Roger Ailes buys N.Y. paper, makes wife publisher

By Carol Eisenberg

July 14, 2008 at 12:48pm

Some men buy their wives flowers; others, chocolates. Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, bought his third wife, Elizabeth, a newspaper.

Ailes purchased The Putnam County News and Recorder last month. The 142-year-old newspaper, with a circulation of about 3,000, is based in Cold Spring, N.Y., about 60 miles north of New York City.

Ailes’ wife, Elizabeth Tilton Ailes, whom he married on Valentines Day in 1998, is the paper’s new publisher, according to a story that appeared in the community paper last Wednesday.

Tilton, a former NBC executive who is 20 years her husband’s junior, wrote in her high school yearbook that she dreamed of becoming her generation’s Barbara Walters.

Instead, her television career was mostly behind the scenes. After working at NBC as a typist, researcher and producer, she became the network’s youngest vice president in the mid-1990s. She was in charge of the short-lived news- and talk-oriented cable channel, “America’s Talking” - the brainchild of then-CNBC President Ailes.

Since having a son, Zachary, in 2000, Elizabeth Ailes has been a homemaker. But with her son now in grade school and work on the Ailses’ new home in Cold Spring complete, she was ready for new challenges.

Whether the ownership change might bring a political tilt to the local paper is unclear. Roger Ailes, 68, was a consultant to Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush before becoming chairman of Fox News.

Elizabeth Ailes insisted to the New York Times that the paper will “probably stay the same. We bought it not to change it, but perhaps it will evolve over time.”

She waxed nostalgic about her own apprenticeship in journalism, saying that being in the News and Recorder newsroom was “sort of a throwback” to her days on the college newspaper at Southern Connecticut State University, before she went to work for television. “It’s a really quaint paper,” she said. “It reflects the community. We really like it, and that’s why Roger wanted to buy it.”

The Aileses will not manage the paper day to day; for now, the seller, Brian O’Donnell, who has been the publisher for 12 years, will stay on as a senior consultant.

The price of the paper was not disclosed. But according to a News Corporation filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Roger Ailes earned nearly $11 million last year.

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  • #1.   TACOM 02.24.2009

    What scintillating news! A rich propagandist puke has bought himself a newspaper, the better to spew his crap. Given Ailes background and history, who in hell believes that he bought this paper because it was a quaint paper? The United States of Amerika is the playground of millionaires; the rest of us are merely onlookers. Enjoy the view!

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