Roger Ailes was defiant on his way out the door at Fox News 10 months ago, insisting that multiple sexual harassment allegations against him were “baseless,” even as the network indicated otherwise. Shortly after Ailes's ouster, Fox News's parent company agreed to a $20 million settlement with lead accuser Gretchen Carlson and admitted that she “was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”
So, it seems like no coincidence that when Ailes died Thursday morning, his widow snubbed Fox News and gave the scoop to the Drudge Report.
We may never know for certain whether Ailes instructed his wife, Elizabeth, to break the news this way. But we're talking about a man whose career as a political operative and television executive was all about delivering a message in the most effective way possible. Tipping off Drudge first feels like a deliberate flip of the bird to his old network.
Consider that one descriptor of Ailes pops up again and again: loyal.
Elizabeth Ailes described him as “a loyal friend to many” in her statement on his death. According to a 2011 profile of Ailes in Rolling Stone, “friends describe him as loyal, generous and ‘slap your mama funny.’ ” Megyn Kelly has said that after Ailes sexually harassed her early in her career, he stopped and later became a loyal boss.
On MSNBC Thursday, Joe Scarborough said that “Roger Ailes was fiercely loyal and would fight for you even if you didn’t work for his company.”
To a man who values loyalty so highly, being pushed out of Fox News — even with a $40 million golden parachute — must have felt like a betrayal.
“I only understand friendship or scorched earth,” Ailes once said.
Even in death, it looks like Ailes has left one last patch of scorched earth.