Roger Ailes gets Emmys' "In Memoriam" honor; Dick Gregory snubbed

The awards show memorialized the disgraced Fox News head, overlooking more beloved industry figures

By Gabriel Bell

Published September 18, 2017 12:15PM (EDT)

Roger Ailes   (Getty/Wesley Mann)
Roger Ailes (Getty/Wesley Mann)

Last night during the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards held in Los Angeles, industry luminaries and viewers at home watching CBS would have noticed that the ceremony's traditional "In Memoriam" segment featured former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes among the honored.

Typically, the "In Memoriam" segment offers short clips of figures of note, both in front of and behind the camera, who have passed away during the course of the year. Last night's edition, for instance, featured Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Mary Tyler Moore and others.

Ailes many achievements include co-founding and running the conservative Fox News network for almost two decades, but his many innovations in the field of cable news are perhaps overshadowed now by the tide of sexual harassment allegations leveled against him over recent years.

Those accusations — upwards of 20 in total — along with a history of retaining and crafting legal settlements for on-air talents also under scrutiny due to sexual-harassment allegations, precipitated his forced resignation from the network in July of 2016. Reportedly, he continued in a limited outside advisory capacity with the network until his death in May of this year.

Combined with his fiery, often vicious personality and his controversial and sometimes arguably racist political views and statements, the negative impact his work had on our political climate and the news media and his creation of what many see as a toxic "boys club" at Fox News, seemed to have permanently damaged Ailes' already questionable legacy beyond repair in the eyes of many.

And, yet, Ailes remained enough in the good graces of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences that last night he appeared alongside those whose memories were not similarly compromised. It was an unwelcome inclusion for some:

The relative silence of the audience in the Microsoft Theater during Ailes' appearance in the segment did not go without notice:

Some noted that other deserving figures who'd passed away during the last year did not receive moments in the "In Memoriam" segment, including actors Frank Vincent, Harry Dean Stanton, Charlie Murphy and Erin Moran. Of particular note, the highly influential comedian and social justice activist Dick Gregory was also passed over by the Academy.

While almost no awards show escapes criticism for passing over a celebrity here or a celebrity there during such segments, the inclusion of Ailes and the exclusion of Gregory seemed particularly notable and telling in a broadcast that otherwise seemed to skewer the policies of the right in general and the presidency of Donald Trump in particular (the normalization of former White House press secretary Sean Spicer notwithstanding).  

Gabriel Bell

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2017 Emmys Dick Gregory Emmy Awards Emmys Entertainment Fox News Roger Ailes Sean Spicer Television Tv