Fox personalities are deep in the grip of Republican primary fever, and they're involving themselves in the process in more eyebrow-raising ways every day. During coverage of the New Hampshire vote on Tuesday night, Fox host Eric Bolling told a member of Mitt Romney's campaign that it's his "job" to "make sure" that Romney "stays as far right as possible."
Bolling also told Jennifer Horn, the co-chair of Romney's National Grassroots Leadership Committee, that "we're all on board if Mitt's it."
Here's the exchange between Horn and Bolling on his Fox Business show Follow the Money:
BOLLING: All right, Jennifer Horn, thank you so much. Listen, we're all on board if Mitt's it. But until then, we just have to make sure he stays as far right as possible. That's my job. Jennifer Horn, thank you so much.
HORN: That's all of our jobs. Thank you, Eric.
Similarly, Sean Hannity used an interview with Rick Perry to let him know exactly where the line is on attacks against Romney. (Perry has accused Romney of engaging in "vulture capitalism" when he worked at Bain Capital.)
Hannity offered examples of which kinds of criticism are acceptable and what is off-limits:
HANNITY: Governor, let me ask you this, though. Because we know whoever gets this nomination is going to be attacked. It's going to be a billion-dollar campaign. Certainly, there are areas, legitimate areas of disagreement you can have with Governor Romney, his evolved positions on guns and abortion or Romneycare. I think those are all legitimate debate here. But there also is -- you know, I just think as a conservative, to say that those people that are willing to invest their money for companies that have either been mismanaged or they're headed for bankruptcy, and they come in and try and get them profitable again, and to say they're vultures and they're unethical, I mean, that's about as severe a charge as you can make. And frankly, you're right. It is one that I would expect from Barack Obama, who says Republicans want dirty air and dirty water. [Fox News, Hannity, 1/10/12 (emphasis added)]
During Fox News' early-morning coverage of the vote in Dixville Notch, Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes was clear about whose side Fox is on: "You know, if you believe the mainstream media, the Republican Party is divided. We're not divided. Folks are just trying to figure out who their candidate is. I think we're going to come out of this stronger. And I think the Republicans are going to have a strong candidate. And I believe evangelical Christians are eventually going to get behind Romney if, in fact, he's the nominee."
Fox isn't just covering the game. It's a player in it as well.