Former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes is dead

Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Roger Ailes, the former chairman of Fox News, is dead at age 77.

Ailes' wife, Elizabeth Ailes, announced his death in a statement.

"I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning surrounded by his beautiful family," the statement said. "Roger was my best friend, the most wonderful loving husband and father to our son, Zachary. He was a loyal friend to so many. Roger was a patriot, grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise — and to give back."

The cause of death is unknown.

Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox and Fox News Channel, released a statement that Fox News employees were "shocked and grieved" to learn of Ailes' death.

"A brilliant broadcaster, Roger played a huge role in shaping America’s media over the last 30 years," Murdoch said. "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."

Ailes was born in Warren, Ohio, and studied radio and television production at Ohio University, according to Fox News.

After graduating in 1962, he started working on the The Mike Douglas Show, which gave him "a keen eye for production," according to David Folkenflik, author of Murdoch's World: The Last of the Old Media Empires, about 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News.

Ailes went into politics after meeting President Richard Nixon, who made an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show in 1967, according to Fox News. He went on to advise President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and then–Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988 for their election campaigns, according to Folkenflik.

In 1996, Ailes helped launch Fox News, which dramatically changed the media landscape. However, last summer he left the channel he helped to create after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson accused him of sexual harassment in a lawsuit. Other women at Fox News, including former host Megyn Kelly, have claimed that Ailes sexually harassed them during his tenure at the cable news channel.

Shortly after his resignation, he reportedly returned to politics. Sources told ABC News he was advising Donald Trump during his preparation for the presidential debates, although Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied Ailes' involvement at the time.

"He is not advising Mr. Trump or helping with debate prep. They are longtime friends, but he has no formal or informal role in the campaign," she told ABC News in a statement last August.

Ailes is survived by Elizabeth Ailes and their 17-year-old son, Zachary.

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