AP: Fox's employee-politicians put network in “a unique position of influence”

As Media Matters for America has documented, a central facet of Fox News' position as the communications arm of the Republican Party is the presence of several potential GOP presidential candidates among the ranks of the network's employees.

Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin are all Fox News employees -- and considering runs for office. They are all actively campaigning and raising money for GOP candidates and causes -- sometimes accomplishing the latter through their Fox News day jobs. Fox News is even willing and eager to cover them as they campaign, with no apparent regard for ethical questions.

Today, the Associated Press' David Bauder reports on how the network acts as a “town square” for Republican would-be presidential candidates and gives Fox “what may be a unique position of influence”:

Three of the top five choices in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference's recent straw poll on favorite 2012 presidential candidates had more than one thing in common: They're all on the Fox News Channel payroll.

Mike Huckabee hosts his own weekend show at Fox, Newt Gingrich gets frequent air time as an analyst and Sarah Palin is a celebrated recent hire. Mitt Romney, who won the informal sample, does not work for Fox.

A Fox job certainly isn't a requirement for a Republican would-be president. Yet its stature as a town square for opponents of the Obama administration places Fox in what may be a unique position of influence for a television network.

“Fox has almost replaced the Heritage Foundation and AEI (American Enterprise Institute) as the White House in waiting for the Republican Party,” said Eric Burns, president of Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog.

Read the whole thing.