Several news outlets have reported that Roger Ailes will be or already has been terminated from his position as chairman of the Fox News Channel.
On Tuesday, Matt Drudge reported it as fact and a Fox representative initially confirmed the report to the Daily Beast before retracting the confirmation. Drudge even provided a copy of what he said was the legal separation agreement between Ailes and FNC’s parent company, 21st Century Fox. (Drudge later removed the document and his headline touting it, however.)
The writing clearly is on the wall for Ailes in any case. New York’s Gabe Sherman reported yesterday that 21st Century Fox has definitely decided to terminate its relationship with Ailes in light of sexual harassment allegations leveled against him by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.
Ailes will go down in media history as a television legend for his decades of achievement, of that there is no question.
He deserves credit for turning Fox News Channel into a dominant force in cable but this is largely because his boss Rupert Murdoch was for many decades the sole right-leaning billionaire to see the value and possibility of media investment.
Having cornered the market on conservative cable news viewers, Ailes never really tried to branch beyond that or to step away from the pugnacious and spiteful behavior he regularly exhibited toward competitive colleagues.
Like many Republicans who came of age during the Cold War, Ailes has also been unwilling to modify a political worldview that was really only relevant at that time. Like it or not, his brand of earthy Christian nationalism has very little purchase among young Americans who are increasingly educated, secular, and uninterested in foreign policy adventurism.
Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan are wise to take steps to find new blood for their prized asset. As the Fox viewership continues to die off (its median viewer age is 68 years), replacing Ailes is clearly the right thing to do if there is to be a Fox News Channel at all in five years’ time.