As Mitt Romney is reportedly considering a third presidential run, several conservative media figures are calling foul, labeling the idea "too stupid" and suggesting another Romney bid would be "preposterous."
After repeatedly claiming he was done with running for president, last Friday Romney apparently reversed course, telling a group of Republican donors in New York City, "I want to be president." Since then, Romney's team has reportedly been working "to reassemble his national political network."
As part of his efforts to kickstart another run, Romney reportedly reached out to several conservative media figures.
According to The Washington Post, he recently invited Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham to his ski home to discuss "politics and policy," and also made phone calls to CNN analyst Newt Gingrich and Fox News contributor Scott Brown. In a subsequent appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Ingraham initially told viewers that between Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Romney, her support would "probably be a tie between Romney and Walker." Pressed by O'Reilly, she added, "I'll just say Romney because he's been through the grist mill before." (Ingraham explained that Romney had made her and her daughter "cocoa and soup" when she visited his ski house.)
During an appearance on Fox News' Your World, Brown said that when Romney recently called him, "I encouraged Mitt to run." Brown told Fox News viewers that Romney "was right" on a variety of issues and that he "absolutely" wants Romney to join the race.
But not everyone in the conservative movement is as supportive.
In an article for the New York Times, reporter Jonathan Martin writes that despite the "excitement among his loyalists in the Republican donor class" for another Romney run, "interviews with more than two dozen Republican activists, elected officials and contributors around the country reveal little appetite for another Romney candidacy."
Romney also faces a hurdle in several prominent conservative media figures and outlets that are less than enthusiastic about the idea of another Romney run.
From the December 29 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
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Former U.S. Senator Scott Brown, who lost his comeback bid to New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, is reportedly rejoining Fox News as a contributor. Fox's decision to rehire Brown comes after the network served as a launching pad for Brown's political return, and attempted to assist his failed New Hampshire campaign with fawning coverage.
The Boston Herald reported that Brown "is rejoining Fox News as a contributor" and "will make his first appearance Tuesday as the 'One Lucky Guy' on 'Outnumbered' (noon-1 p.m. weekdays), Fox News has confirmed."
The network spent significant time boosting Brown's only successful Senate run (in Massachusetts' 2010 race) -- during one segment, Fox hosts even played with a Scott Brown action figure. Fox first hired Brown after he lost his 2012 re-election bid.
Brown then used his Fox employment to collect a paycheck ($136,538) and position himself for another run for office, this time in New Hampshire. His Fox commentary sounded like campaign stump speeches, and he touted his ties to the state, claiming he had "long and strong ties to New Hampshire, you know, going back generations." Brown even credited his Fox employment for motivating him to run for office the third time, stating that "being on Fox ... really charged me up to get involved again."
When Brown finally became an official candidate in 2014 and formally left the network, Fox News still tried its hardest to bring him to victory. It aired an anti-Obamacare documentary that was so flattering to Brown that the campaign repeatedly screened it for voters. Fox hosts also parroted Brown campaign talking points, attacking his opponent Shaheen as "a rubber stamp for Barack Obama." One Fox host even got the talking points confused, praising Brown -- who was elected in 2010 -- as an independent who was "not a rubber stamp, an automatic rubber stamp for George Bush's policies."
Fox News has had no problem rehiring Republican contributors who left the network but failed in their political bids. Recent examples include Liz Cheney, who dropped out of her Wyoming Senate primary run; Angela McGlowan, who lost a Mississippi congressional primary; and Pete Snyder, who was unsuccessful in his primary bid for Virginia lieutenant governor.
Democratic New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is eligible for reelection in 2016 and may choose to run for the U.S. Senate, potentially setting up another round of Fox's ethically-challenged employment of Brown.
Fox News proved that love is blind in its latest interview with former Fox employee and current Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown.
With less than a week before the 2014 midterm elections, Brown was welcomed on the set of Fox & Friends with no disclosure of his prior affiliation with the network. Instead, hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade praised Brown for "doing really well" in the polls and getting "within two points" of Shaheen. Kilmeade added: "I think both sides are saying you're one of the finest politicians they've seen because you like people."
Fox's softball questions didn't attempt to delve into Brown's platform, instead echoing Brown's own attacks on Shaheen's voting record. Doocy mistakenly congratulated Brown, who was elected Massachusetts Senator during Obama's presidency in 2010, for having an independent record under the Bush administration and claimed that, unlike Brown, Shaheen has served as a "rubber stamp" for her party's policies:
DOOCY: You just touched on something. When you were in the U.S. Senate you were not a rubber stamp, an automatic rubber stamp for George Bush's policies. However, you've been very effective in this particular senate race. Jean Shaheen has been a rubber stamp for President Obama.
BROWN: I was there with President Obama, not with President Bush, but that is correct, I was the most independent senator in the United States Senate. Senator Shaheen is the most partisan. So, we need to change direction.
Doocy failed to mention that his line about Shaheen being a "rubber stamp for President Obama" comes directly from the Brown campaign. During an October 6 debate Brown said, "You will have a clear choice, someone who is rubber stamping for the president's policies or someone who will be independent on the issues." Brown's "rubber stamp" attack has also been echoed by the Republican National Committee on Brown's behalf.
Fox has a long history of working to boost the electoral prospects of its former employees and has given Brown a particularly cozy platform to promote his campaigns. While Brown was still employed at Fox, its hosts repeatedly asked him whether he planned to run again, calling it a "terrific" idea. Brown has also said that his time at Fox "really charged me up to" run. Since his primary victory in New Hampshire, the network has repeatedly offered him free airtime to attack Shaheen.
Fox News celebrated the Senate primary win of former Fox News contributor Scott Brown by offering him over four minutes of free air time to attack his Democratic opponent and promote his campaign without disclosing his previous affiliation with the network.
Brown clinched the Republican nomination for New Hampshire's Senate seat on September 9 and will now face Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen in the general election. He previously served as a senator for Massachusetts before losing to Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2012, and he was hired by Fox News in 2013.
On the September 10 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade told Brown "I wasn't surprised that you won" and lobbed a series of softball questions at him that underlined how Brown had beaten expectations and pushed a message that "resonated" with voters. Kilmeade also vouched for Brown's work ethic, saying "I know when it comes to the endurance, no one is going to outwork you." At the end of the segment, Fox gave Brown a platform to plug his campaign website:
BROWN: People can go to ScottBrown.com. Let's go make Harry Reid the minority leader. Need your help. Thank you.
During Brown's last run for the Senate, the network gave his campaign fawning coverage and repeatedly offered him a platform to promote his views and directed viewers to his website for information on "how to help with donating and volunteering." Fox News contributors pleaded with viewers go online to "help elect" him and pushed arguments like "your 401(k) could do well" if Brown won. Fox hosts even played with a Scott Brown action figure during one segment.
Brown then spent over a year building his profile as a paid Fox contributor, during which time he attacked Shaheen and Senate Democrats over health care and burnished his New Hampshire bona fides after moving there. While Brown was employed at the network, Fox hosts repeatedly asked Brown if he planned to run again and even called it a "terrific" idea. Brown has said that working at Fox "really charged me up to" run for office again.
The network continued to help Brown during his New Hampshire primary. In August, the network aired an anti-Obamacare documentary tailor-made to boost Brown's campaign. Former Sen. Bob Smith, one of Brown's Republican primary opponents, criticized Fox's pro-Brown coverage as "shoddy" and "not fair and balanced."
Other former Fox News employees have benefited from favorable treatment during their runs for office. For instance, Rick Santorum said during his presidential campaign that his former job with Fox had "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."
A Fox News report failed to disclose that an anti-Obamacare doctor featured objecting to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is running for state representative as a Republican in New Hampshire.
Continuing Fox's campaign to boost anti-Obama candidates in New Hampshire, including former Fox contributor Scott Brown, an August 8 Special Report segment highlighted the story of Dr. Joe Hannon, who was purportedly driven out of practice due to the ACA. During an interview with Fox, Dr. Hannon claimed, "The health care act was the final nail in the coffin. It wasn't the main reason or the only reason, but it made the decision a lot easier for me."
From the August 8 edition of Fox News' Fox News Reporting: Live Free or Die: Obamacare in New Hampshire:
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An upcoming Fox News special report promises to expose Obamacare problems in New Hampshire, where the network's former contributor Scott Brown is running for U.S. Senate. The special will feature an interview with Brown, who has declared that "Obamacare isn't working" and called the law a "monstrosity."
Airing the night of August 8, "Live Free or Die: Obamacare in New Hampshire" promises to chronicle the effect of the Affordable Care Act on New Hampshire residents, such as a doctor who retired rather than deal with health care reform and a "lesbian [who] opts out of Obamacare, questioning why she should pay for reproductive care she doesn't want or need."
Why the focus on New Hampshire? According to the network, in part because the state is "where this year's election will be key to determining which party controls the Senate." This appears to be the first time Fox has run a special focused on a single state since at least 2012.
Brown himself will participate in the special and promoted it earlier today, tweeting:
Fox is intimately involved with the New Hampshire Senate race, as its former contributor is seeking to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Brown began teasing his candidacy while still receiving a paycheck from Fox, and recently credited his role on the network with inspiring his campaign for Senate.
From the start, Brown has focused his campaign on his opposition to Obamacare. His website states that the "people of New Hampshire take pride in individual liberty and freedom. Obamacare demolishes both." He went on an "Obamacare isn't Working" tour and has repeatedly criticized his opponent for voting in favor of the law, which he deemed a "monstrosity" in need of repeal.
From the April 4 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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Fox News finally terminated the contract of contributor Scott Brown after Brown told the network he is planning a New Hampshire Senate run. The move follows months of speculation about a possible run by Brown, a topic that was repeatedly raised during his appearances on the network.
Brown tweeted today that he "enjoyed being a part of the Fox family. Their analysis & insight has helped hold politicians accountable for their actions ... especially on ObamaCare. I am extremely grateful to everyone at Fox for their friendship, & wish them all the best moving forward."
It became clear shortly after Brown was hired by Fox in 2013 that he was planning to use the network as a springboard to the next stage of his political career. And Fox was more than happy to play along.
The network gave Brown an online column, which he used to write columns with headlines like "Time to hold Democrats in Congress responsible for the mess they created." Fox also let him practice stump speeches, plug his New Hampshire bona fides, discuss the need for Republicans to win back the Senate, and attack his possible opponent on-air.
Below are five segments that show the farcical nature of Brown's job as a "Fox News contributor."
UPDATE 2 (3/14/14): Brown's Fox News contract was "officially terminated" on March 14 as a result of his run for office, according to executive vice president Bill Shine.
UPDATE: The Associated Press is now reporting that according to "several" New Hampshire Republicans, Brown "is expected to launch an exploratory committee to enter the race as soon as Friday." Fox News previously suspended the contracts of then-contributors Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum when they took steps toward forming exploratory committees.
Media Matters president Bradley Beychok issued the following statement in response to the AP report:
"Fox News should immediately suspend Scott Brown's contract. The network set this standard. To use their own words: taking steps to form an exploratory committee is a 'clear conflict.' So, what is Roger Ailes waiting for?"
The Associated Press is reporting that Fox News contributor Scott Brown's camp "has quietly begun offering paid positions to Republican operatives for a prospective New Hampshire campaign." Fox News, which previously said it would suspend a contributor's contract if they show a "serious intention" to run for office, should suspend Brown's contract until he finally decides.
The AP report added that "Several people involved in the discussions believe that Brown has decided to run, but there remains a healthy dose of skepticism given the former Republican senator's recent track record." CNN similarly reported on March 9 that "a number of GOP sources in New Hampshire report receiving calls in recent days from Brown or his top allies, and there's word from GOP operatives that there are conversations about building a Senate campaign staff"; CNN also wrote that activists said they won't believe Brown is running until he "makes a public statement or files candidacy papers." Fox News host Greta Van Susteren tweeted last month she was told it is "certain" that Brown is going to run.
Fox News hired Brown in 2013 after previously boosting his Massachusetts Senate campaign with fawning coverage (during one segment, Fox hosts played with a Scott Brown action figure). Fox re-signed him to a contract last month.
Brown's status as both a potential candidate and Fox News political analyst has led to embarrassing segments for the news channel.
One recent appearance was devoted to a discussion of how Brown looked shirtless. In another, Brown attacked potential opponent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Senate Democrats over health care. He also touted his New Hampshire bona fides by boasting about how he's been a resident there for "a couple of months." Brown's last Fox appearance was on the March 7 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, where he said "the first order of business is to take over the Senate in '14 and retain the House in '14." He has also published FoxNews.com columns that sound like stump speeches -- headlines include, "GOP can once again lead as the party of fiscal responsibility" and "Time to hold Democrats in Congress responsible for the mess they created."
Fox News host Howard Kurtz noted the benefits of Republicans delaying their intention to announce campaign runs, writing: "The longer candidates stay in the Fox camp, the longer they can utilize the platform of the country's top-rated cable news channel--and pad their bank accounts to boot."
Former Republican Senator Scott Brown's latest appearance as a Fox News contributor exemplified the ethically murky middle ground between being a potential political candidate and a news commentator.
Since his initial hiring by Fox News in 2013, there has been widespread speculation that Brown would return to politics and mount a run for Democrat Jeanne Shaheen's Senate seat in New Hampshire. Both Brown and Fox have mutually benefited from the publicity surrounding his potential run, and have discussed his possible candidacy during his appearances on the network (including his first appearance on-air after renewing his contract last month).
If Brown wants to keep his contributor status, he needs to walk the tightrope of repeatedly toying with the idea of running while not actually taking formal steps to declare his candidacy (in the past, Fox has severed the contracts of contributors once they have filed the requisite paperwork).
Earlier this week, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren tweeted that she was told it is "certain" that Brown is going to run, prompting Brown to deny the report, telling Politico, "I will make my decisions in due course."
As Brown continues to delay his decision, Fox News is happy to help bolster their employee's potential candidacy. Brown sounded like a candidate today during an appearance on Your World with Neil Cavuto, where he attacked Shaheen and Senate Democrats. He also attempted to prove his New Hampshire bona fides in the wake of carpetbagger criticism.
Cavuto wondered whether Obamacare would be Brown's "issue" if he chose to run, prompting Brown to reply that "it's no secret" he's thinking of getting into the race before launching into speech about "dysfunctional" Washington and how we "need to fix it."
Cavuto raised the attacks on Brown as a possible "carpetbagger" were he to run in New Hampshire, since he was previously senator in Massachusetts. Brown called the attacks "laughable," adding "people know that I have long and strong ties to New Hampshire, you know, going back generations" and explaining he has been a resident for "a couple of months."
Brown then turned to the "real issue," which was attacking his possible opponent Jeanne Shaheen for joining Democrats in having "rammed" health care reform through Congress.
Pressed by Cavuto for when he planned to make his decision -- and whether he would make any announcement on Cavuto's show -- Brown was coy as usual, explaining that "I'll make an announcement sooner rather than later."
In the meantime, Fox is willing to hand him a paycheck while he practices potential stump speeches.
In his first appearance after signing a new contract with Fox News, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown again suggested that he may run for Senate later this year, raising more questions about the journalistic ethics of Fox keeping him on the payroll.
In a February 20 appearance on Fox & Friends, Brown discussed several Senate races currently underway. Co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck then asked him, "When are we going to see your name on one of these races in the future? Coming up? For Senate?" Brown replied, "I'm obviously taking things into consideration, I'm going to make some decisions and we'll see what happens."
For the past year, Brown has used his role at Fox News to keep himself in the spotlight in this fashion while he ponders a run for the Senate in New Hampshire. Brown has repeatedly stoked such speculation, relocating to New Hampshire, speaking at GOP events in the state, and teasing a new website with a campaign-ready slogan. Brown also made two appearances in Iowa last year and has a third planned for April, driving speculation that he may run for president in 2016.
Fox News has reportedly said Brown's contract would be terminated if he "authorized an exploratory committee to be formed for a run." According to Politico media reporter Dylan Byers, until that step is taken, Brown will continue to "use the Fox News platform to prove his conservative bonafides to Granite State voters." On February 19, Fox announced that they had signed Brown to a new contract, allowing him to retain that platform.
Fox has been a big booster for Brown, both during his successful 2010 Senate run and as he considers a 2016 race. During his February 20 appearance, Fox aired video of Brown singing with the band Cheap Trick at a recent concert and asked the former senator to comment.
Update: After bizarre series of events, Brown has reportedly renewed his contract with the network. Though a Fox spokeswoman told the Boston Globe Brown was "currently out of contract," Brown responded this morning by telling the Washington Post that report was actually inaccurate. The Post now has a statement from Fox executive Bill Shine saying their previous agreement merely expired last week and the end of Brown's contract was "purely administrative."
Brown is now free to resume using the network to help bolster his political future (Brown has also invited speculation that he'll run for president in 2016). According to the Post, he will appear on Fox & Friends tomorrow.
After using the platform for the past year to help revive his political career, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is "currently out of contract" with Fox News.
A Fox spokesperson told the Boston Globe yesterday that Brown is no longer under contract, but declined to say whether the move was due to Brown exiting in order to run for Senate in New Hampshire or if his contract had merely expired.
The Globe reports that in December, the network said that Brown's contract would be terminated if he "authorized an exploratory committee to be formed for a run." Fox News has previously been happy to keep employees that were publicly considering political runs under contract indefinitely, like perennial will-they-or-won't-they quasi-candidates Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. Though Brown has repeatedly stoked speculation that he might challenge Democrat Jeanne Shaheen for her Senate seat -- including relocating to New Hampshire, speaking at GOP events in the state, and teasing a new website with a campaign-ready slogan -- he has yet to take any formal steps towards mounting a run, so his exit from Fox comes as something of a surprise.
During his last Fox appearance, Brown joined Lou Dobbs on his Fox Business show on February 10, spending several minutes railing against the current state of Congress and the government. Near the end of the conversation, Dobbs awkwardly transitioned to ask, "what's new in New Hampshire?" Brown responded that he and his family "love it. It's obviously a wonderful state." He added, "We'll see, I have a lot of decisions to make, and you've just nailed it in terms of what the issues are, and it's very frustrating. And I think you need good people down there, we'll just see who it is." Dobbs closed the segment by telling Brown, "the country is watching, and I know New Hampshire is."
Brown's last two columns for FoxNews.com read a lot like stump speeches. In a column published on February 12, he announced, "we get to replace the members of Congress in 2014 that have been enabling the president's unpopular agenda." His February 14 column -- headlined "GOP can once again lead as the part of fiscal responsibility" -- highlighted that "21 Democratic-held Senate seats are up for grabs" in November and touted how "Republicans of all political stripes share a commitment to fiscal responsibility and less government spending."
Regardless of whether he actually runs for Senate in New Hampshire, Brown's relationship with Fox News is symptomatic of the network's central role in Republican politics.
Fox News contributor Scott Brown was forced to end his financial relationship with Newsmax after he sent a sponsored email to his list touting dubious Alzheimer's disease cures from huckster Dr. Russell Blaylock. Brown is one of several conservative media outlets and personalities -- including his Fox News colleague Mike Huckabee and conservative magazine National Review -- that have helped sell out their followers to Blaylock in recent years.
Brown sent an email today to his list stating: "Dear Patriot, I thought you might be interested in the offer below from our sponsor Newsmax Health. Thank you, Senator Scott Brown." Brown's email (subject line: "5 Signs You'll Get Alzheimer's Disease") contained a pitch claiming that Blaylock found "Simple strategies and natural therapies to prevent, treat, and reverse memory loss, Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's, and other neurodegenerative disorders."
Blaylock has pushed numerous dubious claims on a wide range of medical subjects. He is a repeat guest on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio show, where videos of his appearances feature such headlines as "Dr. Russell Blaylock Exposes Obama's Nazi Healthcare System," "Obamacare is Mandated Social Engineering," and "Fluoride's Deadly Secret."
In recent years, several prominent conservative outlets and personalities have sent emails to their followers touting Blaylock and his dubious medicine: