On the day after the Senate primary in Illinois, Fox News continued its pattern of engaging in political advocacy, this time in support of Mark Kirk, the Republican nominee for the 2010 election for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat. During their February 3 coverage of the primary, Fox News repeatedly aired a National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) “attack ad” targeting Kirk's Democratic opponent, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, provided Kirk a platform to attack Giannoulias, and repeatedly offered favorable comparisons between Kirk and Scott Brown, the Republican victor in the special election for the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat who received similarly favorable treatment from Fox News prior to his election.
Fox News' communications arm kicks into gear following Illinois primary
Fox News repeatedly airs NRSC “attack ad.” During the February 3 broadcasts of Happening Now and America's Newsroom, Fox News aired a National Republican Senatorial Committee “attack ad” targeting Giannoulias. Introducing the attack ad on America's Newsroom, Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron said that the NRSC “welcomes the two nominees to the race with an attack ad on Giannoulias. Listen to how they're laying it out at the outset.” Later, on Happening Now, host Jane Skinner introduced the ad by noting that the GOP is “already tearing in” to Giannoulias.
Fox News interviews candidate Kirk, who attacks his opponent Giannoulias. Also during the February 3 broadcast of Happening Now, Jane Skinner provided Kirk a platform to attack his opponent, Alexi Giannoulias. Noting that Giannoulias was not present “to defend himself,” Skinner read a 2006 statement by Giannoulias “from when this came up in one of his previous races.”
Fox News anchors repeatedly liken Kirk to Scott Brown
Steve Doocy: “Some have suggested that Mr. Kirk could be the next Scott Brown.” During the February 3 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said of Kirk: “Some have suggested that Mr. Kirk could be the next Scott Brown.”
Carl Cameron invokes Brown's “Massachusetts miracle.” Also on Fox & Friends, Fox News' Carl Cameron noted that Kirk “was fond of saying” that the Illinois Senate seat he was vying for was not Barack Obama's seat, but the “people's seat. ... Folks will remember that line sort of borrowed from the Massachusetts miracle,” referring Scott Brown's election to the Senate." Cameron added that Kirk “is fiscally conservative, socially moderate, not unlike Scott Brown of Massachusetts.”
Cameron: GOP has “wind in their sails”; Kirk was “channeling” Brown. On America's Newsroom, Cameron said of Kirk's victory: “Republicans have wind in their sails and a ton of momentum coming out of Massachusetts. The Scott Brown victory two weeks ago yesterday was definitely on the minds here, and Mark Kirk ... had been leading in the polls and sort of channeling Scott Brown for the last couple of weeks.”
Jane Skinner: “GOP believes it has a chance...just like they did in Massachusetts.” During Happening Now, anchor Jane Skinner said of the Illinois Senate race: “The GOP believes it has a chance in this blue state, just like they did in Massachusetts, where Scott Brown won the seat that was formerly held by Ted Kennedy.”
Fox News campaigned, raised funds for Scott Brown, gave Brown forum to solicit campaign funds
On Fox, Brown encouraged viewers to visit his campaign website to find out “how to help with donating and volunteering.” As Media Matters for America has documented, in several Fox News appearances, Brown pointed viewers to his campaign website, solicited funds for his campaign, and also cited RedInvadesBlue.com, where, he said, “we have a money bomb right now that's hitting ... and you can help me fight back against the machine.”
“Political analyst” Morris: “Please, please help” Brown. During the January 11 edition of Hannity, Morris urged viewers to “go to DickMorris.com ... to help elect Brown,” because if “we win this fight, then there will never be another victory for Obama.” DickMorris.com includes a fundraising plea “to help us raise $300,000 for a last minute media buy to push Brown and the Republicans to victory”; Fox News executives allow Morris to solicit funds for Republican efforts despite reportedly telling colleague Mike Huckabee to cease conflict-of-interest promotions that help his political action committee.
Fox News is a conservative political organization
“Voice of the opposition”: Fox News openly advocates against Democratic Congress, White House. Since Barack Obama's inauguration, Fox News has frequently engaged in political advocacy against the Democratic Congress and White House. Specifically, Fox News personalities have promoted and encouraged viewers to “join” tea party protests, Glenn Beck's organization The 9-12 Project and its September 12, 2009, “March on Washington,” and town hall meetings; engaged in a witch hunt seeking to “get rid of” Obama administration officials and nominees; implored viewers to call Congress and the White House to protest Democratic policies; and celebrated “victor[ies]” when Democratic legislation has been stalled.
Research and communications arm: Fox News is home to GOP in exile. A revolving door exists between the Republican Party and Fox News Channel, with a number of former Bush administration officials, former and potentially future GOP presidential candidates, and Republican strategists on Fox's payroll and airwaves. A Media Matters review of Fox coverage from September 1, 2009 through October 25, 2009 revealed that these individuals, typically hosted alone or on unbalanced panels, often used their airtime to advance false and misleading claims about Democrats and progressives, as well as to fundraise, further demonstrating that Fox is effectively a conservative political organization and not a legitimate news outlet.