RTDNA and RTDNF mourn the passing of former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who died today at age 77.
Ailes was the 2007 recipient of the RTDNF First Amendment Leadership Award at the Foundation’s annual First Amendment Dinner in Washington, D.C. In his acceptance speech, Ailes was a stalwart advocate for a diversity of thought and ideology in U.S. newsrooms.
“While the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, freedom depends on fairness in the press,” he said.
Ailes, at a time when America was entering the 2008 presidential election cycle, also admonished candidates for political office to be accessible to reporters, the public’s watchdogs.
“If you’re afraid of journalists,” Ailes asked politicians rhetorically, “how will you face the real dangers in the world?”
Click here to watch Ailes’ full acceptance speech
Click here for a full list of past RTDNF First Amendment Award recipients
“There’s no question Roger Ailes was a polarizing figure in the media and in American politics,” said Mike Cavender, Executive Director of RTDNA and RTDNF. “However, it is indisputable that he was responsible for seismic changes in the way people receive news and participate in political discourse.”
RTDNA and RTDNF recently launched its Voice of the First Amendment Task Force, to combat attacks on the First Amendment and help the public understand why responsible broadcast and digital journalism is essential to their daily lives.
“Our Voice of the First Amendment Task Force is committed to defending all of the First Amendment, not just the types of speech and the press with which people agree,” said Dan Shelley, Incoming Executive Director, who is spearheading the Task Force’s efforts. “Regardless of Roger Ailes’ perceived ideology, there is no doubt about his Constitutional right to have advocated for it.”
Ailes’ 20-year career at Fox News ended last year after he resigned following accusations of sexual harassment, which he denied. Those allegations notwithstanding, Ailes death marks the end of a consequential era of news coverage in America.