically and forever changed the political and the media landscape singlehandedly for the better. Neither will ever be the same again as he was a true American original.

“Few people in this life will ever reach the profound level of impact that Roger Ailes had on the country every single day. As his opponents played checkers in life, Roger was always the strategist, playing chess 5 steps ahead at a whole other level.

“On a personal note, were it not for Roger Ailes, I would not be the person I am today. In 1996 he took a huge risk on an inexperienced, young, local radio talk show host in Atlanta. To this day I have no earthly idea why I was hired and not fired early on, as I had little television experience when I was hired by FNC, as old tapes humbly remind me.

“He saw something in me and many others he hired that we never saw in ourselves, and forever changed the trajectory of thousands of people’s lives. In many ways he was like a second father after I lost my father 6 months after I started at FNC in 3/97. I am forever grateful.

“His endless enthusiasm, energy, wit, humor and raw instinctive intelligence will be greatly missed.

“Our thoughts and prayers now turn to him, his Wife Beth, his son Zachary, his brother and his family. He will be deeply missed.

“It would be nice if the media would leave Roger and his family alone in their time of grief, but knowing people that hated him and his politics, and those that forget ‘all have sinned and fallen short’ and ‘cast the first stone,’ I doubt that will happen.

“But to his enemies know this; I say ADVANTAGE ROGER, In his mind he just has a head start in preparing to kick your ass in the next life.

“God speed Roger Ailes!”

Many within the conservative community voiced their sorrow at the media icon’s passing. Even former President George H.W. Bush remembered Ailes’ influence. “He wasn't perfect, but Roger Ailes was my friend & I loved him,” Bush tweeted. “Not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help.”

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Few of the reactions on the right acknowledged the accusations levied against Ailes that led to his resignation at Fox News, and those that did chose to minimize them in a “nobody’s perfect” fashion.

Reactions to Ailes’ death on the left were not so forgiving.

With the final tweets of a nine-tweet thread, MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid may have summed up the left’s point of view most succinctly.

libby.hill@latimes.com

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