As Roger Ailes was on his death bed his wife Elizabeth’s last words to him were ‘I forgive you’ and though he couldn’t respond, his eyes filled with tears.
The final moments between the controversial Fox News founder and his wife prior to his death in May 2017 at the age of 77 are featured in a new film on Ailes’ life entitled Man in the Arena.
The film, narrated by Ailes and his friend Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight, glorifies the television executive’s life and follows his career from ditch-digging to TV to political consulting.
The movie praises him as the driving force behind getting Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush elected into the White House.
However, the film takes the defense on the 2016 scandal where he was accused of sexual assault and harassment by 23 women.
In the movie Elizabeth Ailes defends her late husband and acknowledges she knew of an affair.
‘He was sorrowful and sought forgiveness. Those were dark days,’ she said according to Newsweek.
As Roger Ailes was on his death bed his wife Elizabeth’s last words to him were ‘I forgive you’ and though he couldn’t respond, his eyes filled with tears, a new movie on his life Man in the Arena reveals. Ailes became CEO of FOX News in 1996 and and he resigned in 2016
‘Roger. We need you. Please come back to us. Please come back. I forgive you…A big tear rolled down his cheek, so I knew he could hear me,’ Elizabeth Ailes, the widow of Roger Ailes says in the new film. The couple pictured together in April 2012 in New York City
‘I kept my marriage together. I believe in forgiveness. And I think the world has forgotten how to be compassionate,’ she added.
Elizabeth also opened up about the day of her husband’s death on May 18, 2017 where Ailes, who suffered from hemophilia, a medical condition in which the body is impaired by its ability to produce blood clots, fell in the bathroom and hit his head.
Paramedics asked Ailes if he knew who was president and he did not.
‘I started to cry because I realized that was a very bad sign. A man who had elected three presidents wasn’t remembering who was currently president,’ Elizabeth said.
In the moments before he was wheeled into surgery she shared her last words to her husband of 19 years.
‘Roger. We need you. Please come back to us. Please come back. I forgive you,’ she said.
‘A big tear rolled down his cheek, so I knew he could hear me.’
‘People tried to taint him, and I’m on Roger’s side. He told it like it was his entire life and I have no doubt he told the truth at the end when he said he wasn’t a participant in all that,’ Voight said on the sexual misconduct scandal. Voight pictured above on his Twitter
Ailes’ widow Elizabeth acknowledges she knew of an affair in the movie saying: ‘He was sorrowful and sought forgiveness. Those were dark days’. The couple pictured together in January 2009
The movie casts Ailes in a positive light compared to the 2019 film Bombshell and the TV miniseries The Loudest Voice, which focus on his fall from grace at Fox News on the heels of accusations of sexual assault and misconduct.
It follows his journey from an Ohio boy who nearly died at the age of eight when he bit his tongue and doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding due to his hemophilia.
The film plays out Ailes’ path from a ditch-digger to landing his first major job on TV on the The Mike Douglas Show to running Fox News as CEO in 1996.
The modest $200,000-budget movie includes interviews with a slew of Ailes’ political links including President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Bill O’Reilly and family members.
In the trailer Trump says: ‘What Roger Ailes did was create somewhat of a miracle.’
‘Roger really opened up a world that nobody else was able to capture … I’m not sure that I ever would have been standing at this very powerful, important, even sacred spot: the Rose Garden in front of the Oval Office at the White House if it wasn’t for Roger,’ he added.
Voight, an outspoken conservative in Hollywood, met Ailes 15 years ago at a dinner party and the two remained close friends, even through his sexual misconduct scandal.
The movie was produced by Michael Barnes, an attorney, who hasn’t revealed the source of his funding for the film. He said the idea for it came from a conversation with Elizabeth Ailes. Ailes pictured above in 2006
‘I got to know him as a straight-shooter. When I called, he picked up the phone, and I was honored to have that kind of relationship with him,’ Voight said.
‘The media always portrays Roger negatively and it was important for me to show him as the wonderful man he was. The only thing I can say about those other portraits of him is that they’re wrong. It’s very important that people see Roger speak for himself,’ he added.
In the 2016 scandal Ailes was accused of offering raises and opportunities to women who would sleep with him and was accused of firing Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson when she rebuffed his advances.
Megyn Kelly, a former anchor at Fox News, was one of the women who came forward to accuse of him of sexually inapprorpriate comments and conduct. She said Ailes made ‘unwanted sexual advances toward her’ at the start of her career.
He resigned after those claims in 2016 and became an adviser to the Donald Trump campaign where he helped with debate preparation.
‘I had no opportunity to share my side on this…I am not guilty of the charges,’ Ailes said in the trailer for the movie.
‘People tried to taint him, and I’m on Roger’s side. He told it like it was his entire life and I have no doubt he told the truth at the end when he said he wasn’t a participant in all that,’ Voight said on the sexual misconduct scandal.
The movie praises Ailes as the driving force behind getting Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush elected into the White House. Richard Nixon and Roger Ailes pictured in the White House Oval Office
Roger Ailes and President George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office in 1989
The movie was produced by Michael Barnes, an attorney, who hasn’t revealed the source of his funding for the film. He said the idea for it came from a conversation with Elizabeth Ailes.
‘I watched the treatment of Roger in the press and it seemed one-sided,’ Barnes said. ‘Given his stature and accomplishments, it seemed like another side wasn’t being told. That piqued my interest.’
He added the movie was made in secret.
‘We didn’t want to be attacked by Roger’s enemies.’
Man in the Arena was originally set to debut at the White House then open to 50 theaters nationwide, insiders say, but due to the pandemic it’ll debut Friday on Amazon.com.