Showtime's The Loudest Voice is about the many sides of Roger Ailes. He's the titan behind Fox News' sway toward the right. He's the lascivious man in power, luring women to his chambers and then closing the door. And when it suits him, he's a husband and father. Last night's episode, "2008," gave a perspective into Ailes' home life and the conservative values he hoped to instill in his son and only child, Zachary (Eason Rytter).
Zac was just 17 years old at the time of his father's passing in 2017. By then, he'd witnessed his father's professional downfall. A year prior, Ailes had been ousted from his position of President and CEO of Fox News following a slew of sexual misconduct allegations. Ailes died of a subdural hematoma at the age of 77 in their new six-bedroom mansion in Palm Beach, FL, which they bought after leaving New York.
"I want all the people who betrayed my father to know that I’m coming after them and hell is coming with me,” the 17-year-old Zac said, according to Variety.
Clearly, Zac only knew one side of his father — the guy who left work to attend basketball games and coach from the stands. "Zac was the only person who could lure Ailes away from the office on a Wednesday afternoon," Ailes' biographer, Zev Chafets, wrote in Roger Ailes: Off Camera, excerpted in Vanity Fair.
Ailes was aware that he wouldn't see Zac, his only child, grow old. Zac was born in 2000, when Ailes was 60 years old. “Because of my hemophilia, I’ve been prepared to face death all of my life. I’m at peace. When it comes, I’ll be fine, calm. I’ll miss life, though. Especially my family,” Ailes told his biographer, Chafets.
So, beginning when Zac was four, Ailes began stowing away sentimental items like mementos, notes, and photos in memory boxes. In Roger Ailes: Off Camera, Chafets describes the contents of one such box, meant to be opened after Ailes' death. Highlights include a pocket-sized U.S. Constitution in which Ailes had written, "The founders believed it and so should you;" a sappy anniversary card to Ailes' wife, Beth; and a few symbolic gold coins in case Zac needs to escape the States. Ailes told Chafets, "If you have a little gold and a handgun, you can always get across the Canadian border.”
Finally, at the bottom of the box was a copy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War with the advice Ailes would want to give the adult version of Zac: "Avoid war if at all possible but never give up your freedom — or your honor. Always stand for what is right. If absolutely forced to fight, then fight with courage and win. Don’t try to win...win! Love, Dad"
Ailes also tried to introduce his son to his past — that trip to Ohio depicted in episode "2008" of The Loudest Voice really did happen. Ailes took Zac to visit his childhood home in Warren, OH. According to the biography Roger Ailes: Off Camera, Zac was shocked by the disparity between their upbringings. While standing in the living room, Zac remarked, "This is smaller than our car." For context, Zac grew up on a compound containing two mansions in Garrison, NY.
Today, Zac is 19 years old. He'll get the on-screen treatment once again in the upcoming (still untitled) Jay Roach film about Roger Ailes.