The disgraced former Fox News host has published a fond remembrance of his disgraced former boss, calling the network’s founder, who died Thursday at 77, a “force of nature,” “a man on a mission,” and “an unforgettable person”—all objectively true statements, though not always in flattering ways. But O’Reilly, who like Ailes left Fox over allegations of serial sexual harassment in the workplace, cast one of the most powerful players in modern American politics as the victim of his haters:
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.
O’Reilly described Ailes’s quest “to infuse America with traditional philosophy” and called him “genuine, charismatic, profane, generous and sincere in his beliefs.” He claimed the vast majority of Fox employees lamented Ailes’s departure: “If a Fox person had trouble, Roger was the guy to go to.”
This is a brazen whitewashing of Ailes, who pioneered racist, fear-mongering campaign messaging, created the TV network almost singularly responsible for perpetuating the most pernicious elements of conservative politics, and created a toxic workplace for women at Fox. His New York Times obituary describes “a cascade of allegations from women, who reported unwanted groping and demands for sex by him. Some of them described an overall culture of misogyny at Fox News.” Ailes didn’t solve trouble for his female employees; he created it.
O’Reilly’s remembrance is a fitting coda to the Ailes saga: his most famous TV personality, who has long practiced the politics of grievance for powerful white men, griping in defense of the one to whom he owes everything.