Roger Ailes is dead, and now begins the conservative media's difficult task of remembering him.
While it is true the former Fox News chairman and CEO built a media empire that extended into politics, helped create lucrative careers for many, and either snapped America in two or "made it great again" (depending on who you're talking to), he was also an alleged sexual predator. That's a part of his legacy that conservatives are struggling to find words for as they attempt to honor the man's life.
Newsweek collected the responses of others in the conservative media which described Ailes as having committed "misdeeds" or as having done "bad things," and while they're not wrong, these euphemisms for the very worst of what Ailes was capable of are grossly superficial and offensively inadequate.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Roger L. Simon, co-founder of conservative site PJ Media, went a step further and added a note of sexism to his eulogy, describing Ailes as "a brilliant TV news executive" but also as "tragic figure" who was ultimately toppled by "the male libido."
Let's get this straight. Ailes is not a tragic hero nor is he a victim of his penis or his pride. He was not a television news media tycoon who just so happened to be sexist and misogynistic; these elements of his life are equally important and inextricably linked. The possibility that he abused his power to prey on women who placed their trust in him is not an afterthought to his career — it was a part of his career.
One can recognize Ailes impact (however you feel about it) on television, politics, and the American social landscape while also recognizing that many women are in pain because he allegedly made the choice to hurt them, to be cruel to them. Ailes was perhaps brilliant, but he was also perhaps a broken human being.
That's how we should remember him.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters