The tech website Gizmodo filed a Freedom of Information Act request shortly after Ailes was found dead in his Florida home last year. The 114-page file (including 34 redacted pages, read it here) was started before his stint working for President Nixon and ranges from 1969-90.
Ailes, one of the most powerful news leaders in the world during his career and a strategy consultant to four presidents, was chairman of Fox News from its launch in 1996 to 2016. He resigned in late 2016 because of sexual harassment allegations made public by anchors Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson.
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The big revelation in the files is that Ailes was arrested for criminal possession of a weapon/bomb silencer on November 10, 1974, in New York. The charge later was downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor, with Ailes pleading guilty two months later. He received no jail time and the circumstances behind the incident were not revealed, though it was revealed in a book that Ailes had a gun in his possession when returning with Robert Kennedy Jr. from a trip to Kenya.
The files described Ailes as a “person of good character and a loyal American.” The file was started because Ailes was up for a staff job in the Nixon White House. The investigations covered routine matters, such as interviews with friends and acquaintances, his addresses and notes on the time Ailes worked for talk show host Mike Douglas.
One tidbit to emerge from the files also shows Ailes being interviewed regarding John Hinckley’s attempted assassination on President Reagan in 1981. Ailes was interviewed because Hinckley had attended a taping of Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, where Ailes was a producer.
The FBI interviewed Ailes four days after the assassination attempt and looked at tapes of the show Hinckley attended, attempting to see if they could spot him in the audience. They also asked whether Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster had appeared on the show (they never did), because both were Hinckley obsessions. The file noted that Tomorrow had no connections to the crime.
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