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 was one of Brown's biggest boosters during his successful 2010 Senate run, helping him fundraise and showering him with over-the-top praise. (Watch this compilation of Fox & Friends segments from 2009 and 2010 to get a sense of the tone of the network's coverage at the time.)
While Fox was occasionally critical of Brown during his time in office for not being sufficiently far-right, it nonetheless tried to boost his ill-fated 2012 re-election bid by smearing his opponent, Elizabeth Warren. After Brown lost, the network welcomed him into the fold in 2013, with Fox executive Bill Shine touting how Brown would bring “out of the box thinking” to the network.
Since he's been on Fox's payroll, both Brown and the network have cashed in on the speculation that he may run for office again. In a December piece explaining that the best indication of whether Brown would run in New Hampshire is whether Fox ends his contract, Politico media reporter Dylan Byers wrote, “you can rest assured that he'll use the Fox News platform to prove his conservative bonafides to Granite State voters.” Indeed, Brown published a FoxNews.com column (which he later sent to his political mailing list) railing against the “harmful impact” of Obamacare, specifically in New Hampshire. The network helped keep Brown in the conservative spotlight while giving him a megaphone to attack Democrats. Fox hosts also repeatedly asked an always-coy Brown whether he was thinking of throwing his hat in the ring.
During one of Brown's last appearances as a Fox employee, Neil Cavuto devoted an interview largely to a shirtless picture of Brown and asserted that he “might be the best looking” 2016 presidential contender.