After the Washington Post reported on the numerous steps Mike Huckabee is taking towards mounting a presidential run, Fox News announced that it was "evaluating his current status" as a contributor and planning to meet with him when he returned from an overseas trip. But Huckabee has returned from the trip and is back on-air at the network, hosting GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson's lobbyist to promote Adelson's "top" issue.
While Huckabee continues to use Fox News to bolster his political ambitions, the network has not offered a public update on his employment.
In a November 12 profile of Huckabee, Washington Post reporters Tom Hamburger and Robert Costa laid out the various ways Huckabee and his associates are gearing up for a potential presidential run. According to the Post, Huckabee and his team have been courting donors and GOP insiders, scheduling campaign planning meetings, and looking for a campaign headquarters.
Costa and Hamburger highlighted the "finesse" needed by Huckabee and his team to avoid losing his Fox News show, which Huckabee and his allies have repeatedly cited as important in keeping him visible to voters. According to "Republicans familiar with Huckabee's efforts," the Fox host designed his new political group "to allow him to retain his Fox News contract, since the group is not overtly political."
After the Post story was published, Media Matters called for Huckabee's suspension, citing the fact that the network had recently cut ties with Ben Carson -- another contributor who was publicly considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination -- and pointing out that Huckabee by any reasonable standard had provided just as much (if not more) evidence that he planned to enter the race.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz tweeted that according to network executive Bill Shine, Fox News is "taking a serious look" at Huckabee's activities and "evaluating his current status."
UPDATE 2: CNN's Brian Stelter reported on Huckabee's status at the network and included a more extensive statement from Shine, who said the network plans to meet with Huckabee when he returns next week from overseas:
"We are taking a serious look at Governor Huckabee's recent activity in the political arena and are evaluating his current status," Shine said in a statement to CNN. "We plan on meeting with him when he returns from his trip overseas."
It's time for Fox News to suspend Mike Huckabee's contract as he continues to take steps towards a 2016 presidential run.
A new Washington Post profile reveals that Huckabee is in the early stages of mounting a 2016 campaign, but doing so in a way that deliberately lets him keep his Fox News contract and weekly show. Huckabee's tightrope walk -- essentially running for office but avoiding directly saying so -- once again reveals the farcical nature of the network's relationship with contributors-turned-political candidates.
Last week, Fox severed the contract of contributor Ben Carson after he announced the release of a 40-minute biographical ad that was seen as the "opening salvo" in a 2016 campaign. Discussing Carson's suspension, Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz said on his show that "a guy who is more or less running for president shouldn't be on a network payroll, which means Fox also faces a decision about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who is openly weighing a White House run as well."
Kurtz is right: someone openly discussing a run for the White House "shouldn't be on a nework payroll," which is why Fox News needs to cut ties with Huckabee.
By any reasonable standard, Huckabee has provided just as much evidence he plans to run for president as Carson. In their November 12 article, Washington Post reporters Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger highlight how Huckabee is "reconnecting with activists and enlisting staff to position himself in a growing field of potential Republican presidential candidates."
According to Costa and Hamburger, Huckabee's presidential campaign groundwork includes taking an overseas trip with "more than 100 pastors and GOP insiders from early primary states"; using a political non-profit "as an employment perch for his political team"; looking for a campaign headquarters in Arkansas; holding "private meetings with powerful GOP financiers" to court their financial support; releasing a new book; and "planning two strategy sessions in December...to discuss timing, potential staffing, and an opening pitch to voters."
After spending years promoting his career, Fox News is pushing former employee Scott Brown across the finish line in his New Hampshire Senate race.
Both nights this weekend, just days before Tuesday's midterm elections, Fox is re-airing its documentary about health care reform in the state, Live Free or Die: Obamacare In New Hampshire.The special, which features Brown, first aired in August and was dismissed by the state's Democratic party as "a blatant attempt to prop up their former employee's campaign, full of half-truths and misleading rhetoric."
Brown promoted the initial airing on his Twitter feed, telling followers to "Tune into @FoxNews tonight at 10 to watch my discussion with @BretBaier on the 'ObamaCare in New Hampshire' documentary." The special is so favorable to Brown that his campaign has since screened it for voters.
His campaign website announced in late August that it was planning to hold a "special screening" of Live Free or Die for supporters. A campaign poster touting the event called the Fox special "The Documentary That Senator Shaheen Doesn't Want You To See." A week later, Brown invited people to his campaign's headquarters for a second screening.
Devoting significant airtime to a pro-Brown documentary shortly before the election isn't the only way Fox has been trying to give Brown a late boost.
Earlier this week Fox & Friends hosted Brown for an embarrassing interview. During the conversation, Brian Kilmeade told Brown that "both sides are saying you're one of the finest politicians that they've seen because you like people, and you like meeting them, and you'll have a few beers with them." Promoting one of the principle talking points of Brown's campaign, Steve Doocy claimed Brown's opponent, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, "has been, essentially, a rubber stamp for Barack Obama."
Attempting to contrast Brown's behavior during his time in Senate, Doocy offered, "When you were in the U.S. Senate, you were not a rubber stamp, an automatic rubber stamp for George Bush's policies." Brown was forced to correct Doocy's bungled talking point, noting he didn't serve while President Bush was in office.
It was a strange mistake from Doocy, who should be well-acquainted with Brown's time in the Senate, considering Fox & Friends and the rest of the network went all-out to help get him elected during his run for a Massachusetts Senate seat in 2009 and 2010 (including Doocy and his co-hosts playing with a Scott Brown action figure on-air):
When Brown lost his 2012 re-election bid, he was quickly hired by Fox News as a contributor. According to the network, he was going to bring his "out of the box thinking" to the airwaves. It quickly became clear that Brown and Fox News were mostly teaming up to help prep the next stage of his political career.
Potential 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says his Fox News platform is helping him in the crucial primary state of Iowa.
A Huckabee profile from Real Clear Politics (RCP) documents the Fox host's recent trip to Iowa to support Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst. According to reporter Scott Conroy, Huckabee was approached by several "Iowa Republican activists and volunteers" who told the Fox News host that they regularly watch his show.
Huckabee reportedly cited his platform at the network with helping put him in a "very good place to be" as he decides whether to throw his hat in the ring for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, explaining that it has helped increase his visibility and name recognition in Iowa because he has "been in these people's homes every week":
As a driver shuttled him between events, Huckabee told RealClearPolitics that his work on Fox has put him in a "very good place to be" politically as a self-imposed decision date looms in the early spring of next year.
"When I came up here eight years ago, nobody knew who I was," he said. "I had to spell my name. They didn't recognize me, and that was true all over the country. And now I come back, and I've been in these people's homes every week."
Huckabee isn't the first Fox employee/politician to credit their role at the network with helping their political aspirations. In July, former Fox News contributor turned Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown told Fox News Radio that being on the network "really charged me up" to run for office. When he was running for president in 2012, former Fox News contributor Rick Santorum pointed to his Fox role as having "been big" because it "helped folks remember who I am."
Fox continues to allow its employees to publicly weigh runs for office while remaining on the network payroll. As Conroy points out, Huckabee's Fox News show gives him "hundreds of hours of free advertising that hits some of the most reliable Republican voters," which is "the kind of media exposure that any of the more frequently talked about GOP contenders can only dream of."
During the run-up to the 2012 Republican primary in 2010, Media Matters calculated that Fox News had essentially gifted its five employees that were considering running with roughly $55 million in free advertising. Huckabee was by far the biggest beneficiary, with about $31 million worth of free airtime.
Though Huckabee declined to run in 2012, Conroy reports that "the consensus among many plugged-in conservatives in his orbit is that he is already determined" to enter the 2016 race.
Fox News contributor Allen West claims followers of the Islamic State are using the "progressive socialist tactic of 'trolls'" to harass members of the military.
In an October 9 post to his website, the former Republican congressman highlighted reporting from Fox News about Islamic State sympathizers harassing military personnel and their families online. According to West, the online supporters "learned" from progressives how to "flood a website or Facebook account with vile and insidious comments."
He continued, arguing that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) is using the "exact same tactics" as Media Matters and the progressive website Daily Kos:
It normally begins with some leftist central command, such as Media Matters or Daily Kos, to issue a call of attack -- and the mindless lemmings follow, normally completely devoid of any knowledge or understanding of a topic. It is the leftist progressive tactic of instilling fear, coercion and intimidation. And ISIS is following suit, using the exact same tactics.
As Media Matters explained when a Washington Post piece floated West as the new head of the Secret Service, West has a constantly expanding list of incendiary commentary, including:
Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow claims that the Obama administration is not taking forceful enough action to combat the Ebola crisis because the president may think "we should suffer along with less fortunate nations."
In an October 9 column for Fox News, Ablow looks to answer "Why Obama is allowing Ebolaphobia to spread." According to Ablow, the Obama administration and the CDC could help quell the public's fears about the virus, but have lacked the necessary "steady stewardship." Ablow prescribes implementing a travel ban on countries affected by the virus -- something many experts disagree with -- but thinks the president refuses to do so because "he sees himself as a citizen of the world and sees Americans as having infected others with our deadly economic policies for a long time, thereby inflicting untold suffering on developing nations," which would make it "profoundly unfair" for America to cut itself off from countries "we have preyed upon."
He continues, arguing that Obama "may literally believe we should suffer along with less fortunate nations":
I believe the president may literally believe we should suffer along with less fortunate nations. And if he does, that is a very dangerous psychological stance from which to confront Ebola.
Let me say this plainly, as a psychiatrist who has studied this president only from a distance: In order for President Obama to keep thinking of himself as the leader of the world -- and not just the free world -- it may be that our boundaries must remain porous, allowing illegal immigrants and, potentially, even diseases to flow through them.
Ablow concludes his column by suggesting that the president's refusal to believe in America's greatness is putting the country at risk of an Ebola outbreak:
The toll of having a president who seems to see America as having no particular manifest destiny may be seen in the spread of ISIS abroad. And it could be seen, God forbid, in not mounting a sufficient immune defense here at home, to Ebola. Saying so, even at the risk of offending some or many, is the first step (here taken) to make it not so.
Ablow regularly asserts that Obama hates the United States, claiming at various points that the president "wants America to dissolve"; that Obama does not have "Americanism in his soul"; and that "he's got it in for this country."
Ablow has also repeatedly engaged in lazy, bizarre psychoanalysis of the president. After Obama's 2013 State of the Union address, Ablow wrote that the speech was the "psychological projection of an abandoned boy's vision." (Ablow has cited the president's parents having "abandoned" him as the motivation behind numerous things the president has said and done.)
A columnist for conspiracy site WND asked whether the Obama administration has "orchestrated" Ebola and other crises in order to declare "martial law" and seize everyone's guns.
In recent weeks, conservative media figures have used the Ebola story to attack the Obama administration with twisted criticism, with radio host Michael Savage going so far as to suggest the administration was hoping to "infect the nation." Now Morgan Brittany, actress and host of conservative online show PolitiChicks, ponders in her WND column, "What If The Conspiracy Theories Are True?"
Writing about a dinner party she attended in "the heart of Los Angeles" with a crowd that "would never want to be thought of as conservative," Brittany describes how the attendees were skeptical of recent government statements about Ebola and other issues, and claimed "everything that has come out of Washington has been misleading or an out and out lie."
According to Brittany, the attendees questioned "Why is there no urgency to stop the disease from entering the U.S.?" She explains the conversation then "veered into conspiracy territory," including concerns about what Brittany called "$1 billion worth of disposable FEMA coffins":
Upon hearing this latest evidence of the incompetence permeating our government, the conversation veered into conspiracy territory. One of the men brought up the fact that Washington has known for months if not years that we were at risk for some sort of global pandemic. According to a government supplier of emergency products, the Disaster Assistance Response Team was told to be prepared to be activated in the month of October for an outbreak of Ebola. Hmm, that's just like the fact that they knew 60,000 illegal children were going to be coming across our southern border eight months before it happened.
Questions were then brought up about the stockpiling of ammunition and weapons by Homeland Security over the past couple of years and the $1 billion worth of disposable FEMA coffins supposedly stored in Georgia. Why was there preparation being made for FEMA camps to house people in isolation? These were the questions being seriously discussed.
For the record, the "disposable FEMA coffins" Brittany warns of "have nothing to do with FEMA or any other agency of the U.S. government, and they were around long before Barack Obama was first elected to the presidency of the U.S. in 2008." According to Snopes, a private company that sells plastic containers called grave liners stored the containers outdoors. An image of the containers circulated online and "gave rise to wild conspiracy theories" that have been circulating online for years.
Brittany concludes by lamenting how people have lost trust in government because of supposed dishonesty, which creates a situation where "theories begin to emerge about all sorts of things." She adds, "My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning," possibly so that "guns can be seized":
Recent polls show that there is a crisis of confidence among the people. When the people lose all trust in their government because of the lies they have been told over and over again, theories begin to emerge about all sorts of things. We desperately need someone to rebuild the trust and restore faith in this government. The damage that has been done is almost irreparable.
My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning. Who knows? Maybe the current administration needs this to happen so martial law can be declared, guns can be seized and the populace can be controlled. Once that happens ... game over.
Last month, Brittany was hosted on Fox & Friends to plug her new book, What Women Really Want.
WND has long been a cesspool of wild conspiracy theories. The site has for years led the charge claiming President Obama lacks an authentic birth certificate and has featured columns suggesting the 2012 shooting in Sandy Hook was staged.
Conservative activist Brent Bozell accuses Karl Rove of "ruining the GOP" in a new piece for Politico Magazine. The attack is the latest salvo in an ongoing war between Rove and numerous right-wing figures who consider him insufficiently conservative.
Bozell, who founded the conservative Media Research Center and chairs the conservative group ForAmerica, takes aim at Rove's recent advice for helping Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections. According to Bozell, "Rove has never cared about conservatism and has spent his entire career opposing any Republican who might be successful in promoting or implementing a conservative agenda."
He also claims Rove "kneecapped tea party candidates in 2010," and asserts, "It's now time conservatives make sure Karl Rove no longer has any influence on their party."
Bozell's anger at Rove and his attempt to quell his outsized influence in the GOP is nothing new. Last year, after the announcement of Rove's "Conservative Victory Project" -- a new political group that reportedly intended to "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts" -- Bozell and several other conservative activists wrote a letter discouraging donors from giving money to the new group. According to the letter, in the 2012 elections, Rove had "squandered hundreds of millions of dollars in what were arguably the most inept campaign advertising efforts ever."
And Bozell wasn't alone in recoiling at the formation of Conservative Victory Project. Other major conservatives, including several of Rove's Fox News colleagues, also called foul, labeling the group "absolutely repulsive" and calling Rove a "total loser" and a "propagandist." Whether it was due to conservative backlash or not, the group is seemingly defunct.
As Bozell's latest column indicates, conservative fury with Rove dates back years, including a number of acrimonious fights over people like Sarah Palin and former Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell. Conservative media figures have at various points called Rove "absolutely useless," "an effete sore loser," and someone with a "country club attitude."
As part of his attack on Rove, Bozell writes, "This is the same man Media Matters has dubbed the Republican 'voice of reason.'" While the 2011 piece in question does call Rove "Fox News' unlikely voice of reason," it's hardly complimentary of him. The point was that Rove -- whom the piece also labeled a "shameless political hack" with a "storied history of dishonesty" -- was standing out at Fox News for throwing cold water on "joke candidate" Donald Trump's non-existent 2012 presidential run while the rest of the network cheered him on, not that Rove was a fount of wisdom.
In 2013, after an aide to Rove's Crossroads groups called Bozell a "hater," numerous Bozell allies wrote a letter calling for the aide's firing, explaining that Bozell is William F. Buckley's nephew and "a beloved and critically important player in American history."
Weeks after appearing at a VIP dinner for the Koch brothers-backed political group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), George Will devoted his Washington Post column to promoting one of the Kochs' favored political candidates without disclosing the conflict of interest.
Last month, Politico reported on Will's attendance at a private dinner featuring an "exclusive group of major donors and VIPs" as part of AFP's Defending the American Dream summit. Despite repeated attempts by Media Matters, neither Will nor AFP would answer whether he had been paid for the appearance or compensated for his travel expenses. Will has repeatedly devoted column space in the past to promoting Koch-backed candidates and policy issues.
When the journalism group Society of Professional Journalists released its new Code of Ethics in September, the group's ethics chair cited Will's relationship with AFP -- and his refusal to disclose whether he had been paid by the group -- as the type of conflict journalists should try to avoid.
Apparently undeterred, in his September 26 column, Will sang the praises of Republican Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst -- a candidate who has received massive financial support from the Kochs and their political groups -- without disclosing his conflict of interest.
In his column, Will lamented that the contest between Ernst and Democratic challenger Bruce Braley "should not be this close." He dismissed Democrats' "War on Women" narrative and asserted that Braley "is as awkward as Ernst is ebullient when campaigning."
Pointing to spending by outside groups on Braley's behalf, Will classified the Iowa Democrat's "fretting about money in politics" as being "notably selective," and wrote that although "politics is an inherently transactional business," Braley is "operatically indignant about the Koch brothers."
Though Will runs cover for the Koch brothers' Iowa spending, their influence in the race is not so easily shrugged off.
This year, Americans for Prosperity has launched several ad campaigns targeting Braley in Iowa. The Des Moines Register reported earlier this month that another Koch-supported political group, Freedom Partners Action Fund, had also launched a "million-dollar TV ad campaign" targeting Braley.
According to Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein, in June, Ernst appeared at a "secretive conference" held by the Koch brothers, where she heaped praise on the assembled deep-pocketed attendees and credited "the exposure to this group and to this network" for having "really started my trajectory." Citing "figures provided by a Democratic tracker," Stein wrote that four different Koch-funded political groups had "blanketed the airwaves" in Iowa, to the tune of "roughly $3.4 million."
Stein added, "A few days after Ernst's appearance, Charles Koch, his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law each gave the Iowa candidate the legal maximum contribution of $2,600."
According to Reuters, right-wing media star Dinesh D'Souza "was sentenced on Tuesday to spend eight months in a community confinement center" as part of five years of probation for violating federal campaign finance laws.
In January, D'Souza was indicted for arranging excessive campaign contributions to the Senate campaign of his friend Wendy Long. After spending several months protesting the charges and claiming he was being unfairly targeted for his political beliefs, D'Souza pleaded guilty in May.
Reuters reports that a federal judge today declined to sentence D'Souza to jail time, opting for probation, time in a community confinement center, a fine, and community service:
The defendant, a frequent critic of President Barack Obama, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan. He was also given a $30,000 fine and ordered to do one day of community service a week during his probation.
D'Souza, 53, admitted in May to illegally reimbursing two 'straw donors' who donated $10,000 each to the unsuccessful 2012 U.S. Senate campaign in New York of Wendy Long, a Republican he had known since attending Dartmouth College in the early 1980s.
"It was a crazy idea, it was a bad idea," D'Souza told Berman before being sentenced. "I regret breaking the law."
Since being indicted 8 months ago, D'Souza has found steady support from his allies in the media and Congress, who decried the charges as everything from "stifling political dissent" to something that might happen in "Nazi Germany."
UPDATE: Dinesh D'Souza used his September 23 appearance on The Kelly File to resuscitate the myth that his indictment was political retribution. D'Souza described his reaction to his sentence to host Megyn Kelly, saying "I've got a big smile on my face now," because "this was really an effort to put me out of business...and a federal judge said 'no.'" D'Souza added, "There seems to be a pattern of this administration using the instruments of the law, the IRS, and so on to go after its critics." Despite D'Souza's recently announced sentence and his guilty plea to a felony, Kelly continued her longstanding support for the right-wing media darling, declaring "Only you, Dinesh, could walk away from this kind of an experience where you admit you committed a felony, you were facing 16 months in jail, and now the whole process has restored your faith in America, the judicial system and it's made you love the country even more":