Loyalists Celebrate at Roger Ailes Funeral in an “Act of Defiance”


11:43 AM PDT 5/22/2017

Catrina Genovese/Getty Images

On the day Ailes died, Rupert Murdoch had been advised that a condolence call to Ailes’ wife would not be well received.

One question traveling quickly through Fox News on May 19 was about who had been invited to the funeral of the network’s ousted founder Roger Ailes the next day in Palm Beach. Another was who would risk management disapproval by attending. Ailes’ wife Beth, fiercely protective of him and, in the hours since his death on May 18 at age 77, already a determined keeper of the flame, meant to exclude anyone who wasn’t a true friend, and to test anyone who said they were.

If the liberal media saw Ailes as a disgraced and broken man — quite taking credit for his professional if not actual demise through its coverage since July of the sexual harassment allegations against him — his funeral was meant to be an act of defiance. Without apology, it was a celebration of husband, father, friend, employer, political figure, media titan, TV impresario and, hardly least of all, man of many provocations.

It was, too, an unyielding front against his enemies, whose names hung in the air with scorn and imprecations: Gretchen Carlson, the anchor he’d fired, who filed the initial claim against him for sexual harassment; Megyn Kelly, the woman whose career he had built and who, many of their colleagues believed, had sold him out for her own career advancement; Gabriel Sherman, the reporter fixated on him, who became the prime conduit of leaks from Fox News’ parent 21st Century Fox.

Most of all the villains were the Murdochs: Rupert Murdoch, who had hired Ailes in 1996, and his sons, James and Lachlan, who had assumed executive authority two years ago. Ailes had given the Murdoch family 20 years and built them a $30 billion company, and, in the opinion of family, friends and his confidants at Fox, had been sacrificed by them when it suited their purposes.

On the day Ailes died, Rupert Murdoch had been advised that a condolence call to Ailes’ wife would not be well received.

Ailes’ final days had begun on May 10 with a fall. In their new beach-front modernist house in Palm Beach, which the couple had bought in the fall and moved into in January, he had been largely wheelchair bound with a range of muscle and hip problems and closely tended to by his wife. It was a point of acute bitterness for Ailes’ family that Sherman, ever trying to pursue his moves, had recently suggested that the nearly inseparable husband and wife had been apart, implying this might be the reason for his fall — and, in fact, that he might have committed suicide. (Sherman has long speculated that the Ailes marriage was floundering or finished because of the harassment allegations.)

The fall caused a blood clot in his brain, and then, during efforts to remove it, another was found. Put into a medically induced coma, Ailes was attended to by his wife and by his friend Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host, quite as pivotal a figure in modern conservative politics as Ailes himself, and whose show Ailes had produced in the 1990s before he founded Fox News. “Rush at Roger’s bedside,” reflected a friend at the funeral, summing up the brotherhood of the conservative moment and its two media titans.

Ailes rallied briefly early in the week and then died in the morning of the 18th.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here