The Loudest Voice, a seven-part mini-series premiering on Showtime on June 30, turns the rise of Fox News into a drama. The network was launched in 1996, making this history that many of us lived through — and remember. The series takes us into the room where Fox News, and the modern media landscape, happened.
Now, the show's key players are household names. Roger Ailes (Russell Crowe) was the mastermind behind the conservative network. Rupert Murdoch (Simon McBurney) is the Australian media mogul who financed the venture. But there are lesser-known figures who play a major part in the show, like Ailes' wife Beth (played by Sienna Miller in heavy prosthetics).
The Loudest Voice is a damning portrait of Ailes, though his actions speak for themselves. When he died in 2017, the media mogul left behind a legacy of sexual misconduct and manipulating the public.
Accounts of Ailes' misconduct with women first emerged in Gabriel Sherman's biography of him, The Loudest Voice in the Room, in 2014. They hit the public consciousness in full force when former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson (Naomi Watts) came forward with stories of her own in July of 2016. Six more women followed with sexual harassment allegations, including anchor Megyn Kelly. On July 21, 2016, Ailes resigned as chairman and CEO of Fox News and moved to Florida with his family (and a $40 million exit package). He died less than a year later.
Through it all, Ailes remained married to his third wife, Elizabeth "Beth" Ailes, nee Tilson. Ailes and Elizabeth met at CNBC, where she worked as a programming executive until 1996. Ailes and Elizabeth got married in 1998 when she was 37 and he was 58. Two years later, their son Zachary was born.
Like Ailes, Elizabeth has a background in journalism. She got a B.S. in Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University and worked at CNBC until 1996. In 2008, the Aileses, then living in Garrison, New York, revived the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam Country News & Recorder Newspapers. Elizabeth served as owner and publisher of the papers. She sold both papers in 2016.
According to an expose in New York Magazine, Elizabeth defended her husband after the allegations unfolded. After Megyn Kelly came forth with the accusations, New York Magazine reports that Elizabeth wanted Fox News' media relations department to resurface racy photos of Kelly, published in GQ Magazine, to "discredit" her. Her request was refused. Elizabeth was reported to say, “This is not about money. This is about his legacy.”
The article also reported that Elizabeth had been considering divorce. However, they remained married until Ailes' death in May 2018.
Elizabeth made sure the The Drudge Report, a conservative website, broke the news of his death — not Fox News. She sent her statement directly to Matt Drudge. "I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. 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. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics and in news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life," Elizabeth wrote.
Elizabeth now has a second life as a pop culture star. She'll be portrayed by Connie Britton in an upcoming movie Fair and Balanced.