Pretty much every award show features an "In Memoriam" segment — it's a chance to honor the important people in the industry who have passed away in the last year, and it usually elicits some tears or fond memories from those who watch. Now usually, audiences get angry when their dearly departed favorites are left out of the tribute, but in the case of the 2017 Emmys, many are angry that the 2017 Emmys included Roger Ailes in their segment.
The tribute started off nicely enough. Viola Davis introduced Hamilton alum Christopher Jackson to honor those lost in the television industry this year — the list included Jerry Lewis, Mary Tyler Moore, Adam West, Bill Paxton, and Gwen Ifill — and Jackson recited Maya Angelou's "Touched By An Angel" before a sweet rendition of "As" by Stevie Wonder. The lyrics to "As" include, "Do know what I say is true/that I'll be loving you always," so it's a perfect song for the moment. But then former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes showed up (well, his face did), and people were not happy.
It's important to note that the influence that Ailes had on the American political landscape is incredible — Fox News has had the highest ratings in cable news for years, and studies have shown that Republican voter turnout increased in regions as they got access to the channel. That means votes, and that means that Fox News could be possible for boosting Republican numbers over the years.
Ailes ruled over cable television for years, but his reign came crashing down when in 2016, Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News anchor, filed a lawsuit against Ailes alleging that he had sexually harassed her over her tenure at the network. And Carlson wasn’t the only one with complaints — after an internal investigation commenced at Fox News, about 10 women (including then-Fox News mega star Megyn Kelly) came forward and claimed that they had experienced the same continued harassment from Ailes. Ailes and his lawyers denied all of the allegations, but the harm was already done — network founder Rupert Murdoch removed Ailes from his position of Chairman and CEO shortly after (with a reported $40 million payout for his troubles).
Ailes passed away in May 2017 from “complications of a subdural hematoma after he fell at home injuring his head,” according to Variety. “Hemophilia contributed to his death and his manner of death was accidental. There was no evidence of foul play,” the medical examiner’s report noted.
To say that the late Fox News CEO was a controversial figure would be an understatement. After the allegations against him and his position at Fox News, it's no surprise viewers were angry that he was honored along with legends like Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
The Reaction Gifs Were Plentiful
Because sometimes, you just have no words.
Others Have Been Snubbed, So Why Not Ailes?
Many felt that Ailes' name shouldn't have been with the other legends on the stage.
Some Noticed His Name Got Few, If Any, Claps
The room was noticeably silent to these viewers.
Some Said It's Just More Of The Same
Another day in America for some folks.
Ailes was a man who inspired strong feelings, and it didn't seem fair to many viewers that he got a spot in the Emmys In Memoriam segment when people like African American civil rights activist and actor Dick Gregory, famed character actor Harry Dean Stanton, and veteran comedian Charlie Murphy didn't get recognized. Ailes was a notable figure in the world of television and cable news, but given the way he alleged treated women, the Emmys could have done better just to leave him out all together. Bustle has reached out to the Emmys for comment on the backlash, but has not yet received a response.