THR's 35 Most Powerful People in Media
Ailes, who turns 72 in May and has been at parent company News Corp. since 1996 (when he abruptly left his post as head of CNBC), once again will be a key force in this year’s presidential election as Fox News celebrates its 10th year at the top of cable news network ratings.
Ailes’ politics-heavy résumé and bond with News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch are just two of the reasons people in Hollywood love to hate Ailes — along with the success of his conservative appointment-TV mainstays Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and On the Record’s Greta Van Susteren. Except for those rare exceptions when CNN rides a wave of surprise breaking news to the top (for example when Whitney Houston died), Fox News beats CNN and MSNBC with breaking news and regular programming, often on a combined basis. Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne recently estimated Fox News’ fair-market value at $12.4 billion, making it News Corp.’s most valuable business.
Outside of work, Ailes, married and father to a son, is a Civil War buff and huge Cleveland Indians fan and repeatedly has said that he would love to buy the team someday. Despite his 1-percent status, it’s Ailes’ instincts about what stories and topics average Americans are obsessed with that keeps audiences coming back for more.