“He could be brutal verbally but if you were straight with him, he would protect you,” the ex-O’Reilly Factor stalwart wrote for USA Today. “If a Fox person had trouble, Roger was the guy to go to. But you had to be honest.” Ailes, who O’Reilly called “a force of nature with an agenda,” died today at 77.
O’Reilly wrote about misconceptions regarding his former longtime boss, who hired him as a Fox News original when the channel launched in 1996. “It’s easy to make judgments from afar, he wrote, “but fair people know that seeking the truth is a complicated and demanding process. In my opinion, few sought the comprehensive truth about Roger Ailes.”
He also addressed the difficulties of being the polarizing figure Ailes was in the era of social media and instant news.
“We are living in a rough age, with technological advances changing behavior and perspective,” O’Reilly wrote. “The downside of that is turning us into a nation where hatred is almost celebrated in some quarters. 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.”
He ended with, simply, “It was a privilege to know him.”