As Mitt Romney is reportedly considering a third presidential run, several conservative media figures are calling foul, labeling the idea "too stupid" and suggesting another Romney bid would be "preposterous."
After repeatedly claiming he was done with running for president, last Friday Romney apparently reversed course, telling a group of Republican donors in New York City, "I want to be president." Since then, Romney's team has reportedly been working "to reassemble his national political network."
As part of his efforts to kickstart another run, Romney reportedly reached out to several conservative media figures.
According to The Washington Post, he recently invited Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham to his ski home to discuss "politics and policy," and also made phone calls to CNN analyst Newt Gingrich and Fox News contributor Scott Brown. In a subsequent appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Ingraham initially told viewers that between Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Romney, her support would "probably be a tie between Romney and Walker." Pressed by O'Reilly, she added, "I'll just say Romney because he's been through the grist mill before." (Ingraham explained that Romney had made her and her daughter "cocoa and soup" when she visited his ski house.)
During an appearance on Fox News' Your World, Brown said that when Romney recently called him, "I encouraged Mitt to run." Brown told Fox News viewers that Romney "was right" on a variety of issues and that he "absolutely" wants Romney to join the race.
But not everyone in the conservative movement is as supportive.
In an article for the New York Times, reporter Jonathan Martin writes that despite the "excitement among his loyalists in the Republican donor class" for another Romney run, "interviews with more than two dozen Republican activists, elected officials and contributors around the country reveal little appetite for another Romney candidacy."
Romney also faces a hurdle in several prominent conservative media figures and outlets that are less than enthusiastic about the idea of another Romney run.
This week marks the release of Florida Senator Marco Rubio's new book, American Dreams, which political observers point out "just happens to coincide with the start of the presidential election cycle."
As Rubio weighs a 2016 presidential run, his new book reportedly focuses on "outlining policy prescriptions on a range of subjects" and fearmongering about how electing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "would be a death blow to the American Dream."
Rubio's rise from Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives to U.S. Senator in the thick of a potential presidential campaign is thanks in no small part to Fox News. For years, the network has helped bolster his political career by fawning over him, including touting him as a vice presidential pick for former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Erick Erickson, the RedState.com editor who is now a contributor at the network, put Rubio on the political map when he endorsed Rubio's 2010 Senate bid at a time when the candidate was floundering in the GOP primary polls. Fox News political analyst Karl Rove also played a key role in Rubio's ascension, providing establishment support when he threw the weight of his Crossroads political groups behind Rubio's Senate candidacy.
While Rubio's immigration reform stance has since ruffled a lot of conservative feathers -- including some people on Fox -- he nonetheless has been the beneficiary of a major career boost from the conservative network.
Fox News is already helping Rubio promote his book and plug his 2016 aspirations. Rubio kicked off his book tour with a friendly appearance on Hannity the night before the book's release. Sean Hannity previewed the interview by telling viewers that Rubio "is looking, well, awfully presidential these days with the release of a brand new book that's just out today, American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone."
Below is a post first published by Media Matters in 2013 highlighting Fox News' history of cheerleading for Rubio.
Fox News and Mike Huckabee are finally parting ways as the now former host explores a second presidential run. After serving as the governor of Arkansas and losing a 2008 presidential primary bid, Huckabee was hired by the network. His media career was rife with controversial comments and outright falsehoods.
Media Matters looks back at Huckabee's worst media moments below.
While discussing President Obama's birth certificate in February 2011, Huckabee repeatedly and falsely claimed President Obama grew up "in Kenya." Huckabee claimed that upbringing explains why Obama's worldview is "very different than the average American ... his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather."
Amidst widespread derision over his remarks, Huckabee went into damage control mode and offered a series of increasingly dishonest explanations for the comments. His defense didn't wash with many observers, including conservative columnist George Will.
In 2014, conservative media outlets and personalities routinely crossed ethical boundaries. Media Matters looks back at some of the worst media scandals of the year.
The ethical mess that was Fox News in 2014 is perhaps best embodied by Scott Brown, the former senator turned Fox News contributor turned Senate candidate (again) turned Fox News contributor (again).
During his original run for the Senate in 2009 and early 2010, Brown could reliably count on Fox News for fawning coverage -- including hosts playing on-air with a shirtless Scott Brown "action figure."
After Brown lost his 2012 re-election bid to Elizabeth Warren (despite Fox's best efforts to smear Warren), the network quickly hired him as a contributor, celebrating the "out of the box thinking" Brown would bring to the channel. Within weeks of his hiring, it was obvious that Brown and Fox were teaming up to help set Brown up for the next act of his political career.
During his appearances in 2013, Brown was repeatedly asked about his potential candidacy for New Hampshire's U.S. Senate seat, afforded an opportunity to opine on a range of potential campaign issues, and given a chance to inoculate himself against the inevitable carpetbagger criticism he would face in trying to run for office in New Hampshire after previously serving as a U.S. senator representing Massachusetts.
In 2014, Brown seemed to carefully delay formal declaration of his candidacy in order to avoid being suspended by Fox News. The network, which eventually cut ties with him in March, gave Brown a platform to attack his eventual opponent, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and continue to hone his messaging to Fox's massive audience.
Fox's attempts to get Brown back into the Senate didn't end with his contract. The network produced and aired a documentary featuring Bret Baier, its chief news anchor, called Live Free or Die: Obamacare in New Hampshire. Brown's team found it so favorable that it repeatedly screened it for voters in the state, including in an event hosted at their campaign headquarters.
Fox News helpfully re-aired the special both nights on the weekend before the election, but it wasn't enough to help carry Brown across the finish line, as he lost his Senate bid.
Two weeks later, Fox News hired him back.
Conservative media haven't had the best luck in recent years when choosing which fringe protests or figures to elevate into the national conversation, often mistakenly tying themselves to extremism and bizarre conspiracy theories. In 2013, Fox News, Glenn Beck, Drudge, and other conservatives helped promote a rally of truckers planning to clog the Beltway to protest the government. The protest -- which eventually fizzled -- turned out to have been organized in part by someone who thinks President Obama and Osama bin Laden are literally the same person.
This year, conservatives threw their weight behind a Nevada rancher fighting against the federal government over grazing fees, only to be burned when he was videotaped giving his thoughts on "the Negro." 2014 also featured an unhinged conspiracy about President Obama trying (and apparently failing) to spark a domestic Ebola outbreak and a staggering amount of outlandish comments from Fox News contributor Allen West.
Media Matters looks back at the year on the fringe.
Last night on his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly celebrated having "won the war" on Christmas. He continued the victory lap on NBC's Late Night, telling host Seth Meyers, "it's over, we won. Anybody can say Merry Christmas if they want to."
But if the War on Christmas is over, someone forgot to tell O'Reilly's colleagues at Fox Nation, who are warning readers this morning of the supposedly ongoing "War on Christmas":
Jesse Watters, a correspondent for The O'Reilly Factor, serves as a managing editor for Fox Nation.
Media outlets have been hosting former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to discuss race as it relates to crime and policing. But Giuliani, who stoked "racial divisions" during his time in office, has used these outlets to push "false" and "misleading" crime statistics.
After the Washington Post reported on the numerous steps Mike Huckabee is taking towards mounting a presidential run, Fox News announced that it was "evaluating his current status" as a contributor and planning to meet with him when he returned from an overseas trip. But Huckabee has returned from the trip and is back on-air at the network, hosting GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson's lobbyist to promote Adelson's "top" issue.
While Huckabee continues to use Fox News to bolster his political ambitions, the network has not offered a public update on his employment.
In a November 12 profile of Huckabee, Washington Post reporters Tom Hamburger and Robert Costa laid out the various ways Huckabee and his associates are gearing up for a potential presidential run. According to the Post, Huckabee and his team have been courting donors and GOP insiders, scheduling campaign planning meetings, and looking for a campaign headquarters.
Costa and Hamburger highlighted the "finesse" needed by Huckabee and his team to avoid losing his Fox News show, which Huckabee and his allies have repeatedly cited as important in keeping him visible to voters. According to "Republicans familiar with Huckabee's efforts," the Fox host designed his new political group "to allow him to retain his Fox News contract, since the group is not overtly political."
After the Post story was published, Media Matters called for Huckabee's suspension, citing the fact that the network had recently cut ties with Ben Carson -- another contributor who was publicly considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination -- and pointing out that Huckabee by any reasonable standard had provided just as much (if not more) evidence that he planned to enter the race.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz tweeted that according to network executive Bill Shine, Fox News is "taking a serious look" at Huckabee's activities and "evaluating his current status."
UPDATE 2: CNN's Brian Stelter reported on Huckabee's status at the network and included a more extensive statement from Shine, who said the network plans to meet with Huckabee when he returns next week from overseas:
"We are taking a serious look at Governor Huckabee's recent activity in the political arena and are evaluating his current status," Shine said in a statement to CNN. "We plan on meeting with him when he returns from his trip overseas."
It's time for Fox News to suspend Mike Huckabee's contract as he continues to take steps towards a 2016 presidential run.
A new Washington Post profile reveals that Huckabee is in the early stages of mounting a 2016 campaign, but doing so in a way that deliberately lets him keep his Fox News contract and weekly show. Huckabee's tightrope walk -- essentially running for office but avoiding directly saying so -- once again reveals the farcical nature of the network's relationship with contributors-turned-political candidates.
Last week, Fox severed the contract of contributor Ben Carson after he announced the release of a 40-minute biographical ad that was seen as the "opening salvo" in a 2016 campaign. Discussing Carson's suspension, Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz said on his show that "a guy who is more or less running for president shouldn't be on a network payroll, which means Fox also faces a decision about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who is openly weighing a White House run as well."
Kurtz is right: someone openly discussing a run for the White House "shouldn't be on a nework payroll," which is why Fox News needs to cut ties with Huckabee.
By any reasonable standard, Huckabee has provided just as much evidence he plans to run for president as Carson. In their November 12 article, Washington Post reporters Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger highlight how Huckabee is "reconnecting with activists and enlisting staff to position himself in a growing field of potential Republican presidential candidates."
According to Costa and Hamburger, Huckabee's presidential campaign groundwork includes taking an overseas trip with "more than 100 pastors and GOP insiders from early primary states"; using a political non-profit "as an employment perch for his political team"; looking for a campaign headquarters in Arkansas; holding "private meetings with powerful GOP financiers" to court their financial support; releasing a new book; and "planning two strategy sessions in December...to discuss timing, potential staffing, and an opening pitch to voters."
After spending years promoting his career, Fox News is pushing former employee Scott Brown across the finish line in his New Hampshire Senate race.
Both nights this weekend, just days before Tuesday's midterm elections, Fox is re-airing its documentary about health care reform in the state, Live Free or Die: Obamacare In New Hampshire.The special, which features Brown, first aired in August and was dismissed by the state's Democratic party as "a blatant attempt to prop up their former employee's campaign, full of half-truths and misleading rhetoric."
Brown promoted the initial airing on his Twitter feed, telling followers to "Tune into @FoxNews tonight at 10 to watch my discussion with @BretBaier on the 'ObamaCare in New Hampshire' documentary." The special is so favorable to Brown that his campaign has since screened it for voters.
His campaign website announced in late August that it was planning to hold a "special screening" of Live Free or Die for supporters. A campaign poster touting the event called the Fox special "The Documentary That Senator Shaheen Doesn't Want You To See." A week later, Brown invited people to his campaign's headquarters for a second screening.
Devoting significant airtime to a pro-Brown documentary shortly before the election isn't the only way Fox has been trying to give Brown a late boost.
Earlier this week Fox & Friends hosted Brown for an embarrassing interview. During the conversation, Brian Kilmeade told Brown that "both sides are saying you're one of the finest politicians that they've seen because you like people, and you like meeting them, and you'll have a few beers with them." Promoting one of the principle talking points of Brown's campaign, Steve Doocy claimed Brown's opponent, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, "has been, essentially, a rubber stamp for Barack Obama."
Attempting to contrast Brown's behavior during his time in Senate, Doocy offered, "When you were in the U.S. Senate, you were not a rubber stamp, an automatic rubber stamp for George Bush's policies." Brown was forced to correct Doocy's bungled talking point, noting he didn't serve while President Bush was in office.
It was a strange mistake from Doocy, who should be well-acquainted with Brown's time in the Senate, considering Fox & Friends and the rest of the network went all-out to help get him elected during his run for a Massachusetts Senate seat in 2009 and 2010 (including Doocy and his co-hosts playing with a Scott Brown action figure on-air):
When Brown lost his 2012 re-election bid, he was quickly hired by Fox News as a contributor. According to the network, he was going to bring his "out of the box thinking" to the airwaves. It quickly became clear that Brown and Fox News were mostly teaming up to help prep the next stage of his political career.