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:
Fox News contributor Scott Brown is renting out his email list to an outlet that touts shady products like Alzheimer's disease cures and Social Security tricks.
Brown joins several of his Republican colleagues in attempting to cash in on their followers through dubious or shady practices. Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich have all been renting out their email lists to suspect sources. As Salon's Alex Pareene noted, "the conservative movement is an elaborate moneymaking venture. For professional movement conservatives, their audiences and followers are easy marks."
Brown sent an email this morning with the subject line "5 Signs You'll Get Alzheimer's Disease" to his ScottBrown.com email list. Brown wrote in the email: "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 contains a pitch touting the "findings" of Dr. Russell Blaylock, and "Simple strategies and natural therapies to prevent, treat, and reverse memory loss, Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's, and other neurodegenerative disorders."
Blaylock, a repeat guest on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio show, has made numerous dubious medical claims through Newsmax and other far-right media outlets:
Brown has also sent an email pitching dubious financial offers.
From the February 4 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
Scott Brown has some more company among Fox News employees publicly toying with runs for political office while still working for the network.
According to The Washington Post, Fox host Mike Huckabee "might be willing" to take another shot at securing the Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee told the Post that he is considering making a run in 2016 due to the encouragement he is getting "from places where I never got it before," including "business, people some would maybe call the establishment."
In an apparent attempt to drive home his seriousness about a possible run, Huckabee reportedly showed the paper a private poll "which he said was commissioned by supporters who are urging him to run again, which indicated he has the potential to make a strong showing in both Iowa and South Carolina." Huckabee joins John Bolton, who started teasing a potential 2016 run early this year, and Scott Brown, who seems on the verge of running for a Senate seat in New Hampshire, as Fox employees cashing a paycheck while openly considering runs for office.
The revolving door of Republican politicians and Fox News contributors is nothing new.
As evidence grows that former Republican Senator Scott Brown is going to run for Senate in New Hampshire, he continues to cash a paycheck from Fox News, where he's currently employed as a contributor. Brown is just the latest in an ever-expanding roster of conservative Fox employees who have used a job at the network to set up a run for political office.
Fox hired Brown in February after his failed re-election bid for the Massachusetts Senate seat he won after the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy. The network had been perhaps his biggest champion during his successful 2010 senate run, allowing Brown to plug his fundraising website on-air while hosts and contributors fawned over him.
Since taking the Fox job, Brown has repeatedly dropped hints that he might consider challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in 2014. According to National Journal, while Republican leaders in the state previously dismissed Brown's supposed interest in running as a "fallen political star desperate for attention," they have "begun taking Brown seriously." Though he is scheduled to give a speech at the New Hampshire GOP's holiday fundraiser later this month, Brown continues to play coy about whether he has made up his mind about a run.
At Politico, media reporter Dylan Byers explains that the best indication of whether Brown is serious about running is whether Fox News severs his contract, as they did in 2011 when former employees Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were in the early stages of mounting presidential bids. (More recently, Fox terminated former contributor Liz Cheney's contract when she formally announced her run for the Senate in Wyoming.)
Until such time as Fox ends his contract, Brown will operate in an ethically dubious grey area. It benefits him to delay a formal declaration of any kind so that he can continue to utilize his Fox platform, while both Brown and the network reap rewards from the related "will he or won't he" attention. As Byers explains, "you can rest assured that he'll use the Fox News platform to prove his conservative bonafides to Granite State voters." And in recent weeks, Brown has done just that.
From the June 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the April 14 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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Fox News contributor Scott Brown reportedly said he's not "done with politics" and refused to rule out running for New Hampshire's U.S. Senate seat in 2014. Brown has followed the well-trodden path of other Fox-favored politicians by signing with the conservative network, which has afforded him a paycheck and a national platform while allowing him to consider future runs for political office.
Since signing with Fox News in February, Brown has been a regular presence across the network and Fox Business. His most high-profile stint came on April 1, when he guest hosted The O'Reilly Factor and delivered an opening commentary built off of a Republican press release.
Brown reportedly told media gathered at a New Hampshire non-profit event yesterday, "I don't think I'm done with politics." When asked if he is considering running for office in New Hampshire, Brown -- who owns a home in New Hampshire -- replied: "I'm not going to rule out anything right now, because I really haven't thought a heck of a lot about it."
While Brown reportedly said yesterday he won't rule out "anything right now" in New Hampshire, he appeared to take a different approach last month. When asked during a March 11 press conference if he would "rule out any sort of political race in New Hampshire," Brown replied: "Yeah, it's something I read about actually and was a little bit surprised about. Certainly my mom lives there, my sister lives there, I have a house there, and I have a lot of good feelings about New Hampshire. But Massachusetts is my home, and if I do anything in the future, it'll most likely be in Massachusetts."
Brown has also recently said that he's "thinking about" running for Massachusetts governor next year, telling a local Fox affiliate in February: "Of course I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about a lot of different thing. But right now the best thing I can do for myself and for my peace of mind and I think for the people of Massachusetts is just to hang tight and recharge and be active." A report in the Boston Globe last month indicated such a run isn't likely for Brown.
One of Scott Brown's first acts as a Fox News host was to build a segment entirely around a GOP press release, a continuation of Fox's long history of using Republican talking points to build their news.
Brown, a Republican former Senator, served as guest host on the April 1 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, where he immediately focused on the National Republican Congressional Committee's "waste list," meant to detail areas of government's continued wasteful spending despite recent spending cuts and the closing of White House tours. Brown complained about a "dancing iPhone with robots," "snail sex research," and $1 million worth of puppet shows for kids.
Much of the spending detailed in the release was actually spent before the sequestration cuts went into effect, but that fact didn't make it into the No Spin Zone under Brown's watch.
Fox News contributor Scott Brown announced today that he has joined Nixon Peabody LLP as "counsel in the firm's Boston office."* According to the firm's press release, Brown, a former Republican senator from Massachusetts, will "focus his practice on business and governmental affairs as they relate to the financial services industry as well as on commercial real estate matters."
Nixon Peabody was paid over $2.5 million to lobby Congress from 2011-12. The group's top lobbying clients include the Council on Affordable Housing & Rural Development, Sallie Mae, the Monroe County Water Authority, Wegmans Food Markets, and Goldman Sachs.
From the February 14 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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