Roger Ailes, the conservative mastermind behind the Fox News empire, will remain in charge after signing a new four-year contract. Political media analyst Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast broke the news on Twitter, and News Corp confirmed it with a release this afternoon.
Ailes, 72, has run Fox News since it was founded in 1996. Under his watch, the station became the home of conservative pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and Fox News has dominated its competition at CNN and MSNBC in the ratings. During his long career, he has always hovered at the nexus of television and politics, beginning in 1968, when he helped presidential candidate Richard Nixon remake his image. Later, he helped sculpt and massage the political messages of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He eventually left the professional political consulting business and helped launch CNBC in 1993.
In recent months, Ailes had hinted that he might retire (and perhaps purchase his beloved Cleveland Indians.) According to multiple reports, Ailes earned approximately $21 million last year from News Corp, Fox News’ parent. His new deal will most likely pay him more, as Fox News and its affiliated stations are as strong as ever (while some of News Corp’s other divisions are tangled in scandal.) He’ll continue to call the shots through the next presidential election cycle in 2016, which also will be Fox News’ 20th anniversary.