The mastermind behind Fox News, Ailes is the Rupert Murdoch crony who is chairman and president of Fox News, Fox Business Channel, and Fox Television Stations, the company's network of three dozen owned-and-operated stations.

Considering Ailes is the man who vaulted Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity to fame, it's probably not much of a surprise that his career started with Richard Nixon. Ailes was living in Cleveland and working as a producer on The Mike Douglas Show when Nixon showed up as a guest in 1967. The two bonded on set and Ailes later moved to Washington to join his campaign team, helping him craft his message and image in advance of the 1968 presidential election. Following Nixon's win, Ailes founded Ailes Communications, coaching politicians and businesses on how to use TV to their advantage. Ailes earned his first big victory as a political consultant in 1984, when he helped Ronald Reagan defeat Walter Mondale. Four years later he came through for the GOP once again, helping architect George Bush's win against Michael Dukakis. Ailes hung up his hat as a political consultant in the early '90s. After helping pal Rush Limbaugh land a television show and then serving as the program's executive producer, in 1993 he was tapped by NBC's Bob Wright to head up the company's new business channel, CNBC. Two years later, he defected to News Corp. when Rupert Murdoch recruited him to launch Fox News. He's been aggravating liberals ever since, and has added several other News Corp. properties to his portfolio, including the company's collection of local TV stations and the Fox Business Channel, which launched in 2007.

Ailes has plenty of friends on the right side of the aisle: Not only is Fox News the news source of choice for every Republican politico in Washington, it's also the official in-flight entertainment aboard Air Force I. Ailes' ties to the Republican leadership haven't earned him many friends in liberal media circles, not surprisingly. The Fox News chief has complained that he's been "thanked a lot in Wendy's, Appleby's, and Marriott hotels" but he's "never been thanked in Le Cirque."

The heavyset exec is married to his third wife, Elizabeth Tilson Ailes, who's 20 years his junior. He has a daughter from his first marriage and a son with Elizabeth Tilson. [Image via Getty]