John Kasich, whose long career at Fox News helped him secure the Ohio governorship, is the latest former Fox News employee to run for the Republican nomination for president. Kasich's entrance into the race makes him the fourth Republican presidential candidate -- along with Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum -- that has worked for Fox News. Fox built up Kasich during his years as an employee and politician, and Kasich has pointed to his time at Fox to enhance his resumé.
Kasich is certainly among the most successful Fox News candidates. He joined the network in 2001 as a former congressman and left in 2009 to successfully run for governor. Kasich was a frequent guest host for The O'Reilly Factor and the host of the programs From The Heartland and Heroes. Fox paid Kasich $265,000 in 2008 for his work.
Toledo Blade editor David Kushma noted that Kasich's “tenure at Fox News, where he honed his heartland persona, helped make him media-savvy.” A 2002 Columbus Dispatch profile of Kasich reported that he “wants to be in the White House,” but in the meantime was “concerned about doing a good job with Fox, developing as 'a media person' and connecting with viewers.”
During one 2014 meeting, Kasich reportedly “endeared himself to the conservatives by mentioning his past TV work,” telling them: “I used to be at Fox News. I was a big star at one time.”
Kasich told CNBC during a July 14 interview that working for Fox News “pushed me intellectually to learn many things, really, in a short period of time.”
Fox News heavily promoted Kasich during his first post-Fox political run. Sean Hannity, who hosted a fundraiser for Kasich, told him on Fox to “do me a favor. Go get elected governor.” In another interview, Hannity said, “you can help us. Win the state of Ohio.” During an interview on The O'Reilly Factor, Kasich asked for donations while Fox News put his website address on-screen (the solicitation drew a formal complaint, later dismissed by Ohio officials, from the Democratic Governors Association).
Kasich has also received financial backing from Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch donated $10,000 to his 2010 campaign. Murdoch's News Corporation, which at the time owned Fox News, also donated $1 million in 2010 to the Republican Governors Association; Murdoch said the donation “was actually [a result of] my friendship with John Kasich.” In December 2014, Murdoch donated $10,000 for Kasich's 2014 transition fund.
Kasich has touted his friendship with Murdoch, telling the Financial Times in July that “I love him” and “I love to be with him.” Politico also reported on June 19 that Kasich has “begun a concerted push to lock down the support of Murdoch” and “was hopeful he could be brought aboard.” The outlet added “When they are both in New York City, Kasich and Murdoch make plans to see one another. But Murdoch, those familiar with the effort say, hasn't yet committed to Kasich, and has said he has many friends in the contest. He has pointed to Bush, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie as candidates he particularly admires.”
In a November 4 interview after Kasich won his reelection campaign, Fox's Megyn Kelly told Kasich that it “wasn't that long ago that you were here at the Fox News Channel. Everyone loved you. Now you go to Ohio. The people love you. Are you going to make a pitch on a national level and hope they love you and put you in the White House?” Kasich dodged by the question by responding, “what I'm really bucking for in the short term is to wonder if I can come back and host O'Reilly again at least once or twice. It would be a lot of fun. I don't think they've ever had a sitting governor do that.”
The Columbus Dispatch reported following the exchange that Fox News head Roger “Ailes called him this morning to ask if he was serious” about wanting to host again on Fox. The paper quoted Kasich stating, “I think if I want to make it happen they will.” A Fox News spokesperson told Politico that Ailes called “to congratulate Governor Kasich on the win in his home state and was joking about hosting a show.”
There are indications that Kasich's old colleagues will afford him a home-field advantage. Fox had promoted a Kasich 2016 presidential run prior to it becoming official. Senior vice president and host Neil Cavuto, for instance, told Kasich last year his “success” as governor has given the liberals “reason to fear you” in 2016.
Fox News contributor John LeBoutillier wrote that if Kasich does run, Fox would “accord him very favorable coverage. Why? Because Kasich used to host shows on Fox -- and rumor has it that Sir Rupert Murdoch likes him.”