RN and Roger Ailes in the Oval Office.
Roger Ailes, Nixon’s Television Man
As a 28-year-old TV expert, Roger Ailes produced and directed television programs for presidential candidate Richard Nixon, playing a key role RN’s great comeback and victorious presidential campaign in 1968.
During the campaign, Ailes created the innovative and now famous “The Nixon Answer” TV town hall broadcasts, in which candidate Nixon stood in the middle of a live “arena” audience and faced panels of questioners.
“My job is to locate the problems and find solutions,” Ailes said in a 1970 interview with US News and World Report. “No one on the White House staff is a television man, and that’s why I am consulted.”
Following the 1968 campaign, Ailes was brought in as an adviser to the President for communications, working on several historic television broadcasts.
All eyes were glued to TV sets the night of July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. President Nixon made a long distance phone call to the moon from the Oval Office to congratulate the astronauts. Thanks to the genius of Ailes, those at home watched on a split-screen as the President and astronauts spoke to each other.
Ailes was also called in to handle the broadcast of President Nixon’s introduction of the new Chief Justice, Warren Burger as well as several televised speeches on the Vietnam War.
“Roger and I worked on many assignments over the years. He was a very good friend,” said Nixon Foundation Chairman Ron Walker. “Little did I know he would end up changing cable television forever.”
“Roger was a unique talent and major contributor to the national stage for four decades,” said Fred Malek, member of the Nixon Foundation Board of Directors and Chairman of the Nixon Centennial Legacy Campaign. “It was a great pleasure to be honored along side him by our admission to the Horatio Alger Society in 2011.”
“Roger changed the face of politics in America and provided a giant voice for good,” said Larry Higby, member of the Nixon Foundation Board of Directors.
Nearly a decade after Richard Nixon left the White House, Ailes joined his old boss to produce more than 30 hours of videotaped oral histories between RN and his former aide Frank Gannon in 1983 – the most substantial, lengthy and candid interviews the 37th President ever gave.
Years later, Ailes would become a household name by teaming up with Rupert Murdoch to launch Fox News Channel. It didn’t take long for Fox to race up to #1 in cable news, where it has remained for more than 15 years.
His brilliant career at Fox News ended last year when he resigned amidst charges and litigation involving his personal conduct.
Ailes was a supporter and annual President’s Council member of the Richard Nixon Foundation for many years.
“He wasn’t perfect, but Roger Ailes was my friend & I loved him,” tweeted President George H.W. Bush today. “Not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help. RIP.”