Fox News continues to find new ethical lines to cross during this election cycle.
Yesterday morning, the Karl Rove-backed super PAC American Crossroads released an ad attacking President Obama as the “celebrity president.” During an appearance this morning on America's Newsroom Republican strategist Brad Blakeman labeled the ad a “success” because “Karl has gotten more earned media than the amount he invested in the ad.” This is due, in no small part, to the help of Rove's colleagues at Fox News.
Fox News, which employs Rove as a political analyst, has been aggressively promoting the ad online and on the air, often without noting Rove's connection to either American Crossroads or Fox News. Rove's “celebrity” ad has been discussed on seven separate Fox News programs. Fox Newsers have called the ad a “bombshell,” “fabulous” and “the most effective anti-Obama ad I have seen.” Rove himself appeared on Fox's top-rated program, The O'Reilly Factor, to discuss the ad and promote its message.
Here's a look at how Fox News has aggressively promoted Rove's ad following its April 26 release.
4/26 8:30 A.M. Fox Nation: “Celebrity Obama Crushed By Rove Ad”
Shortly before 8:30 a.m. ET, Fox Nation promoted the newly-released ad with the headline “Celebrity Obama Crushed By Rove Ad”:
Later in the day, the ad was moved to the top position on Fox Nation with same headline:
A day later, the ad is still featured on the site, but with the slightly different headline,“Celebrity Obama Attacked By Rove Ad.”
4/26 5:15 P.M. The Five Runs Ad, Perino Calls It “Effective”
After playing most of the ad, in front of a large banner of Obama labeled “President Cool,” the panel on The Five discussed its effectiveness. Fox News contributor Dana Perino, who served with Rove in the Bush White House, labeled the ad “effective” and urged viewers to “go on and finish watching the rest of that ad because it then juxtaposes what is actually happening right now about unemployment, student loans, health care, all the other stuff that makes it not so cool to be cool.” Perino later said that the ad was “funny” and “fabulous.”
Andrea Tantaros described the video's background only by saying that it had been “released by the conservative Super PAC, American Crossroads.” Bob Beckel, who defended Obama, later clarified, “that was brought to you by Karl Rove Crossroads, just so we keep this clear.”
4/26 6 P.M. Hour. Special Report Runs Two Segments Mentioning Ad, Does Not Disclose Rove Ties
During a report on the presidential race for Fox's flagship news program Special Report, reporter Carl Cameron introduced a clip of the ad by saying: “To counter Obama's youth appeal, the GOP Super PAC Crossroads GPS dropped a video suggesting the cool president has not helped college kids find jobs.”
Later in the program, Special Report anchor Bret Baier ran video (but no audio) of the ad and asked the program's “All-Star Panel” about its effectiveness. Fox contributor Tucker Carlson named it “the most effective anti-Obama ad I have seen.”
Rove's involvement with American Crossroads (and Rove's connection to Fox News) was not disclosed during either segment.
4/26 8:15 P.M. The O'Reilly Factor Plays Ad, Hosts Rove To Discuss Its Message
During The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly hosted Rove to discuss the ad. After airing most of it, O'Reilly said that it is “aimed at younger voters, obviously saying that you were sold a bill of goods, it didn't happen. That's where you are going with that.” Rove responded, “yeah, good, I'm glad you got the message,” which prompted O'Reilly to declare that “if I got it, everybody got it.”
4/26 9:00 P.M. Hannity Leads Show By Running Ad, Praises It For “Hitting Hard”
Sean Hannity led his Fox program by saying that people who sent Obama to the White House to “lower your gas prices” and “create jobs” must be disappointed, because instead of an “anointed one,” they elected a “celebrity president” that is “more interested in hanging out with U2 and fundraising with George Clooney and performing with The Roots on Jimmy Fallon's show.”
Hannity declared that this “sad fact has not been lost at the people over at American Crossroads” and proceeded to play the entire ad above a chyron reading “The Celebrity President.”
After running the video, Hannity said he “like[d] the fact” that Republicans are “hitting hard. It's obvious to me the Republicans are here to play ball.” Fox News host Eric Bolling responded that Crossroads “is right” about Obama.
Karl Rove's connection to American Crossroads was not mentioned.
4/27 5:35 A.M. Fox & Friends First Promotes “Bombshell Ad By American Crossroads”
This morning on Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Nauert introduced the “bombshell ad by American Crossroads.” After running the entire ad, they aired a clip of Rove discussing its message on The O'Reilly Factor the previous night.
The Fox & Friends First segment illustrates the echo chamber Fox has built. The segment consists of a Fox show replaying video of a Fox employee appearing on a separate Fox program to promote an anti-Obama ad his Super PAC released.
4/27 8:15 A.M. Fox & Friends Hypes “Bombshell Ad”
Fox & Friends aired a clip of the Crossroads ad, with co-host Brian Kilmeade echoing Nauert's earlier description of it as a “bombshell ad.”
Rove's connection to Crossroads and Fox was not disclosed.
4/27 10:15 A.M. America's Newsroom Promotes “Very Good” Ad
Fox “straight news” program America's Newsroom aired the entire ad. Anchor Martha MacCallum kicked off the conversation with the panel by saying, “at the end of all that cool stuff, you're moving back in with mom and dad, and suddenly that's not feeling so cool.”
While Fox contributor Doug Schoen did not think the ad would be successful, Republican strategist Brad Blakeman labeled it “very good” and a “success” because “Karl has gotten more earned media than the amount he invested in the ad.”
Since Rove helped found American Crossroads, Fox News has praised and promoted the group's efforts. Fox Nation, one of Rove's biggest Fox fans, has embedded what they describe as “Rove ad[s]” and called them “Brilliant”; “Devastating”; “Sure to Make Obama Quake”; and “Makes A Fool Out Of 'Debbie Downer' Wasserman-Schultz.” Last December, Fox's Frank Luntz called a Crossroads ad “the best ad of 2011.”
Fox News programs have also regularly hosted Rove to promote his group's efforts. During a segment earlier this month, for instance, America Live hosted Rove to expand on an anti-Obama ad his group just released.