Roger Ailes documentary 'Divide and Conquer' bombs on A&E

Roger Ailes documentary 'Divide and Conquer' bombs on A&E

A documentary on the late Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes fared poorly on A&E on Sunday night, delivering just 228,000 total viewers according to Nielsen Media Research.

"Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes" also floundered in the key 25-54 demographic that advertisers covet most, registering just 74,000 in that category. The number is the lowest for any A&E telecast this year on Sunday night at 9 p.m. Overall, the telecast was down 77 percent from the network's normal programming in the time slot.

For context, HBO's Michael Jackson documentary, "Leaving Neverland," was watched by 1.3 million in the same time slot and notched 663,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic even though it was on a pay-TV channel.


The A&E ratings for the Ailes biopic are not surprising, given how it performed in its theatrical release in December, when it grossed less than $40,000 total at the box office.

Ailes in a stunning and swift development resigned from Fox in July 2016 just two weeks after Gretchen Carlson, then a Fox News afternoon host, accused him of sexual misconduct. An internal investigation by an outside law firm quickly followed. Several women, including then-Fox prime-time host Megyn Kelly, then came forward to accuse Ailes of similar behavior.

The former political consultant to three presidents, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, denied the accusations up until his death in May 2017.

Ailes launched Fox News in 1996 and quickly built it into a dominant force on the cable news landscape. The network has topped its competition in CNN and MSNBC every year since 2001.

"Divide and Conquer" is one of three projects focusing on Ailes.

Acclaimed actor John Lithgow will play Ailes alongside along a notable cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron in a still-to-be-named movie by director Jay Roach. It will be released nationwide on Dec. 20.

Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe will also portray Ailes in Showtime's adaptation of Gabriel Sherman's book, "The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — and Divided a Country." The project will run as a limited series, reportedly to air later this year.

— This report was updated at 10:01 a.m.