Roger Ailes has given up the last piece of his media empire. The disgraced former Fox News chief and his wife Elizabeth have sold the Putnam County News and Recorder, the local newspaper Ailes bought in 2008 in Cold Spring, New York, not far from his 9,000-square-foot weekend compound. The buyer for the paper is the editor Doug Cunningham.
According to a well-placed source, Elizabeth Ailes began trying to sell the money-losing paper not long after her husband was forced out of Fox this summer following Gretchen Carlson’s sexual-harassment lawsuit. In recent months, the source said, Ailes offered to sell the paper to employees for $100,000, but initially there were no takers. Ailes then struck a deal with Cunningham for an undisclosed sum. Cunningham is also taking possession of the Putnam County Courier, another local paper owned by the Ailes. “They just want out,” the source said. An announcement of the sale was posted on the PCNR website shortly after New York called for comment on this story.
“I can’t go into it right now,” Cunningham said. Ailes could not be reached.
The sale represents a stinging defeat for Ailes. Upon buying the sleepy community paper at the start of the Obama era, he used it to inject his right-wing politics into local debates. The PCNR newsroom came to resemble a miniature version of Fox News, complete with closed-circuit cameras and employee surveillance. A rival publisher in Cold Spring even launched a liberal weekly newspaper to counter the News and Recorder, a kind of local MSNBC.
According to the PNCR announcement, the Ailes are also selling the Cold Spring building where the papers are located: “The newspapers will continue to be headquartered in the building for now, but the building is not included in the newspaper transaction,” the statement reads.
Ailes once talked about retiring in Putnam County, but his recent shedding of assets in the area suggests that the plan may have changed. In addition to selling the paper, he’s put several of his houses on the market. This fall, he bought a $36 million mansion in Palm Beach.
Meanwhile, the sexual-harassment lawsuits against him continue to pile up. Today, local Fox 5 reporter Lidia Curanaj filed a 28-page complaint alleging that, when she tried to get a job at Fox News, Ailes had asked to “see [her] from behind” during a one-on-one interview. The suit also alleges that Ailes had asked a New York politician who dated Curanaj whether she “put out.”