Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly paid tribute to his mentor, the late Roger Ailes, through an op-ed piece published in USA Today, in which he claimed the controversial network CEO died over the “hatred” he experienced.
“We are living in a rough age, with technological advances changing behavior and perspective. The downside of that is turning us into a nation where hatred is almost celebrated in some quarters,” O’Reilly wrote in the obit, which was later posted to his website. “Roger Ailes experienced that hatred and it killed him. That is the truth. But he would not want to be remembered that way. He did both good and bad in his life and in that, he has something in common with every human being.”
According to a Palm Beach police report (via TIME), a 911 caller stated Ailes suffered a head injury after a fall in his Florida home. He then died on Thursday at the age of 77, his wife announced in a statement.
Ailes is survived by a polarizing legacy, one that includes the creation of the right-leaning Fox News network as chairman and CEO beginning in 1996. He was replaced by Rupert Murdoch in 2016 amid numerous allegations of sexual harassment, including from former Fox News hosts Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly.
“It’s easy to make judgments from afar — but fair people know that seeking the truth is a complicated and demanding process,” O’Reilly continued in the op-ed. “In my opinion, few sought the comprehensive truth about Roger Ailes. Millions of Americans have been affected by Fox News, no doubt about that. In a nation where the national press is generally sympathetic to the left, Fox gives voice to a more traditional point of view that other TV news operations historically ignored. That is a very good thing for our republic, and Roger Ailes is directly responsible.”
Read O’Reilly’s full obit for Ailes at USA Today.