New York – Championed by conservatives as a visionary, reviled by liberals as a menace, Fox News founder Roger Ailes re-shaped US television news and helped to craft a conservative populism that ultimately gave rise to Donald Trump.
The titles of just two Ailes biographies, “The Loudest Voice in the Room” and “Dark Genius” hint to the outsized and controversial nature of his legacy after a five-decade career in television and politics.
When Fox News was created in 1996, Australian-born tycoon Rupert Murdoch provided the money and Ailes the vision. A broadcast entrepreneur, it was Ailes who understood perfectly how to blend entertainment with conservative politics.
“Either this man is crazy or he has the biggest set of balls I’ve ever seen,” Murdoch is widely quoted as having said of first meeting Ailes.
With the slogan “fair and balanced,” Fox presented itself as a potent counterweight to perceived liberal bias of mainstream US media, and quickly rode the wave of anger over Bill Clinton’s affair with a White House intern.