How the Right and Left (and Everyone Else) Reacted to Roger Ailes’s Death
The death of Roger Ailes on Thursday was always fated to be channeled through partisan filters. He was the man most responsible for building Fox News into a powerhouse conservative network, before he was ousted last summer amid accusations of sexual harassment.
Commentary on his legacy was particularly split on social media, where intense criticism of Mr. Ailes began simultaneously with the reports of his death.
Many condemned Mr. Ailes’s and his network, pointing in particular to the manifold accusations against him, which he had always denied. But legions of conservatives celebrated him as an inventive giant who fundamentally transformed television, a medium that he had understood instinctually since childhood.
Much of the celebration of Mr. Ailes’s legacy came from those who hosted shows on his network, or appeared regularly on it. Some tacitly acknowledged the accusations leveled against Mr. Ailes, while others ignored the recent history that robbed him of his longtime post as the head of Fox News.
The Fox News host Sean Hannity, in a statement he read live on air and posted in a series of tweets, chose to go on the offensive. Calling Mr. Ailes one of America’s “great patriotic warriors,” he credited his former boss for making him “the person I am today.”
Figures from other corners of the conservative media world also paid their respects, including Matt Drudge, a longtime friend of Mr. Ailes who was the first to publish the news of his death.
Others were significantly harsher. Many saw Mr. Ailes as having worked to widen the partisan divide, baiting liberals and twisting the news to accord with the values of its founder.
Some commentators attempted to balance their assessments of Mr. Ailes’s legacy to acknowledge his influence.
Others did not.
And many focused their attention on the dozens of women who accused Mr. Ailes of assault.
Gabriel Sherman, a reporter for New York magazine who wrote an unauthorized biography of Mr. Ailes, highlighted the disparate reaction in a pair of tweets.