Right-Wing Media Get Their Senate Candidate In Nebraska

Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

The conservative media got their candidate with the election of former Bush administration official Ben Sasse in Nebraska's Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Sasse was endorsed by Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, and Erick Erickson, and has been prominently featured on Fox News and in National Review.

Sasse's win capped a bruising primary between him and fellow Republicans Shane Osborn and Sid Dinsdale. Politico noted there was "back-and-forth mudslinging" over conservative credentials even though there "are no clear ideological differences between the candidates, and the 'establishment' and 'tea party' labels associated with the candidates are fuzzy."

Allies of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a coalition of Nebraska activists supported Osburn, while outside national groups such as FreedomWorks, Tea Party Express, Family Research Council, and Senate Conservatives Fund backed Sasse.

Some of Sasse's biggest boosters were in the conservative media. National Review featured the Nebraskan on the cover of its January 27 issue, calling him a "health-care expert" and "rising conservative star." The Sasse campaign frequently touted the cover on the campaign, and promoted it in a campaign ad:

Fox News repeatedly promoted the Sasse campaign after it released a March Madness-themed competition featuring a bracket of 64 alleged Constitutional violations by the Obama administration. Fox & Friends hosted Sasse and featured his bracket competition on its program for several days. During these promotions, Fox News directed viewers to the Sasse-operated constitutionalmadness.com. Website visitors were greeted with a contribute button and were signed up to the campaign's mailing list after completing their picks -- Media Matters received fundraising emails after completing the bracket. (Fox & Friends eventually stopped crediting Sasse for the idea and instead began plagiarizing the idea for itself.)

The Nebraskan also received endorsements from conservatives such as Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, who encouraged readers to give Sasse "every penny you can muster. National Review has declared him the next big thing. He's considered an intellectual heavyweight on healthcare. He is opposed to Obamacare and pledges to fight for its full repeal. He is a committed, pro-life conservative." Fox News contributor Sarah Palin campaigned for Sasse in Nebraska, and radio host Mark Levin called him "an outstanding candidate, a solid conservative, a constitutionalist."

Sasse's website makes clear he appreciates his close ties to right-wing media. His endorsements page touts testimonials from National Review, Levin, Erickson, and Palin. His media section prominently features video of him appearing on Glenn Beck's program. 

Posted In
Fox News Channel, National Review
Mark Levin, Erick Erickson, Sarah Palin
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