The death of Fox News founder and former CEO Roger Ailes last week sent shock waves through political and media circles across the country. Fox & Friends anchors reacted tearfully when they broke the story live on air, while many of Ailes’ former colleagues — including Shepard Smith — and critics offered heartfelt, if not peaceable comments on the cable news giant’s passing. And deservedly so, as Ailes’ contribution to the contemporary climate in America is undeniable, especially now that Donald Trump is president.
Yet it didn’t take the tide of grief long to churn out something much darker, especially when Ailes’ 17-year-old son, Zachary eulogized his father at a private memorial service in Palm Beach, Florida on Saturday. The young Ailes promised to defend his father’s name against numerous allegations of sexual assault by former and current female employees at Fox News. (Ailes, who was forced to resign as CEO last summer, maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal.) According to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham’s website LifeZette, Zachary issued a warning, too.
“I want all the people who betrayed my father to know that I’m coming after them, and hell is coming with me,” he said of his father’s accusers during a speech at the service. When the outlet caught up with him elsewhere at the ceremony, Zachary noted he “loved” his father. “He considered how much certain people hated him as a measure of success.”
His comments Saturday echoed those made by former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly, who eulogized his ex-boss for USA Today late Thursday. The once dominant O’Reilly Factor host, who was also forced to leave the cable news juggernaut due to various sexual assault allegations (and their pricey payouts), argued Ailes was “killed” by a “hatred [that] is almost celebrated in some quarters” of the country. “Roger was convicted of bad behavior in the court of public opinion, and it was painful for many of us to watch,” O’Reilly continued. “He, himself, was stunned and never really recovered.”