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Roger Ailes: The man behind the pundit news that dominates cable today

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Roger Ailes: The man behind the pundit news that dominates cable today

WATCH  |  The man behind the pundit-style news shows that are pervasive across cable news today has died. Will that change the media landscape?

Roger Ailes, who changed TV news in creating Fox News Channel in 1996, died on Thursday at age 77. He died of bleeding on the brain caused by a fall at his home, according to the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner.

Ailes was a controversial media titan. He was ousted over sexual harassment allegations in 2016 around the time the Fox News empire rang in its twentieth anniversary. 

His TV empire, now plagued with harassment and racial discrimination suits, polarized and shaped today's media landscape.

Media analysts have said he changed the dynamic of news by adding pundits.

"One of the things that distinguished the type of television that Roger Ailes promoted that became more pervasive across other networks is the idea of very strong opinions," Ellen Shearer, director of the Washington program for Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, told Circa. "There was this kind of level of good guys and bad guys that started emerging."

And you see those roles played out across all cable news -- including sports shows.

He mainstreamed ideas and politicians some consider "fringe."


"Roger Ailes saw a missing element in television news, in all news, and he felt very strongly that there were parts of America, points of view in America that were maybe not necessarily reflected in the news," Shearer said.


As NPR's David Folkenflik noted on Twitter, "Ailes identified the dissatisfaction of cultural conservatives with media" and "presented conservatives with the mirror image of what they believed MSM (mainstream media) to be - an arm of politics."

Shearer says the primetime lineup of "shout shows" has led to "the loss of civility." And as much as young people may say they can't stand talking heads, she says they can't seem to look away.

 "Millennials tend to be less combative in their outlooks and more collaborative so, who knows, the audience may force a change," she said.

But, "until people turn away from the talking heads, it will be hard to say let’s stop doing them if the numbers are there."

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