Roger Ailes, who built Fox News into a cable powerhouse before leaving the company last year, died Thursday morning at the age of 77.

The Ohio-born television pioneer was a confidante of presidents and an acknowledged master of communications. He founded Fox News in 1996 and built it into the nation’s long-running No. 1 cable news network. Ailes resigned from Fox in July amid charges of sexual harassment.

His widow, Elizabeth Ailes, confirmed the news in a statement.

“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning,” the statement read. “Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise—and to give back.”

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