Host Neil Cavuto paid tribute Thursday to his former boss, Roger Ailes, the founder of both Fox News and FOX Business, who died hours earlier at the age of 77. Ailes' death came ten months after he left the network amid sexual harassment charges.
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“Now is not the time to refresh controversy, so much I don’t know now as I really didn’t know back then. But I do know this for sure right now, whatever else you might think of the messenger, let no one doubt Roger Ailes’s message. He forever changed the way you think of the media and what has become the sameness of the media,” Cavuto said.
Ailes began his television career in Cleveland and Philadelphia in the 1960’s and then became a political consultant for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He returned to television in 1993, as the president of CNBC, which he left after being appointed by Rupert Murdoch as the CEO of Fox News in 1996.
Cavuto said he was among Ailes’ first recruits at the network Ailes built from the ground up.
“Back then it was as if I had entered the witness protection program—I had. I was part of a rag-tag deserve-ably unassuming team of journalists not remotely ready for prime-time or anytime for that matter. Our mission, Roger’s mission, was simple—change the world. And this was our only directive, be fair, be balanced, assume nothing, report everything,” he said.
The Ohio-native turned Fox News into the nation’s longest-running No. 1 cable news network.
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“Roger used to say being a good journalist and a good patriot were not incompatible. Forgetting that they’re linked is unthinkable. You can’t have one without the other. He’d often tell me, he offered viewers both and pretty soon those viewers wanted no other. It was Fox and only Fox. And not just for a few minutes at a time— Fox viewers had us on all day, all the time,” said Cavuto.
Cavuto added: “He really did change the debate as he revolutionized the country. That’s why I lead with his passing today. And the lasting enriching legacy that makes all other news seem like just noise today because if you think about it, the populist who’s raging in the White House today owes his very unlikely trajectory to power that Roger Ailes unleashed more than two decades ago today.”