Fox rushes to GOP candidate Meg Whitman's defense

Following allegations that Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman knowingly employed an undocumented immigrant, Fox News has taken pains to cast doubt on the charges, alleging a “political stunt” by her Democratic opponent and that Whitman is the “victim of a last-minute smear campaign.” However, Fox personalities have criticized Timothy Geithner for similar issues.

News Corp. CEO is a Whitman donor; company funds Republican Governors' Association

Murdoch has donated $1,500 to Whitman. Earlier this month, Whitman's campaign received a $1,500 donation from News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch. News Corp. is Fox News' parent company.

News Corp. gave $1 million to the RGA. On August 16, Bloomberg News reported that News Corp. gave the Republican Governors Association -- an organization that works to elect Republican gubernatorial candidates -- "$1 million in June" and that News Corp. was "[t]he Republicans' biggest corporate donor" this year. The money “goes to candidates and the state parties, as well as independent expenditures to help elect gubernatorial nominees,” according to Bloomberg. The New York Times further reported on August 17 that the donation “is one of the biggest ever given by a media organization, campaign finance experts said.”

Fox: “Meg Whitman a victim of a last-minute smear campaign?”

Fox's Cavuto hosts Whitman, who calls allegations a “lie.” On September 29, Whitman's former housekeeper came forward alleging that Whitman had knowingly employed her, an undocumented immigrant, for years, firing her only in preparation for Whitman's run for office. On the September 29 edition of his Fox News show, Neil Cavuto hosted Whitman to respond to the allegations, which she called “simply a lie.” She went on to claim that her former housekeeper “is being manipulated” and asserted that the charges are “a political gimmick” and “clearly politically motivated.” Cavuto stated that he had reached out to her Democratic challenger, Jerry Brown, but that he had declined to come on the air.

O'Reilly calls allegations “dirty tricks.” On the September 30 edition of his show, Bill O'Reilly called the allegations against Whitman “dirty tricks” and alleged that she “is being attacked in a personal way.” O'Reilly further stated that “whether it's true or not, it's certainly a political ploy. It's a political play,” adding, “but we don't know whether it's true; it's impossible to speculate.” He went on to say, “It strikes me as almost impossible that a woman in her position, spending $125 million of her own money already on the campaign, would come out and basically lie. ... But, look, I don't know.”

Ingraham on allegations: “This is such a drive-by, orchestrated by someone ... obviously friendly to Jerry Brown.” On the same September 30 O'Reilly Factor, Laura Ingraham said that, “if Meg Whitman did something wrong, she should fix it or apologize for it,” but added that “it seems to me here that this is such a drive-by, orchestrated by someone, whether Gloria Allred herself or other people, obviously friendly to Jerry Brown, [who] wanted to score political points right before the election.” She further stated, “This seems sleazy” and that this “smells of the usual types of personal attack politics that I think a lot of people are sick of.”

Ingraham: “Gloria Allred's harboring an illegal alien, if you ask me.” During the same O'Reilly Factor, Ingraham repeatedly referred to Whitman's former housekeeper as “an admitted lawbreaker” and said, “We don't know anything about her, except that, apparently, she's in the country illegally.” Ingraham added: “So, she's in the country illegally now working with [attorney] Gloria Allred. Why -- Gloria Allred's harboring an illegal alien, if you ask me.” O'Reilly replied, “The thing that always gets me is if you're that outraged, and you think that you have been done an injustice, you don't need to read those words off a paper. OK? You just talk it. Whenever I see that, I go, 'well, anyway.' ”

Kelly: “From a legal perspective, there is no case here.” On The O'Reilly Factor, Megyn Kelly stated, “I don't know what Meg Whitman knew or didn't know,” but that "[f]rom a legal perspective, there is no case here," adding of the former housekeeper: “Let's not forget here, she's an illegal.” Kelly went on to claim that because the housekeeper was making $23 an hour, “many people would like to be abused in that manner.”

Gingrich on allegations: Democrats will “do everything they can to start a new argument, a new conversation.” On the September 30 edition of Hannity, Newt Gingrich agreed with the host that the allegations were politically motivated, saying, “You're gonna have 33 days of Democrats desperately trying to make the Republicans radioactive because if the election comes down to the record,” the “economy,” and “really bad votes, the Democrats are just gonna get crushed.” He continued: “They're gonna do everything they can to start a new argument, a new conversation, and they know that if they don't scar up the Republicans badly, they're just plain gonna lose.” He concluded: “It's that straightforward and that's why you're getting this kind of campaign.”

Hannity praised Whitman for doing “complete and due diligence.” On October 1, Hannity hosted Whitman for a softball interview about the allegations on his Fox News show. Hannity praised Whitman's conduct with regard to the hiring of the housekeeper, saying, “It seems to me you did complete and due diligence.”

Fox Nation: " 'Factor': Whitman-Illegal Worker Scandal Smells Like a 'Political Stunt.' " On October 1, the Fox Nation websitepromoted the O'Reilly Factor segments with O'Reilly, Ingraham, and Kelly on its front page, using the headline, " 'Factor': Whitman-Illegal Worker Scandal Smells Like a 'Political Stunt.' "

Fox Nation: “Epic: Levin Destroys Allred for Meg Whitman Maid Attack.” Fox Nation also promoted an interview right-wing talk radio host Mark Levin conducted with Allred on his show, which Fox Nation called “epic,” asserting that Whitman was the victim of a “maid attack.”

Fox Nation: “Meg Whitman a Victim of a Last-Minute Smear Campaign?” Fox Nation also suggested on October 1 that Whitman was the “victim of a last-minute smear campaign.”

Fox News figures criticized Geithner for similar issue

Hannity: “Anybody that had an illegal immigrant problem had to withdraw.” In January 2009, it was revealed that Tim Geithner had employed a housekeeper whose immigration status expired about three months before she stopped working for him. On his January 22, 2009, show (accessed via Nexis), Hannity brought up the issue and said: “Anybody that had an illegal immigrant problem had to withdraw. Geithner has an illegal immigrant problem and a tax cheat problem. If Rush Limbaugh doesn't pay his taxes why don't I doubt Harry Reid and Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer are going to say, you know, Rush is a good guy, he made an honest mistake. Not going to happen.”

Limbaugh, who was a guest on the show, added: “It's two sets of rules. The Democrat Party has never claimed to have standards. Only once in my memory have they claimed to have ethics and that's when Pelosi promised the most ethical Congress in 2006 after the elections. If they actively promote no standards for themselves then how can they violate them? As far as the liberal media is concerned, Geithner is too important to fail. He's the only man who can fix it.”

Cavuto: "[T]hese are issues that a potential Treasury secretary would presumably be well versed in." On the January 13, 2009, edition of his show (via Nexis), Cavuto hosted Rep. Steve King, who said of the Geithner revelations: “I don't know the span of the years of the housekeeper's employment, but I do know that when you file an I-9 form, which I have personally done many times as an employer, you will be aware of those dates and the expiration of the green card.” After King cited other cases in which candidates' nominations had been derailed by hiring unauthorized workers, Cavuto said, “Now, in all of those cases they were either A. G. potential picks, Labor potential picks, not Treasury potential picks. The Treasury's kind of interesting because these are issues that a potential Treasury secretary would presumably be well versed in.” He then asked King, “What do you make of that?” King replied: “I'm incredulous at that kind of a thing, that we would want to see an appointee ... that wouldn't ask the question of someone who is working for him as a domestic employee, 'Are you legal? When does your green card expire?' ”