Last week, I noted that Karl Rove's insistence that the Obama administration violated a statute that "prohibits a federal official from interfering... with the nomination or election for office" with its offer to Rep. Joe Sestak appeared to implicate him in numerous similar "crimes" during his tenure at the Bush White House. But it gets better: Back in 2004, Rove reportedly offered Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) a Cabinet post, which would have prevented the senator from standing for re-election.
Somehow, this reported offer did not result in Sean Hannity detailing numerous "crimes" the Bush administration had committed or Dick Morris claiming that an "impeachable offense" had taken place. I know you're shocked.
On November 17, 2004, CNN reported that Nelson "has been approached about becoming agriculture secretary in the Bush administration, according to two sources," adding that "President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, spoke to Nelson about the possibility in a telephone conversation last Friday, according to the two sources familiar with their conversation." CNN noted the obvious political implications -- Nelson would have to resign his Senate seat if he accepted the position, and his successor would be selected by then-Gov. Mike Johanns, a Republican.
CNN further reported that Rove's "office would not confirm or deny a specific conversation with Nelson, adding that it is Rove's practice not to divulge private conversations with members of Congress." Or, as the right-wing would put it if the White House had been held by a Democrat, the administration stonewalled the press and refused to detail its "crimes."
Media conservatives have relied on discredited sources to push the false allegation that the White House broke the law and "bribed" Rep. Joe Sestak with an administration job in exchange for staying out of the Senate race. These sources have a history of promoting falsehoods and have significant ties to the GOP -- which include supporting Sestak's opponent in the Senate race.
In claiming that the Gulf oil spill is "Obama's Katrina," media figures and outlets have falsely suggested that the federal government has been unresponsive to Louisiana's request for a permit to create sand barriers -- or "berms" -- around the coast. But, as required by law, the Army Corps of Engineers has been studying the plan's impacts and reportedly responded with concerns that it could push oil into Mississippi; and, numerous experts have questioned whether the plan would even be effective.
This evening on On the Record, Fox News political analyst Karl Rove weighed in on Rep. Joe Sestak's claim that he was offered a job by the Obama administration in order to convince him to drop out of the Senate race in Pennsylvania. Among other allegations, Rove asserts that the Obama administration may have violated "18 U.S.C. 595, which prohibits a federal official from interfering, a government employee, interfering with the nomination or election for office":
A few points. First of all, if Rove's interpretation of 18 U.S.C. 595 is accurate, he is probably guilty of violating it in his past role as White House advisor to President Bush.
Earlier this month, Politico reported that Fox News "political analyst" Karl Rove was "secretly plot[ting a] vast network to reclaim power" for the Republican Party. In the weeks since news of the effort broke, Fox News has been caught looking the other way time and again when it comes to Rove's conflicting roles.
Now Politico is reporting that Rove urged Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul to cancel his appearance on NBC's Meet the Press this weekend after several days of tough media coverage following his comments on the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
Paul, who canceled a planned appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" after a week of tough coverage, seems to have switched to a more disciplined approach: get off national TV, focus on Kentucky and stay on message.
That's in part because senior Republicans have told him to do so.
Karl Rove, the former top adviser to George W Bush, called Paul's campaign manager this week and said the candidate was hurting himself with all the exposure, according to a source familiar with the conversation (In an email, Rove only said "no comment" when asked about the matter)
At this point one could easily come to the conclusion that Fox News only pays Rove to underwrite his political activity. After all, they've shown no concern whatsoever over the ethical implications of his dual role as a network "political analyst" and his work for the GOP "campaign apparatus."
Those ethical implications are further complicated by news that Rove is purportedly advising partisan political campaigns directly.
From the May 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Sean Hannity falsely claimed that Elena Kagan "thr[ew] military recruiters on college campus at Harvard ... off the college campus in the middle of a war in violation of federal law." In fact, Kagan consistently followed the law, Harvard students had access to military recruiters during her entire tenure as dean, and Harvard's data show that her actions did not adversely affect military recruitment.
From the May 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Yet again, Fox News has demonstrated its lack of concern for the ethical implications of Karl Rove's dual role as a "political analyst" for the network and his involvement in a GOP "campaign apparatus." Tonight, Greta Van Susteren opened her show with a lengthy segment in which Rove spoke extensively about Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and her three potential GOP challengers. Following the path laid in Happening Now co-host Jon Scott's interview of Rove yesterday, Van Susteren made absolutely no mention of Rove's role in this GOP political operation, introducing him only as "the author of the new book Courage and Consequence":
One would think that after its Sean Hannity ethical nightmare, Fox News would take these things seriously. Media Matters has already pointed out this particular issue with Rove three times previously. Where does Fox News draw the line? Will it wait until its employees actively fundraise and campaign for GOP candidates?
From the April 30 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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From the April 29 edition of Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor:
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From Karl Rove's April 29 Wall Street Journal column:
Before his health-care bill passed, Mr. Obama sent a tough letter to health-insurance CEOs and then castigated them 22 times in a follow-up prime-time televised speech. This is behavior worthy of a Third World dictator-not the head of a vibrant democracy.
But it is the president's intimidation that is most troubling. Mr. Obama has the disturbing tendency to question the motives of those who disagree with him, often making them the objects of ad hominem attacks. His motives, on the other hand, are pure.
Mr. Obama often makes it seem illegitimate to challenge his views, and he isn't content to argue issues on the merits. Instead, he wants to make opponents into pariahs. And it's not just business executives who are on the receiving end. We've also seen this pattern with the administration's attacks on the tea party movement and those who attended town-hall meetings last summer on health care.
This is a bad habit-and a dangerous one. The presidency is a very powerful office, and presidents need to be careful not to use it to silence dissenting voices.
Karl Rove and Fox News have pushed the conspiracy theory that an Office of Financial Research created by the Senate financial reform bill would "peer into" everybody's checking accounts, credit cards, and financial transactions. However, the OFR would simply collect and analyze data about potential risks to the financial system, and the proposal has been endorsed by Republican Sen. Bob Corker, as well as numerous economics and finance experts, including six Nobel laureates in economics.
Fox News' treatment of Karl Rove has been ethically dubious since the former White House deputy chief of staff joined the network to provide analysis of the 2008 presidential election. But the recent revelation that he has been promoting American Crossroads, a political committee that is planning to spend more than $50 million helping GOP incumbents and challengers during the 2010 cycle, should alarm a network that is already desperately fending off accusations that its excessively favorable treatment of the conservative movement crosses the ethical line.
It has been reported that Rove has been "pitching" the group to "wealthy conservative benefactors around the country over the past few months," that he helped provide it with "start-up capital," and that he will serve as an "informal adviser." Will he participate in decisions regarding which races are targeted and not targeted? How much money is spent in each race?
If Rove does play a role in the American Crossroads' targeting, will Fox ban him from discussing races in which the group is spending money? Or will they allow him to echo the message that the group is using in their ads? Will they ask him to analyze those ads on-air?
What about the donors? If Rove is trying to get, say, longtime GOP rainmaker Fred Malek to make a big donation, it seems unlikely that Rove would criticize Sarah Palin, whom Malek has strongly supported.
Unlike CNN's James Carville or Paul Begala, Rove -- who is often introduced as Fox's "political analyst," a term that would seem to suggest some degree of impartiality -- appears on the network without a counterpart from the opposite party to challenge his claims. For Fox, Rove's political analysis is gospel truth.
But given the possibility that Rove may now be helping to direct a $50 million GOP slush fund, Fox News needs to answer the questions swirling around their employee and take action to avoid being mired in another ethical mess.
Karl Rove misleadingly suggested that President Obama is planning to implement a "tax increase" by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. In fact, the Bush tax cuts are set to expire on the schedule enacted by former President Bush and a Republican-controlled Congress, and Obama has proposed extending the cuts except those for upper-income earners.