Ailes, 77, was the CEO and chairman of the network before he was pushed out last year following multiple sexual harassment allegations.
His wife, Elizabeth Ailes, confirmed Thursday morning that he had died. In a statement, she praised him as a loving husband and father, a loyal friend and a patriot.
Fox News host Sean Hannity also spoke of Ailes’ patriotism, sharing his condolences in more than dozen tweets and issuing a warning to Ailes’ “enemies.”
Hannity also called Ailes a “second father.”
“In 1996 he took a huge risk on an inexperienced, young, local radio talk show host in Atlanta,” Hannity wrote on Twitter. “He saw something in me and many others he hired that we never saw in ourselves, and he forever changed the trajectory of thousands of [people’s] lives.”
Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of Fox News and parent company 21st Century Fox, called Ailes a “brilliant broadcaster” who “played a huge role in shaping America’s media over the last thirty years.”
“Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs,” Murdoch said in a statement.
Others called Ailes a “genius” and heralded his achievements at Fox News, which he helped start in 1996 and turned into the top cable news network.
Others in the media shared condolences for Ailes, as well as criticism.
Matt Drudge, founder of influential conservative media site the Drudge Report, broke the news of Ailes’ death on Twitter. Then he shared his respects and recounted recently spending a “magical day” with the newsman.
Rick Folbaum, an anchor for CBS’s local news station in Miami who previously worked for Fox News, reflected on Alies and the sexual harassment scandal that dominated the past year.