NEW YORK, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The man who helped launch the Fox News Channel 20 years ago will now help Donald Trump prepare for the presidential TV debates, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Citing anonymous sources, the Times reported Roger Ailes is advising the GOP nominee in preparation for three debates against Democrat Hillary Clinton. The first debate is set for Sept. 26 in New York.
A Trump spokeswoman denied to the Times that Ailes was involved in the campaign.
"Mr. Ailes and Mr. Trump have been friends for many years," Hope Hicks said, adding that their relationship is being misinterpreted. "They speak occasionally, which isn't news."
CNN confirmed the Times report, also citing anonymous sources.
Trump has trailed Clinton for weeks in many polls. In the latest UPI/CVoter daily tracking poll, released Tuesday, Clinton is leading with 50.45 percent to Trump's 44.65 percent.
An Emmy Award-winning newsman, Ailes began his television career during the early 1960s and became Fox News chairman and CEO when the network launched in 1996. He left the network last month following a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson.
Ailes has also previously advised multiple political candidates in various bids -- including Richard Nixon's campaign in 1968 and Ronald Reagan's re-election effort in 1984. In fact, he is credited with helping mint Reagan's quip about opponent Walter Mondale's youth -- a crack that's still viewed today as one of the pithiest in debate history.
He also advised George H.W. Bush's successful White House run four years later, though he has not served as a political consultant since 1992.