Thursday, December 6, 2012

Turd Blossom blues:
Fox News shortens Karl Rove’s leash

KARL ROVE has been a fixture of both Republican politics and Fox News for so long now, it’s hard to remember when there was ever daylight between them. The Republican strategist has been part of the fair and balanced network’s programming going back to early 2008.

But the bloom is off the Turd Blossom. On Tuesday, Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine reported that the founder of the Crossroads GPS SuperPAC, chief strategist for the Bush 2000 campaign and media prince of darkness will be somewhat muzzled by Fox in the immediate post-election future.

“The post-election soul searching going on inside the Republican Party is taking place inside Fox News as well,” Sherman writes. “Fox News chief Roger Ailes, a canny marketer and protector of his network’s brand, has been taking steps since November to reposition Fox in the post-election media environment, freshening story lines — and in some cases, changing the characters. According to multiple Fox sources, Ailes has issued a new directive to his staff: He wants the faces associated with the election off the air — for now.”

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That means Karl Rove and fellow political seer Dick Morris, a former Clinton administration adviser, have been pulled from heavy rotation on the Fox News schedule.

“Multiple sources say that Ailes was angry at Rove’s election-night tantrum when he disputed the network’s call for Obama,” Sherman reported. Anyone watching Fox that night remembers it well. With the outcome in Ohio slipping away, and with the network having already called the presidency for Obama, Rove desperately looked for a way around his network’s calling of Ohio for Obama — a decision Rove had the nerve to call “premature.”

Have a look. It’s sad watching a man with too much skin in the game lose his investment.

“Ailes’s deputy, Fox News programming chief Bill Shine, has sent out orders mandating that producers must get permission before booking Rove or Morris,” Sherman reported.

While Rove had millions of other people’s money riding on the outcome, Morris had little more than his reputation as a pundit. That took a serious hit after he, at odds with just about every respectable pollster there was, went on Fox News with a straight face and predicted a Romney “landslide.”

Morris, at least, had the self-possession to man up and admit his error. Writing in The Hill on Nov. 7, he said that a “key reason for my bum prediction is that I believed, mistakenly, that the 2008 surge in black, Latino and young voter turnout would recede in 2012 to ‘normal’ levels. Didn’t happen. These high levels of minority and young voter participation are here to stay. And, with them, a permanent reshaping of our nation’s politics.”

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NOT SO Karl Rove. Two days after the election, in the first of the postmortems to come, Rove took a novel approach, blaming President Obama for voter suppression.

“He succeeded by suppressing the vote, by saying to people, 'You may not like who I am and I know you can't bring yourself to vote for me, but I'm going to paint this other guy as simply a rich guy who only cares about himself,'" Rove said in a Fox News interview with anchor Megyn Kelly.

Ailes, a longtime media consultant in Republican circles and Rove’s nominal boss, appears to not be so caught up in denial. In an interview with TVNewser’s Chris Ariens, Ailes seems to have opened the door to a more moderate approach to covering the president Fox News loves to hate.

“It’s day to day for us,” Ailes said. “We … we have no agenda. If he runs into a burning building tomorrow and saves four kids, he’s gonna be the biggest goddamn hero Fox News ever saw. But if he leaves four guys behind on the battlefield but can’t explain it, then he’s gonna have a problem with Fox News.”

“I don’t mind praising the guy and I don’t mind questioning the guy,” Ailes said. “It’s day to day.”

That, folks, sounds curiously close to being really “fair and balanced.” We’ll see how long this lasts.

Image credits: Rove, Fox News logo: © 2012 Fox News. Ailes: via TVNewser.

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