Roger Ailes, former CEO of Fox News, has died at the age of 77.
Ailes in many ways helped pave the way for Donald Trump. After all, he built Fox News, a network that stoked conservative anger for years and provided Donald Trump with many of his eventual campaign talking points. Ailes also helped Trump become president in a very literal way, as he was an adviser during the campaign.
Here’s what you need to know about the relationship between Donald Trump and Roger Ailes.
1. Ailes Helped Trump With Debate Prep
Heading into the 2016 general election, Roger Ailes helped Donald Trump as he prepared to go up against Hillary Clinton.
This was first reported by The New York Times in August 2016. The Times reported that Ailes was helping Trump with debate prep, but there was also talk that he could have a role even past these three debates.
“Two of [the people briefed on the decision to bring on Ailes] said Mr. Ailes’s role could extend beyond the debates, which Mr. Trump’s advisers see as crucial to vaulting him back into strong contention for the presidency after self-inflicted wounds that have eroded his standing in public opinion polls,” The New York Times reported.
At the time, Donald Trump insisted that this was an informal thing.
“I’ll speak with Roger, but this is not a formal thing,” Trump told The New York Times. “I don’t have a debate coach. I’ve never had a debate coach.”
2. After Ailes Resigned Due to Sexual Harassment Allegations, Trump Said He Is a Good Person
Many were surprised to see Roger Ailes advising the Donald Trump campaign in August 2016, considering Roger Ailes had very recently left his position at Fox News due to sexual harassment allegations.
But Trump had previously defended Ailes amid these allegations. In an interview on Meet the Press conducted three days after Ailes’ resignation, Trump said that Ailes is a great guy.
“[H]e’s been a friend of mine for a long time…he’s a very good person,” Trump told NBC. “I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person. And by the way, a very, very talented person. Look what he’s done. So I feel very badly. But a lot of people are thinking he’s going to run my campaign.”
Trump also in this interview suggested that the numerous women accusing Roger Ailes of sexual harassment are lying.
“…I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them,” Trump said. “And even recently, and when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him. It’s very sad.”
3. Ailes Reportedly Tried to Pressure His Journalists to be Nice Towards Trump
While Roger Ailes was CEO of Fox News, he reportedly did his best to ensure that his journalists were treating Trump well.
In her book Settle for More, Megyn Kelly says that every time Trump would attack her on Twitter, she would get a call from Roger Ailes asking her if she was being fair to the candidate.
“Every time he started in, I’d get a call from Roger (who was getting calls from Trump),” Kelly writes. “Was I being fair to Trump? Was I being too hard on him? He felt the bar for skeptical Trump coverage should be higher.”
Donald Trump admitted to this on Twitter, saying in August 2015 that he received a call from Roger Ailes ensuing him that he would be treated fairly on Fox.
Trump also retweeted a comment in October 2015 saying that Megyn Kelly was being nicer towards him after Roger Ailes told her to.
4. Trump Recently Said That Rubert Murdoch Treats Him Better Than Ailes
When Roger Ailes resigned as CEO of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch took over the position.
Donald Trump recently said that Murdoch treats him better than Roger Ailes did, implying that Fox’s coverage of him has gotten more favorable than it was during the presidential election.
While conducting an interview in April 2017, Trump was heard on a hot mic saying, “Rupert’s been a lot better to me than Roger ever was,” according to New York Magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman.
It’s true that Fox News’ coverage of Donald Trump has become much more favorable, especially after the departure of Trump critic Megyn Kelly. Tucker Carlson, a vocal Trump supporter, was given the 9:00 p.m. news hour, where Megyn Kelly used to be, and when Bill O’Reilly left the network due to sexual harassment allegations, Carlson was handed that coveted spot.
5. They Reportedly Stopped Speaking in October 2016
Although Roger Ailes advised Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, this relationship evidently did not last too long.
In October 2016, it was reported in Vanity Fair that Ailes was no longer serving as a Trump adviser and that Ailes and Trump in fact no longer spoke at all.
“Ailes’s camp said Ailes learned that Trump couldn’t focus—surprise, surprise—and that advising him was a waste of time,” New York Magazine Reporter Gabriel Sherman told Vanity Fair. “These debate prep sessions weren’t going anywhere.”
Sherman added that during the debate prep, Ailes would frequently get off on tangents, which annoyed the Trump team.
“Even for the second debate, Ailes kept going off on tangents and talking about his war stories while he was supposed to be prepping Trump,” Sherman reported.
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