Fox News is still America’s most-watched but for how long?


As Washington reeled from one of the most tumultuous weeks in recent political history, another event stopped Americans in their tracks.

The death of Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News, marked the passing of one of the most significant figures in American media and politics, and one who profoundly shaped the tone and tenure of political debate in the US.

It was said by many that Donald Trump owed his presidency to Ailes, although it was believed that the two did not talk in recent months. Ultimately Ailes didn’t survive professionally to steer through the early months of the Trump presidency, having, by a quirk of timing, been ousted as chair of Fox News just as Trump was being crowned Republican presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July.

Slogans such as “Fair and balanced” were ridiculed by many, but its new style of combative, partisan journalism worked

Born in Ohio in 1940, Ailes was moulded by a typical blue-collar upbringing of mid-century America. After dabbling in acting in high school, he studied journalism at Ohio State University and immediately took a job in TV in Cleveland. It was there, in 1967, that he met Richard Nixon, who hired him on the spot, sensing the emerging power of TV on the political landscape. After producing Nixon’s campaign programmes, he forged a career as a political consultant, going on to work for Ronald Reagan and later George Bush snr.

In the 1990s he moved into television full time and was recruited by Rupert Murdoch to found Fox News Channel, an offshoot of Fox News. Buoyed by the round-the-clock drama of the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal in the late 1990s, Fox News swiftly emerged as a major force in American journalism.

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