Speed Reads

obituaries

Bill O'Reilly remembers Roger Ailes as a 'force of nature with an agenda'

Former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly wrote an obituary for his late boss, former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, that was both fawning and defensive.

Ailes, who died Thursday at age 77, was a "force of nature with an agenda," O'Reilly wrote in USA Today, successful in his quest to "infuse America with traditional philosophy and see to it that conservatives like him were heard loud and clear." Ailes gave former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and radio host Rush Limbaugh "blunt advice that led them to success," O'Reilly continued, and it "was that bluntness that made his life difficult, as enemies accumulated — some armed with brutal hatred."

O'Reilly often went back to the theme of Ailes being unfairly treated by people who didn't know him. In his own nearly 20 years at Fox News, O'Reilly said, he had "total independence," and "when stuff hit the fan, as it will when you are doing daily political commentary in a polarized nation, Roger had my back." Ailes left the network last summer following accusations of sexual harassment, and O'Reilly was ousted from Fox News last month following similar allegations; O'Reilly said he believes Ailes was "convicted of bad behavior in the court of public opinion, and it was painful for many of us to watch. He, himself, was stunned and never really recovered."

This country is being turned into a "nation where hatred is almost celebrated in some quarters," O'Reilly added, and Ailes "experienced that hatred, and it killed him. That is the truth." He doesn't want to remember Ailes that way, O'Reilly said, but rather as someone who "did both good and bad in his life and in that, he has has something in common with every human being."