Fox News founder and former executive Roger Ailes dies at 77

Roger Ailes, Chairman & CEO, FOX News & FOX Business attends the 2012 Ailes Apprentice Class graduation ceremony at FOX Studios on November 15, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Roger Ailes, who built Fox News Channel into a ratings powerhouse over two decades before he was forced out in a sexual harassment scandal, died Thursday.

The death was announced by his family and reported on Fox News. His cause of death is unknown at this time.

Ailes started the network almost from scratch in 1996 and built it into not just a cable news ratings leader but a profound influence on the right wing of American politics.

Ailes was arguably the most powerful man in media when he suddenly lost his job last summer. Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox anchor, sued him for sexual harassment, and other women came forward to support her claims. Ailes resigned July 21.

Fox News posted the information on Twitter Thursday morning.

His widow released the following statement about his death to Fox News.

“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” the statement read. “Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise—and to give back.”

Many celebrities and news personalities are responding to the news of Ailes’ passing: