A revolving door exists between the Republican Party and Fox News Channel, with a number of former Bush administration officials, former and potentially future GOP presidential candidates, and Republican strategists on Fox's payroll and airwaves. A Media Matters for America review of Fox coverage since September 1 reveals that these individuals, typically hosted alone or on unbalanced panels, often use their airtime to advance false and misleading claims about Democrats and progressives, as well as to fundraise, further demonstrating that Fox is effectively a conservative political organization and not a legitimate news outlet.
Bush administration in exile
Karl Rove: Ubiquitous in Bush White House, on Fox News. Karl Rove, who served as George W. Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff throughout most of his eight-year presidency, is a ubiquitous figure on Fox News. Since September 1, for instance, he has appeared at least 17 times -- roughly twice a week -- on prime-time programs such as Hannity and The O'Reilly Factor in his capacity as Fox News contributor and political analyst. In all but one of those instances, he has appeared alone opposite Fox hosts. (On the October 18 edition of Fox News Sunday, he appeared opposite former Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe.) Moreover, Rove has repeatedly misled and misinformed during these appearances, including falsely claiming that Kevin Jennings, a Department of Education official, had engaged in “high-profile, in-your-face advocacy of things like NAMBLA and gay rights and queering elementary school curricula” and advancing the dubious claim, contradicted by the Congressional Budget Office, that the House health care bill will lead employers to “dump” coverage.
Dana Perino: From Bush White House podium to Fox News desk. After serving as Bush's press secretary, Perino became a Fox News contributor and Fox Forum columnist, appearing on Fox News' prime-time programs at least nine times since September 1, most frequently on Hannity, according to a search of the Nexis database. Perino typically appeared with other guests: She appeared with a Fox Business Network reporter in four instances, she appeared twice with Democrats or liberals (Bob Beckel and Julie Menin), and she appeared once on a Fox News Sunday panel with syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, as well as Mara Liasson and Juan Williams of NPR. She appeared alone twice. During these appearances, Perino has falsely suggested that allowing federally subsidized health plans to cover abortion is inconsistent with current law and suggested that the White House is doing “like dictators do” by criticizing Fox.
John Bolton: Bush ambassador to Fox Nation. John Bolton, formerly Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, now serves as a Fox News contributor and has appeared alone opposite Fox prime-time hosts nine times since September 1. During his appearances, he has advanced misinformation, such as joining Fox host and conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck in suggesting that the Obama administration supports a one-world government.
Home for recent and potential GOP presidential, gubernatorial candidates
Mike Huckabee: Former GOP presidential candidate uses Fox perch to fundraise for his PAC. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee became host of the Fox News program Huckabee after his failed bid for the GOP's presidential candidate in 2008 and has guest-hosted The O'Reilly Factor at least three times during 2009, according to a Nexis search. Moreover, in his capacity as Fox host, Huckabee has directed viewers to “go to balancecutsave.com," which redirects visitors to a Web page soliciting donations for Huckabee's political action committee, which financially supports Republican candidates and also pays his daughter's salary. Additionally, Huckabee has advanced falsehoods during his Fox appearances in 2009, including falsely suggesting that Vice President Joe Biden disclaimed responsibility for the economy and that Bush did not claim to have “inherited” a weakening economy.
Newt Gingrich: From House speaker to Fox contributor to ... 2012 GOP pres. candidate? Fox News political contributor Newt Gingrich, who “joined the network in 1999, marking his first television deal since leaving Congress” that year as Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, repeatedly appears on Fox News prime-time programs alone opposite Fox's conservative hosts -- while considering a run for president in 2012. Since September 1, Gingrich has appeared as a contributor or analyst on Fox News at least 10 times, including four appearances on Hannity and two appearances on The O'Reilly Factor, according to a Nexis search. In seven instances he appeared alone, he appeared twice with his wife, Callista Gingrich, to promote their documentary and books, and he appeared once on a Fox News Sunday panel with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), former DNC chair Howard Dean, and Obama transition team head John Podesta. During these and other appearances on Fox, Gingrich advanced baseless and outrageous claims, including wondering if White House communications director Anita Dunn wants to subject Fox commentators to a “Cultural Revolution” and smearing then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor by claiming that she “clearly supported racial quotas” in the Ricci v. DeStefano case.
John Kasich: Fox host turned Ohio GOP gubernatorial candidate. Former Ohio Republican congressman John Kasich, who hosted the now-defunct Fox News program Heartland with John Kasich, guest-hosted The O'Reilly Factor at least twice in 2009 prior to announcing his bid for Ohio governor on June 1. Kasich appeared on Hannity the day that he announced his candidacy and three times thereafter, according to a Nexis search. Additionally, Kasich's gubernatorial website features an article in its news section that identifies him as “Fox News' Kasich.”
(Image from the News section of Kasich's gubernatorial campaign website taken 10/22/09.)
During his Fox News tenure, Kasich has advanced misinformation, including forwarding the false Republican talking point that Democrats, for all their criticism of the Bush administration's Iraq war policy, had no plan of their own to deal with Iraq, terrorism, and national security in general. Media Matters has also documented that he claimed that the Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder and chairman of the Moral Majority Coalition, is not “some sort of extremist.”
Fox provides a perch for GOP strategists and pollsters
Dick Morris uses Fox appearances to smear Obama White House, fundraise. Fox News political analyst and Republican strategist Dick Morris is a ubiquitous presence on Fox News' prime-time programs, appearing nearly three times a week every week since September 1, according to a Nexis search. Morris has appeared alone opposite a Fox host since the beginning of September at least 20 times, appearances that are fairly evenly split among The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. During the 2008 election cycle, Morris repeatedly urged viewers to donate to an anti-Obama political action committee without disclosing that that PAC had paid a firm connected to him; in recent days, he has repeatedly used his appearances to fundraise for a conservative group opposed to health care reform for which he is chief strategist. Additionally, while on Fox, Morris has repeatedly smeared Obama and his administration, claiming, for instance, that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may challenge Obama in the 2012 primary and that Obama “delay[ed] the decision to commit troops to Afghanistan ... because he wanted this [Nobel] prize.”
Frank Luntz doctors words, facts while on Fox. GOP consultant and pollster Frank Luntz has repeatedly appeared during Fox News' prime-time shows since September 1, interviewed alone a total of six times on Hannity and The O'Reilly Factor and appearing twice on Glenn Beck with several 9-12 Moms. During his Fox News appearances, Luntz -- who authored an anti-reform health-care talking points memo intended to help conservatives defeat the Democrats' health reform initiative -- has repeatedly misinformed about health care reform. For instance, he has falsely suggested that reform legislation reduces physician payments and spawned another GOP talking point, asserting that the Democrats' proposed public insurance plan is a “government option” not a “public option, which is what the White House calls it.” Beck also hosted Luntz to instruct his audience on the signs “the tea party people should be carrying.”