Surely by coincidence, three of the people most often listed as likely candidates for the GOP's 2012 presidential nomination - Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich - have been spending some time in Iowa lately. Huckabee was in the state this past weekend, Palin is visiting Des Moines to promote her book this week (on News Corp's dime), and Gingrich swung by the state last week.
As we've noted, all three have benefited from their platform as Fox News employees, using their employment at the network to position themselves for possible presidential runs.
And a fourth Fox candidate, Rick Santorum, was interviewed by National Review Online last month about his increased presence in Iowa, during which he told the magazine 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."
In recent weeks, as likely 2012 candidates have begun to slowly transform into actual candidates, Fox finds itself in yet another ethical mess. While the network has claimed it will immediately end the contract of any employee that officially declares their candidacy, it's quite clear based on the actions of Santorum, Huckabee, Palin, and Gingrich, that they are at least dipping their toes in the 2012 pool - a reality acknowledged by Fox itself, which has admitted that Palin "certainly sounds like" she is running.
Now Mike Huckabee is joking to the Des Moines Register about wanting fellow Fox employee Sarah Palin's endorsement if he decides to run. If Fox had any concerns about ethics, they would immediately suspend the contracts of their employees that are exploring presidential runs.
But they don't, so they won't.
During an interview with Howard Kurtz, Fox News exec Roger Ailes lashed out at NPR executives over their firing of Juan Williams, saying they are "Nazis" that have a "Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism."
Politico reports that Ailes has apologized to the Anti Defamation League for his comments, saying he was "ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word":
"I was of course ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word," Ailes wrote in a letter to Abe Foxman, ADL's national director. "but I was angry at the time because of NPR's willingness to censor Juan Williams for not being liberal enough."
Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, replied: "I welcome Roger Ailes apology, which is as sincere as it is heartfelt. Nazi comparisons of this nature are clearly inappropriate and offensive. While I wish Roger had never invoked that terminology, I appreciate his efforts to immediately reach out and to retract his words before they did any further harm."
According to NPR's David Folkenlik, an NPR spokeswoman says that Ailes has not apologized to NPR directly for his comments.
And of course, Ailes' comments are entirely in character Fox News. If he agrees that Nazi comparisons are inappropriate, he should have a word with his employees that regularly use Nazi and Holocaust imagery to smear Democrats and progressives.
Michael Calderone has the text of the full letter Ailes sent to the ADL, as well as Foxman's response. Ailes says he should have called NPR execs "nasty, inflexible bigot[s]" instead, and defends Beck's Soros attacks:
I'm writing this just to let you know some background but also to apologize for using "Nazi" when in my now considered opinion "nasty, inflexible bigot" would have worked better. Juan Williams is a good man and like you a friend. And my friends never have to worry about me sticking up for them--even if I'm occasionally politically incorrect I never leave any doubts about my loyalty.
Last night, Fox News' Sarah Palin told ABC News that she thinks she could beat Obama in 2012 and is currently "looking at the lay of the land" and trying to decide if she will run for president.
Continuing their foray into heretofore unimaginable ethical quandaries, the Fox media empire is currently aggressively promoting Palin's comments.
Here's the front page of Fox Nation from earlier this morning:
And the front page of FoxNews.com:
On America's Newsroom this morning, host Martha MacCallum described the interview as a "bombshell," and said that Palin "certainly sounds like she's planning on running." MacCallum also pointed out that it's "not too early for folks to be declaring":
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: