Continuing in the long tradition of prominent conservatives admitting that Fox News is just the house organ of the GOP, this morning former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum told Fox host Neil Cavuto that Republicans are better-equipped to "fight" because they now "have Fox News" to "get a message out."
While Santorum's admission is noteworthy in its own right, it takes on added significance due to fact that Santorum -- along with at least four of his fellow Fox employees -- is mentioned among potential candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
Clearly, one of the most important roles for Fox going forward will be to "fight" and "get the message out" for the eventual GOP presidential nominee. However, it remains to be seen how the network is going to handle its various employees using their network as a platform to position themselves for a presidential run.
And make no mistake, Santorum has been open about using his Fox platform to bolster a potential presidential run. In an interview with National Review Online last month about his surely not-coincidental increased presence in Iowa, Santorum told NRO's Katelynd Mahoney 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."
As we documented, from the beginning of the year through September 18, the various Fox candidates spoke through Fox News in at least 269 appearances on the network. In September, Sarah Palin advised then-candidate Christine O'Donnell to "speak to the American people. Speak through Fox News."
Last month, Fox contributor and fellow potential presidential candidate Mike Huckabee hosted former Fox News employee John Kasich to plug the latter's then-candidacy for Ohio governor. During the interview Huckabee stressed to viewers the "importance" of Ohio in the "national political landscape," and noted that Obama "knows if he loses the governor's office in Ohio - which is ground zero - he's in deep trouble for 2012."
Fox News doesn't appear to be concerned that its employees are using network resources to position themselves for possible presidential runs. And it remains to be seen how the network will deal with its employees transitioning from theoretical candidates to actual candidates.
From an October 31 Politico article titled "Next for GOP leaders: Stopping Palin":
Top Republicans in Washington and in the national GOP establishment say the 2010 campaign highlighted an urgent task that they will begin in earnest as soon as the elections are over: Stop Sarah Palin.
Interviews with advisers to the main 2012 presidential contenders and with other veteran Republican operatives make clear they see themselves on a common, if uncoordinated, mission of halting the momentum and credibility Palin gained with conservative activists by plunging so aggressively into this year's midterm campaigns.
There is rising expectation among GOP elites that Palin will probably run for president in 2012 and could win the Republican nomination, a prospect many of them regard as a disaster in waiting.
Top Republicans, from presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty to highly influential advisers such as Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, are said to be concerned she will run, and could win, according to the officials.
Rove, one of the few establishment types to raise flags publicly about a Palin bid, this week told Britain's Daily Telegraph that her upcoming reality show on cable TV could diminish her presidential standing. "I am not certain how this fits in the American calculus of 'that helps me see you in the Oval Office,'" Rove said.
Steele sounded a different note in a POLITICO interview: "I don't think that Sarah's too much worried about what Karl Rove's speculations are."
"If she runs, she runs right at the establishment," said a top adviser to a rival campaign. As witnessed in recent weeks, she would have powerful backup -- at least at the outset of a campaign -- among conservative media figures, especially Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.
Palin wouldn't be the only anti-establishment candidate. Mike Huckabee, who had the highest favorability ratings among the possible GOP candidates in a POLITICO/George Washington University poll in October, is a strong possibility and, according to a recent New York Times story by Peter Baker, is the White House favorite to win the nomination, for whatever that is worth. Huckabee and Palin have hit Rove for tweaking the tea party activists, and it's safe to assume voters will hear a lot more tweaking in the months to come. Newt Gingrich, who has raised more money than any other GOP hopeful, will compete for this space, too, and recently told a confidant he needs to show more self-discipline if he really wants to run and win.
In politics, hyperbolic language is the rule, not the exception.
Since Obama has taken office, conservative media figures have taken things to a ridiculous level. Civil war! Revolution! Death panels! Shariah law! Streets on fire!
The constant drumbeat of over-the-top rhetoric is exhausting, and it can be difficult to pinpoint comments deserving of closer attention. However, prominent conservative media figures -- including two who double as putative candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination -- have taken to invoking Armageddon. And I don't mean "Armageddon" in the metaphorical "the world is going to end if we pass health care" sense -- they are invoking actual Biblical Armageddon.
Yesterday, during a conversation with the conservative publication Newsmax, Sarah Palin engaged in the favorite conservative pastime of pushing for war with Middle Eastern countries and warned that allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons "is not just Israel's problem or America's problem, it is the world's problem. It could lead to an Armageddon. It could lead to that World War III that could decimate so much of this planet."
Clearly, Palin's invocation of "Armageddon" did not bother Fox News -- quite the opposite, in fact. They promoted her interview with Newsmax on Fox Nation, using her comment as the headline:
If you are unfamiliar with Iran and Israel's role in the (always) impending Armageddon, Pastor John Hagee can help explain. Back in June, Glenn Beck hosted Hagee on his Fox News show and labeled him one of the "brave preachers" that "need to start standing up." During that show, Beck plugged Hagee's "excellent" new book, Can America Survive? 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation, saying that he "just started to read last night."
New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino threatened a New York Post editor during what the Post called an "angry confrontation." Fox personalities have since praised Paladino for the altercation, calling him "refreshingly honest" and "iconoclastic," while criticizing the editor for being "unprofessional."
Last night, Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino and New York Post state editor Fredric Dicker got into what the Post called an "angry confrontation" -- a confrontation that concluded with the candidate threatening the reporter:
It started when Dicker asked Paladino if he had any proof of his shocking allegation that Democratic rival Andrew Cuomo cheated on his former wife during their marriage.
"What evidence do you have for something most people would consider a smear?" Dicker asked.
Instead of responding to Dicker's question, Paladino accused him of sending a "goon" to stake out his former mistress at the home where she lives with their love child.
Sunday's Post featured a front-page story about Paladino's wife, Cathy, and his ex-lover, Suzanne Brady. It included an exclusive interview with Cathy Paladino.
"You send another goon to my daughter's house and I'll take you out, buddy!" Paladino told Dicker.
When Dicker asked how he planned to do that, Paladino replied, "Watch!"
"Are you threatening me?" Dicker asked.
When the candidate's aides jumped in to separate the men, Paladino, referring to Dicker, told them, "F- -k him."
The fight put Fox News' right-wing employees in a tough position: Would they stand with their News Corp. colleague and say that Paladino was out of line? Or would they stand with the Republican Party's gubernatorial candidate?
For Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee, party solidarity beat out company loyalty.
Discussing the incident on Hannity, Huckabee commented that Dicker "stepped way over the line," adding: "No matter what Carl Paladino said to him that may have seemingly provoked him, it was his professional duty to remain detached and to remain objective. He failed to do that." He went on to criticize Dicker for having "injected himself into the story" and being "unprofessional" and "confrontational."
Huckabee also said of Paladino, "I've never met Carl Paladino but I'll be honest with you Sean, I'm getting where I really like this guy. I like him because he just, he says all the stuff I always wanted to say but never could get away with."
For his part, Hannity acknowledged that Dicker's original question -- what evidence Paladino had for his claim that Cuomo had cheated on his former wife -- "was a legitimate question." But he went on to say that Paladino has a "legitimate complaint" against the Post, adding, "I'm kind of enjoying that he's got the establishment off-balance, and they don't know how to deal with this guy cause he's so outspoken." Hannity did not say whether the Post reporter had a "legitimate complaint" against Paladino after being threatened by him.
Then again, given News Corp's support for the Republican Governor's Association, one could argue that Paladino is almost as close to being Hannity's and Huckabee's colleague as is Dicker.
From the 2010 Values Voters Summit:
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From the July 28 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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As Media Matters noted earlier this month, Fox News host Mike Huckabee was given "a shot at broadcast television with a talk show on some Fox affiliates."
Unfortunately for the former Arkansas Governor, the show doesn't appear to be doing too well. According to a report from Broadcasting & Cable:
Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's new talk show, which Fox is testing for six weeks this summer on seven stations, averaged a 0.6 rating/2 share in its Monday premiere. That's down 45% from its lead-in average of 1.1/4 and down 33% from its year-ago time period average.
As Huffington Post noted based on the Broadcasting & Cable report:
In some markets, the show drew 88% fewer viewers than its lead-in. The only market where "The Huckabee Show" outperformed its lead-in was Atlanta, B&C reports.
This morning, Fox News reporter Carl Cameron touted a recent survey by Public Policy Polling that found several prominent Republicans essentially tied with President Obama in theoretical 2012 match-ups. While Cameron found time to offer flattering descriptions of each of these "top Republicans," he neglected to mention that 75% of them are current Fox News employees.
Using a tag line Sarah Palin couldn't have scripted better herself, Cameron called her the "culture warrior tea party candidate." Palin was hired by Fox News in January, and since then has regularly appeared on various Fox News programs to not only attack the administration, but promote herself and other Republican candidates.
Cameron described Mike Huckabee as "the President of Iowa, having won its caucuses the last time and a social conservative." Huckabee also has a prominent platform as the host of a forthcoming Fox Television Stations group show, and a Fox News show, which he uses to attack the administration and promote his PAC and various GOP candidates around the country.
Newt Gingrich, whom Cameron described as the "big ideas guy in the GOP," has been a "political contributor" for Fox News since 1999. Like fellow potential 2012 potential candidates/Fox employees Palin and Huckabee, Gingrich uses his Fox News platform to promote himself and attack the administration. In a nice example of being able to do both at the same time, Gingrich recently appeared on Fox News Sunday to promote his latest book and claim that Dems are currently threatening America as much as "Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did."
Fox News president Roger Ailes recently claimed he's "not in politics anymore. I don't do politics, I do the news." Based on the actions of his network, Ailes doesn't see much difference between the two.
Add Greta Van Susteren name to the list of would be political candidates employed by Fox News. Though, in Van Susteren's case, she'd only run if she were guaranteed victory. How daring.
This according to an "Answer This…" interview of Van Susteren by Politico's Patrick Gavin:
What would you attempt to do if you knew that you could not fail?
Run for Governor of Wisconsin.
Van Susteren wouldn't have to look far for high-level campaign help if she did decide to run. John Coale -- her husband -- served as an adviser to Palin after the 2008 presidential campaign. As Media Matters noted just days ago:
As we've detailed, Coale said he started Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC, as well as a legal defense fund for her. SarahPAC, by the way, issued the Palin-centric video that Van Susteren was promoting on her show for the second night in a row during Gingrich's appearance.
While Van Susteren has denied any close ties with Palin, she has also repeatedly failed to disclose her husband's ties -- not while promoting the SarahPAC video last night, and not last November when she "hopped on the bus" with Palin as she was promoting her memoir.
For Fox News, Van Susteren is hardly the first employee to indicate an interest in public office:
Heck, even when they aren't running or indicating their interest in running for public office, it seems like Fox News employees keep themselves busy raising campaign cash and campaigning for Republicans:
Mike Huckabee again used his Fox News program to showcase a Republican candidate that he's also promoting through his political group Huck PAC. On his July 10 show, Huckabee hosted and touted Republican congressional candidate Star Parker, who's running for California's 37th Congressional District as a Republican. During his introduction of Parker, Huckabee said, "And by way of personal disclosure, Star is a friend, I've endorsed her, she's in the middle of a campaign. So I didn't want anyone to say, 'Oh, but you know Star.' Yes, I do, and I like her a lot."
Parker appeared on the program in a segment with "Democratic" pollster Pat Caddell and former Clinton administration official Lanny Davis to be, according to Huckabee, "as fair and balanced" as possible.
Huckabee, through his Huck PAC, released a statement in support of Parker on May 6, stating that she "is one of the most powerful communicators and debaters I've seen, and I can't wait to watch her deconstruct the liberal agenda live from the House floor." Parker has also been endorsed by Fox News contributors Sarah Palin and Karl Rove.
From the July 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the July 8 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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In 2000, an online movement of activists concerned with Dr. (Ph.D. in physiology not psychiatry) Laura Schlessinger's homophobic commentary organized an effort to get the controversial radio host's newly minted daytime television talk show pulled from the airwaves. According to StopDrLaura.com:
Over a ten-month period starting on March 1, 2000, this Web site galvanized thousands of activists across the US, Canada and beyond into an online juggernaut that forced Dr. Laura Schlessinger off television. In that short time, the pro-bono StopDrLaura.com registered over 50 million hits and 3 million visitors, while over 170 advertisers abandoned Dr. Laura's television show in the US and Canada, leading many to call the StopDrLaura.com campaign the first successful TV boycott in history (and winning it the Internet's prestigious "Golden Dot" award from George Washington University). Dr. Laura's TV show was finally canceled on March 30, 2001.
As Joe Strupp noted yesterday, Fox News host and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee " is getting a shot at broadcast television with a talk show on some Fox affiliates."
The Times reports: "'The Huckabee Show,' ... will have a preview run on weekdays for six weeks on some of the stations owned by the Fox Television Stations group, including WNYW in New York, KDFW in Dallas/Fort Worth, and WAGA in Atlanta. The preview, by the syndication unit of News Corporation, Twentieth Television, will begin on Monday, July 26."
Like Schlessinger, Huckabee is a regular offender when it comes to homophobic commentary. Just days ago Huckabee admitted he's opposed to gay marriage, in part, because of the "ick factor."
It remains to be seen whether grassroots activists will take to the internet as they did with Schlessinger to force The Huchabee Show's cancelation.
Here's just a sampling of Huckabee's most recent anti-gay commentary:
You can find more about Huckabee's record when it comes to LGBT issues, including his 1992 support for isolating people with HIV/AIDS away from the general population, right here.
We've noted before that Fox News has a number of potential 2012 GOP candidates on payroll including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senator Rick Santorum.
Having all these formers on staff certainly puts the right-wing cable news network in the drivers seat as the 2012 race for the Republican nomination begins to take shape in the coming year.
We noted in February that Palin was asked on Fox News Sunday to analyze the potential field and whether she'd be among those running. Well, Huckabee -- host of his own weekend Fox News program -- played the same role today on Fox News Sunday, offering his thoughts of the potential 2012 line-up and if he'd be a candidate.
Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee weighed in on the gamut of likely 2012 Republican presidential candidates during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." And while the Arkansas Republican offered diplomatic praise for his colleagues -- while candidly admitting that he too was thinking of mounting a bid -- his remarks stood out for their coldness to one: Mitt Romney.
As for his own candidacy:
"I haven't closed the door. I think that would be foolish on my part, especially when poll after poll shows there is a strong sentiment out there. I end up leading a lot of the polls. I'm the Republican that clearly at this point does better against Obama than any other Republican. I'm not totally unaware of that. But that is a long way from making a decision to run for president."