It's becoming increasingly clear that Fox News' employment of a “political analyst” who doubles as an adviser to a GOP super PAC is a major ethical problem.
During a regular Fox News appearance last month, Karl Rove -- who cofounded the GOP super PAC American Crossroads -- launched a series of attacks on Democratic senate candidate Bob Kerrey. Rove's attacks directly echoed ads his super PAC had been airing in Nebraska against Kerrey, but Rove did not disclose Crossroads' heavy investment in the race to Fox viewers.
Rove, the longtime George W. Bush advisor turned Fox News analyst and Wall Street Journal columnist, helped cofound the American Crossroads in 2010. After being active in the 2010 midterms, Crossroads has devoted itself to defeating Obama and helping Republicans in various congressional races in 2012. Rove clearly sees his role as a media figure as a means to help achieve Crossroads' goals.
Last month, Greta Van Susteren hosted Rove on her Fox News program to discuss the then-upcoming Wisconsin recall election. To her credit, at the start of the segment, Van Susteren asked Rove to disclose a potential conflict of interest, saying that Crossroads “makes contributions to different issues around the country. Just so that we're absolutely clear, you're here as a Fox analyst. But do you have any money in this race at all, in this recall race?” Rove assured Van Susteren that while he had personally donated to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Crossroads was not involved in the race.
A few minutes later, the conversation shifted to the GOP primary in the Nebraska senate race. Van Susteren did not pause again to ask Rove if Crossroads had money invested in the race (which it does), and Rove certainly didn't volunteer the information, even though he had been asked earlier in the segment about a possible Crossroads conflict of interest. Rove then used the opportunity to trash Bob Kerrey, the Democratic candidate in that race, while lauding Deb Fischer, the winner of the GOP primary.
Rove described Fischer as a “terrific general election candidate” and a “great addition to the” U.S. senate. Citing “some pals out there,” Rove said that she is known by local state senators as “effective, tough, smart, easy to get along with, really focused on her job,” and “a really fine person.”
After Van Susteren noted that Kerrey is a “war hero” who is “very popular in the state,” Rove quickly pivoted to attacking Kerrey for leaving Nebraska and “living in New York City and contemplating a run for mayor.” According to Rove, “that's not a way to get ahead in Nebraska politics, by moving to the big city and turning your back on the folks back home.”
Rove's attack on Kerrey moving to New York and supposedly “turning [his] back on the folks back home” echoes Crossroads' attack line against Kerrey. In January, Crossroads announced a $30,000 statewide radio ad campaign targeting “carpetbagger Bob Kerrey” for having lived in New York City. The ad, just like Rove did on Fox, mocks Kerrey's flirtation with a run for mayor of that city. (Attacks on Kerrey for having moved to New York City continue to be a staple of Crossroads' ads focused on the Nebraska Senate race.)
Though Crossroads only made a statewide ad buy in Nebraska, thanks to Rove's platform on Fox, he was able to take the ad's attacks national without Crossroads having to spend a dime (actually, he was technically being paid to do so).
Previously, Fox News has aggressively promoted ads from American Crossroads targeting president Obama, often without noting Rove's connection to either Crossroads or the network.