Fox News anchor Dana Perino, a former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, welcomed back her old colleague, former Bush deputy chief of staff and Fox News contributor Karl Rove, on Thursday afternoon for a discussion of how presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden was supposedly lurching to the left.
While the topic was Biden’s cooperation with former primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders in the drafting of the Democratic platform, one relevant detail was not mentioned at all during the interview: Rove has also been closely advising the Trump campaign on the election itself.
NBC News reported last week that Rove had visited the White House earlier that week, meeting with both President Donald Trump and chief of staff Mark Meadows.
“Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale has consulted Rove since the 2018 midterm elections, per three people familiar with the discussions,” NBC reported. “Before the pandemic, Rove had advised the Trump campaign it could be modeled, in some ways, after the Bush 2004 re-election race.”
The New York Times reported on May 15 that Rove had met with the president and “warned Mr. Trump that he had fallen behind in the task of damaging Mr. Biden, people familiar with the meeting said.”
In the time since those initial NBC News and New York Times reports, Rove has made other appearances on Fox’s purported “news”-side coverage. While he discussed the upcoming presidential election, neither Rove nor Fox News’ anchors disclosed that he was advising Trump on the campaign itself.
Rove appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss the ginned-up “Obamagate” controversy being pushed by Trump and right-wing media regarding the investigation of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. “Now, is it going to settle the election? No, I don't think so,” Rove said. “But it does ask some very serious questions that need to be answered.”
And he appeared Tuesday on Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream, again with no disclosure that he was advising the Trump campaign.
During the segment, Rove defended Trump against backlash over the president’s statement that he was taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which Fox News has promoted extensively as an unproven prophylactic and treatment for coronavirus. Rove chalked up criticism of Trump’s advocacy for the drug as being itself an aspect of partisan backlash:
Note: It doesn’t actually count as “muting some of the partisanship” to be a behind-the-scenes adviser to the Trump reelection campaign, but not disclose it when you’re on the air.