Last April, during an appearance at the National Press Club, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch displayed his trademark cluelessness about Fox News by pointing to Greta Van Susteren as an example of someone on the network who is "certainly close to the Democratic Party." As we noted, this was especially comical at the time, because Van Susteren was in the middle of turning her show into the official platform for Republicans trying to overturn the recently passed health care reform bill.
Today, Van Susteren showed her closeness to the Democratic Party by coming up with an almost unfathomably nitpicky reason to chide President Obama for being insufficiently "bipartisan."
Van Susteren announced on her blog that she thinks yesterday may have represented "a missed opportunity for President Obama" because it would have been a "grand gesture" for Obama to appear at the groundbreaking for George W. Bush's presidential library. Of course, as Van Susteren herself noted, Obama was a bit busy yesterday awarding the Medal of Honor, and she agreed that it was "a very important day for the nation" and that he "had to be there." (I guess he was supposed to be in two places at once?)
She also noted the obvious, which is that she has no idea if Bush actually invited Obama to the ceremony.
So, Van Susteren laments Obama's "missed opportunity" because he didn't attend an event that he may not have been invited to that took place while he was busy awarding the Medal of Honor.
Had Obama actually gone to the ceremony, he could have enjoyed the atmosphere of bipartisanship created by former Vice President Dick Cheney taking jabs at him.
In an interview with The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes addressed Keith Olbermann's recent suspension from MSNBC.
As we noted at the time, Fox mostly avoided touching the story (since any report criticizing Olbermann would have made them seem like huge hypocrites). Kurtz reported that "Ailes had sent word to the troops that it wasn't much of a story." Kurtz also quotes Ailes as saying, "It isn't like we don't know the guy supports left-wingers."
Ailes proceeded to explain what Fox's supposed standards are when it comes to political donations:
Ailes says he bars his hard-news journalists from making political contributions, but merely discourages the practice for commentators and talk-show hosts. It can "disrupt the appearance of integrity. You have a responsibility not to make your colleagues look like a horse's ass."
He draws the line at donating to a candidate while also putting that person on the air, as Olbermann did in the case of Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva. But Hannity did the same thing in giving $5,000 to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and also interviewing her on his program.
Ailes doesn't defend the move, saying only: "I don't think there's any doubt about what Sean Hannity is." Last April, an obviously annoyed Ailes ordered Hannity to cancel a show at a Cincinnati Tea Party event for which the organizers were charging admission.
So, to recap: Ailes discourages opinion hosts and commentators from making political contributions because it might "disrupt the appearance of integrity" and claims that Olbermann's suspension "wasn't much of a story." However, he added that Olbermann's donating to a candidate while also interviewing them on-air was over the line. When Kurtz pointed out that Fox's own Sean Hannity had done the exact same thing, Ailes basically shrugged.
Essentially, Ailes pretended to have standards, was told that one of his primetime hosts had violated those standards, so he discarded them.
Now that the elections are over, Dick Morris is going to have to find something else to do with his Fox News appearances other than openly fundraising for Republican candidates. If this morning is any indication, he is going to seamlessly transition to advocating for GOP proposals.
Morris appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss the earmark ban being discussed by the Senate Republican Caucus. The segment essentially consisted of Morris repeatedly imploring Fox viewers to "go to dickmorris.com right now, in the morning" to "hit the phones" and pressure the Republican Caucus to support the ban. This was important, Morris explained, because "it's really important that we pass this" but "we don't have enough votes yet."
If you go to Morris' website -- after passing through the page asking for your email address so he can beg you for money twice an hour during election season - he has a list of twenty Republican Senators and Senators-elect, along with their phone numbers, that "we have to work on."
Brian Kilmeade told Morris that "between your website" and the pressure from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the ban has a good chance to pass.
This is far from the first time Morris has used his Fox platform to encourage their viewers to contact Congress for the Republican purposes. Earlier this year, Morris appeared on Fox repeatedly to urge viewers to "go to dickmorris.com" to find a list of congressman to pressure about the health care reform bill.
Fox essentially pays Morris to openly fundraise and advocate for the GOP on their network -- though I guess you could say that about most of their employees.
This afternoon, Fox Business Network announced that it hired former CNN host Lou Dobbs to host a show on its network.
Dobbs' tenure at CNN was marred by his trafficking in outlandish conspiracy theories, often targeting immigrants. Dobbs used his platform on CNN to push claims about our government's (imaginary) plans for a "North American Union" and repeatedly linked immigration to fears about a "reconquista" movement, the (imaginary) threat of Mexicans actually taking over the American Southwest. Dobbs also came under fire after his program grossly overstated the number of new leprosy cases in the U.S. in order to blame recent immigrants for the (imaginary) spike in cases.
And, of course, Dobbs capped his tenure at the network by promoting conspiracy theories about President Obama's birth certificate.
Dobbs' promotion of all of these conspiracy theories has apparently earned him a fan in Alex Jones, perhaps the most prominent conspiracy theorist in the country. In addition to pushing many other conspiracy theories (including the idea that a "New World Order" will kill 80 percent of the global population), Jones is considered one of the leaders of the 9-11 Truth movement, which posits that the September 11 terror attacks were actually perpetrated by our government.
Apparently not put off by Jones' promotion of things like 9-11 Trutherism, Dobbs joined him on his radio show last month. Jones introduced Dobbs by saying he was shown the door at CNN because he wouldn't "compromise on Barry Soetoro and the open borders." (As Jones' website explains, "Barry Soetoro" is a birther code word and instrumental to "exposing important keys to President Obama's true history.")
Far from being a contentious interview, the two spoke mostly in harmony about things like "one-world government." During the interview, Jones even (correctly) predicted that Dobbs would end up on Fox Business Network.
Just about a year to the day that he left CNN, Lou Dobbs is returning to cable news, this time as host of his own show on News Corp.'s Fox Business Network.
Fox Business Network is expected to announce that it has signed Dobbs as early as Wednesday afternoon. It's the latest high-profile hire for the cable network, which launched a little over three years ago and is in 57 million homes. Although that is far fewer homes than its chief rival, CNBC, Fox Business last week managed to beat CNBC on election night, both in viewers and the key adults 25-54 demographic.
Dobbs left CNN after repeatedly embarrassing the network by dabbling in absurd conspiracy theories about President Obama's birth certificate. Dobbs also caused friction at the network due to his years-long, falsehood ridden crusade against illegal immigration. So, Dobbs is heading to Fox, where they apparently aren't bothered by such things. (He has already been popping up on Fox News in recent months to misinform their viewers about immigration.)
Dobbs' hiring might not be welcomed by everyone at Fox News. Fox News host Geraldo Rivera has repeatedly criticized Dobbs for his "slander" against Hispanics. He has also publicly spoken against Fox News hiring Dobbs. Dobbs, in turn, has called Rivera a "cowardly liar" and "annoying." Following Dobbs' departure from CNN, Fox Business anchor Liz Claman wrote on Twitter, "Was with Geraldo and his wife Erica last night when news of Lou Dobbs quitting CNN hit. Clearly Geraldo won that battle."
On Glenn Beck's radio program in October 2009, Fox Business host John Stossel said of conservative rhetoric on immigration: "If it means the Lou Dobbs-kind of rants about immigrants wrecking America, I don't subscribe to that. I think immigrants by and large do good things for America." Dobbs, in turn, has lashed out at Stossel.
Of course, Dobbs is not the first host to find a comfortable home on Fox Business after leaving their previous place of employment under controversial circumstances. After MSNBC fired Don Imus for his comments about the Rutgers Womens' Basketball team, Fox Business brought him on board.
Back in June, during one of his routine "I'm always right" proclamations, Glenn Beck announced that if he "get[s] out of control and start[s] leveling baseless charges that can't be backed up," then he would be "fired." As we pointed out, Beck hurls "baseless charges" for a living and regularly refuses to engage in substantive discussion of criticism of his work.
While this could be written after pretty much every episode of Beck's Fox News program, it bears repeating: By his own standards, Glenn Beck deserves to be fired after last night's program.
Last night, Beck endeavored to profile "puppet master" George Soros, the philanthropist who Beck claims controls the media, the global economy, and the political process. However, working backward from that absurd thesis caused Beck and his research staff predictable trouble. Namely, Beck's show relied on blatant falsehoods, mangled quotes, and distorted history.
While there are far too many "baseless charges" from last night's program to recap here, it's worth focusing on how Beck's attempts to buttress his assertion that Soros is some kind of creepy "puppet master" defy logic (and often the laws of space and time).
Proving once again that Fox's boosterism of GOP candidates doesn't stop after helping to get them elected, yesterday Fox Business host and Fox economic analyst Stuart Varney interviewed congresswoman-elect Kristi Noem (SD) during his guest-hosting stint on Neil Cavuto's Fox News show. (Though I use the term "interviewed" loosely.)
"Business journalist" Varney asked her a series of softball questions, ranging from how she feels about Michael Bloomberg's criticism of the Tea Party -- which he described as coming from "the elites of New York City" - to reports that she will be tapped for a leadership position in the new GOP House.
Near the end of the interview, Varney became so enamored with Noem's answers to his "pointed" questions that he praised her "sheer diplomacy," told her she was "doing a great job," and asked if she was "enjoying" the interview. Watch:
As we've seen, when a news network employs both politicians considering running for office and analysts expected to give their honest political assessments, things can get messy. A split is emerging in Fox News between people who think Fox contributor Sarah Palin is qualified to run for president, and those who don't.
Fox contributor Karl Rove recently indicated that he did not feel Palin has the "gravitas" necessary for the presidency. Palin responded by questioning why Rove feels "so threatened and so paranoid." Apparently Rove has some company among Fox employees.
As reported by Politico's Keach Hagey, Fox contributor Mort Kondracke thinks Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin "are responsible for the fact that the Senate did not go Republican" due to their support of candidates Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Ken Buck, and Joe Miller. Discussing whether Palin could be the GOP nominee in 2012, Kondracke said that she is "a joke even within her own party" and "the idea that she would be the presidential nominee is unthinkable."
Kondracke has previously had harsh words for Palin, saying during an appearance on Fox News' Special Report in 2008 that she is "utterly unqualified to be President. She is the Dan Quayle of - she's worse than Dan Quayle. Dan Quayle at least had served as a senator and was, you know, and was conversant with national issues."
Here's the video of Kondracke's comments:
Fox News has recently received a healthy dose of criticism over the fact that they employ no less than five potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates. As we've documented, from the beginning of the year through September 18, the various Fox candidates spoke through Fox News in at least 269 appearances on the network.
And as we noted yesterday, the Fox candidates are open about reaping the benefits that come with a platform on the network. Likely presidential candidate and Fox contributor Rick Santorum told National Review last month that his role on Fox has "been big" and "helped folks remember who I am."
While much of the criticism has come from observers appalled at the lack of journalistic ethics inherent in a news network essentially paying political candidates while giving them a platform to address Republican voters, the network has also been targeted by the campaigns of non-Fox candidates considering presidential runs.
In September, Politico's Jonathan Martin and Keach Hagey reported that "officials with some of the other campaigns in waiting are plainly annoyed at the advantage they see the four potential GOP candidates have with Fox." They also quoted an anonymous aide - anonymous because "no one wants to offend a news outlet with a potentially outsize role in determining the next GOP nominee" - saying that "I wish we could get that much airtime, but, oh yeah, we don't get a paycheck."
So, now that the midterms are over and the media's attention inevitably turns to the GOP primary, how is Fox going to handle these complaints? By severing ties to its employees that double as putative presidential candidates, perhaps? No, that would be vaguely ethical.
Continuing in the long tradition of prominent conservatives admitting that Fox News is just the house organ of the GOP, this morning former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum told Fox host Neil Cavuto that Republicans are better-equipped to "fight" because they now "have Fox News" to "get a message out."
While Santorum's admission is noteworthy in its own right, it takes on added significance due to fact that Santorum -- along with at least four of his fellow Fox employees -- is mentioned among potential candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
Clearly, one of the most important roles for Fox going forward will be to "fight" and "get the message out" for the eventual GOP presidential nominee. However, it remains to be seen how the network is going to handle its various employees using their network as a platform to position themselves for a presidential run.
And make no mistake, Santorum has been open about using his Fox platform to bolster a potential presidential run. In an interview with National Review Online last month about his surely not-coincidental increased presence in Iowa, Santorum told NRO's Katelynd Mahoney that his role on Fox has "been big," and "helped folks remember who I am... It's a great platform, being able to talk about the current issues of the day."
As we documented, from the beginning of the year through September 18, the various Fox candidates spoke through Fox News in at least 269 appearances on the network. In September, Sarah Palin advised then-candidate Christine O'Donnell to "speak to the American people. Speak through Fox News."
Last month, Fox contributor and fellow potential presidential candidate Mike Huckabee hosted former Fox News employee John Kasich to plug the latter's then-candidacy for Ohio governor. During the interview Huckabee stressed to viewers the "importance" of Ohio in the "national political landscape," and noted that Obama "knows if he loses the governor's office in Ohio - which is ground zero - he's in deep trouble for 2012."
Fox News doesn't appear to be concerned that its employees are using network resources to position themselves for possible presidential runs. And it remains to be seen how the network will deal with its employees transitioning from theoretical candidates to actual candidates.