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“It Isn’t Easy Being Fox”: There Isn’t Enough Liberal Hating To Fill The Day

Fox News has been in the news a bunch over the last two days, with stories like Roger Ailes’ wooing of David Petraeus, and now the discovery by Gabriel Sherman of New York that the network has benched Karl Rove and Dick Morris, though for slightly different reasons. Morris is just an embarrassment because he’s always so hilariously wrong about everything, while Rove apparently angered top management by challenging the network’s call of Ohio for Obama on election night. “Ailes’s deputy, Fox News programming chief Bill Shine, has sent out orders mandating that producers must get permission before booking Rove or Morris.” This highlights something we liberals may not appreciate: it isn’t easy being Fox.

For starters, MSNBC and CNN don’t get nearly as much attention for their internal conflicts as Fox does. That’s not only because there’s a healthy appetite among liberals for these kinds of stories, but also because there seem to be many people within Fox who are happy to leak to reporters about what goes on there, presumably because they don’t like their employer’s politics. Without them, we’d never know about these things. But more importantly, Fox has a lot of people and factions to keep happy. To see what I mean, let’s start with Ed Kilgore’s explanation for the sidelining of Morris and particularly Rove:

Thanks to their high visibility in the 2012 cycle, some MSM and progressive observers seem to be making the mistake of associating Rove and Morris with right-wing influence in the GOP, and assuming that taking them down a notch in FoxLand means some sort of new conservative pragmatism. Are we forgetting who these men are? Rove was the author of every single violation of “conservative principle” by George W. Bush that has enabled wingnuts to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the bitter fruits—substantively and politically—of the Bush/Cheney administration: No Child Left Behind, the Medicare Rx drug initiative, comprehensive immigration reform, and in general Big Spending and Big Government Conservatism. And given his role as the “quarterback” of the entire Super-PAC/501(c)(4) money blitz in 2012, Rove is also nicely positioned to take the fall for a “Republican Establishment” that failed to make ideology and “vetting” the centerpiece of the anti-Obama drive. As for Dick Morris—well, he’s the same unprincipled self-promoter he’s always been.

Putting Rove and Morris “on the bench” is precisely what you would expect from conservatives looking for a way to shift blame after another electoral defeat. The idea that it means Fox is coming to grips with the error of its ideological ways is leap of logic and faith unjustified by anything we’ve seen so far.

Let’s not forget that for a long time, Rove was for conservatives something like what Nate Silver was for liberals in 2012. Not only did he tell them they were going to win, he did so in a way that made them feel smart, by throwing a bunch of numbers at them and seeming to have a unique, evidence-based explanation for the coming Republican victory (the difference was that unlike Silver, Rove cherry-picks his data and always predicts a Republican victory, whatever the actual facts are). And he was and will always be the architect of George W. Bush’s two presidential victories, a considerable achievement. But now he has the stench of defeat about him. So when you put him on the air, it doesn’t make conservatives feel reassured, it makes them feel angry. But not the kind of angry Fox likes (i.e. angry at liberals). The bad kind of angry, the kind that might make you turn your TV off.

And keeping conservatives watching is Fox’s business. But that isn’t always easy, particularly when there are different kinds of conservatives whose immediate goals and beliefs may be in conflict. The one thing that unites them all—hatred of liberals—is what Fox specializes in. But at times like this, with Republicans in Congress going wobbly on taxes and a reexamination of the Republican future in progress, there isn’t enough liberal-hating to fill the day. Which can make it tough for Fox to navigate, since as the house organ of the conservative movement, it needs to keep everyone happy. It needs to simultaneously cater to the establishment, to the Tea Party, to the elite, to the base, and to everyone in between. That can be a difficult juggling act. Fox plays a much more central role in the conservative movement than MSNBC does in the liberal movement, which is good for business, but it also brings complications.

But don’t worry about Karl Rove. He’ll be back on the air before you know it, telling conservatives why their victory is inevitable.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, December 5, 2012

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Utterly The Same”: Change, Learn, Compromise, Grow? Not These Republicans

Hearing so much chatter about “change” in the Republican Party, the innocent voter might believe that the Republicans had learned important lessons from their stinging electoral defeat. On closer examination, however, the likelihood of real change appears nil, because the party’s leaders and thinkers can cite so many excuses to remain utterly the same.

At the Republican Governors Association conference last week, for instance, the favored explanation for the voting public’s emphatic rejection of Mitt Romney had nothing to do with issues or ideology, but only with more effective Democratic Party organizing and communicating. According to Wade Goodwyn, the National Public Radio reporter who covered the GOP governors’ meeting, their post-election mood was not one of shock, but complacency.

“It was widely agreed that nothing needed to be changed except perhaps the tone,” he found. “For example, the idea that more than 70 percent of Hispanics voted for the president because of Republican positions on illegal immigration was rejected by the Republican governors.”

That would be hard to believe if Goodwyn were not such an excellent and experienced journalist, because it is so stupid, so insulting, and makes so little sense. Could it really be true that the nation’s Republican governors — one of whom is quite likely to be the party’s next presidential nominee — are so obtuse and so obstinate that they would reject change even on immigration?

Republican leaders also seem inclined to ignore voter sentiment on the issue of taxes, despite majorities of 70 percent or better that agree the rich should pay more (including many voters who identify with the GOP). Rep. Mike Pence, who will become the governor of Indiana next January, told the Republican governors that he remains firmly opposed to any tax increase, especially on “those in the best position to put hurting Americans back to work,” which is GOP code for mega-millionaires and above.

Clearly the Republicans in Congress too feel free to ignore public opinion on this question, since Speaker John Boehner and his caucus have offered a “compromise” on fiscal policy that represents no change whatsoever from their earlier positions and the Romney platform. Government can accrue fresh revenues from growth, they say; nothing new or even meaningful there. And government can close unspecified loopholes and deductions to increase revenues, too. Where have we heard that before?

Meanwhile, the consulting geniuses who predicted a Romney victory — a landslide, even! — are peddling alibis about why their party lost despite billions spent. Fox News expert Dick Morris says it is because their voter machinery failed, the Romney campaign didn’t fight back, and Hurricane Sandy persuaded all of the undecided voters to back Barack Obama.

By the way, Morris now predicts that the economy will suffer a ruinous decline over the coming year or two, so Republicans can just sit back and watch the Democrats sink with it. Which is another way of saying no need for change on any front. Given his record as an oracle, both Democrats and Americans more generally now have great reasons for optimism.

Karl Rove, who squandered vast sums of his generous donors’ money, has lots of explaining to do. But he always has lots of explanations. This time, having reluctantly acknowledged electoral reality, Rove agrees with Morris that the Romney campaign’s failures were mostly to blame. He is full of advice for the party leaders, urging them to change the date of the convention, try to avoid “sounding judgmental and callous” on social issues, and “do better — much better” with Hispanics, younger voters, women, and middle-class families.

How should Republicans “do better” with those voter groups? On that question, Rove resorts to clichés about “reframing” messages and “re-engineering” voter turnout efforts, as though issues and policies have nothing to do with motivating actual voters.

Finally, Rove insists that his donors will continue to pour good money after bad into the coffers of American Crossroads, his SuperPAC. His current bleating sounds nothing like his confident bluster a decade ago, when he looked forward to a Republican realignment and unchecked power for decades to come.

Reality has changed, but Republicans won’t. They insist on creating their own reality, like Rove and his friends at Fox News always did — but fewer and fewer Americans will still pretend to live there.

By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, November 18, 2012

November 20, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Contemptible Creatures”: The GOP’s Self-Delusion Syndrome

What a fantastic last two weeks these have been. I don’t even mean Barack Obama solidifying his lead over Mitt Romney, although that’s perfectly fine. No, I mean the near-mathematically perfect joy of watching these smug and contemptible creatures of the right dodge and swerve and make excuses and, most of all, whine. There is no joy in the kingdom of man so great as the joy of seeing bullies and hucksters laid low, and watching people who have arrogantly spent years assuming they were right about the world living to see all those haughty assumptions die before their eyes. Watching them squirm is more fun than watching Romney and Paul Ryan flail away.

I loved the initial reaction to the famous videotape. Problem? Are you kidding? This is just what we’ve been waiting for! This will help Romney, it was said; finally, we have Mitt unchained, Mitt raw, Mitt the truth-teller. Now he can just charge out there and do more of this, and in no time the nation will be putty in our hands! And just you wait for the next polls.

Well, the polls have started to come, and they portend total disaster. Americans don’t turn out to like a heartlessly cruel Social Darwinian articulation of the national condition that by the way calls half the population worthless. Huh. Go figure.

But is this a problem? Of course not! There is an explanation for this too: The polls are wrong! All of them. Except of course Rasmussen, that rock of right-minded methodological certitude jutting out from the ocean of relativist corruption. I’d like a nickel but would settle happily for a penny for every tweet I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks from a conservative braying about a given poll’s sample.

There are loads of them but the gold medalist of this event by far is Dick Morris, who sits there on the Fox set like a betumored walrus on an ice floe assuring his viewers not to worry. His riff to Sean Hannity Monday night, a night when everyone else saw that Obama’s lead was getting comfortable-to-the-point-of-insurmountable, is worth quoting at some length: “[Romney] is at the moment in a very strong position. I believe if the election were held today Romney would win by four or five points. I believe he would carry Florida, Ohio, Virginia. I believe he would carry Nevada. I believe he would carry Pennsylvania.” Even Hannity at this point interjected, “Oh, come on.” But on Morris went. He knew of a private poll in Pennsylvania, “by a group that I’ve hired in the past,” that had Romney two points behind.

“People need to understand,” he continued, “that the polling this year is the worst it’s ever been. Because this is the first election where if I tell you who’s gonna vote, I can tell you how you’re gonna vote.” He went on to say that polls are assuming a six- or seven-point Democratic edge, and he assumes a three-point edge.

First of all, what was the Democratic edge in 2008? Uh, seven points. Second, while he is correct that the polls are showing strong Democratic advantages, they’re doing so because that’s how people are identifying themselves to pollsters. In fact, Stan Greenberg noted last Friday, Republicans lost five points in voter identification in a month. This is not bad poll sampling. It’s reality. And while it’s true that today’s numbers might overstate what will be the case on Nov. 6, the way things are going, they just might be understating them.

But no—now, the mere fact of poll-taking is “a subtle means of Republican voter suppression,” as Simon Maloy put it over at Media Matters. And the latest whine—this cupboard somehow never runs bare—is that conservatives don’t like taking polls. So said Scott Walker to Fox on Wednesday. Yes, of course! Because conservatives are people of action, busy people, who have neither the time (like the indolent 47 percenters) nor the inclination to accept phone calls from lamestream media pollsters. Honestly. Scott Walker can’t really believe this.

And finally, the last refuge of these scoundrels, bashing the librul media. Did you catch Rush Limbaugh’s pathetic rant on Tuesday after the famous blown interception call? Packer fans should just shake it off, he said, because the true aggrieved party is conservatives: “We’re lied about every day. The media gets it wrong on purpose against us every day. Now, I think it’s a good analogy.”

It’s a ridiculous analogy, and it’s not lies with which Limbaugh and Morris and their ilk are now coming face-to-face. It’s the truth. Americans like Barack Obama. They don’t like Mitt Romney. They really don’t like Paul Ryan. And they don’t want any part of the ideology of callousness and make-believe facts and pigheaded warmongering—and economic crisis and big deficits and all of that—that the Republicans are peddling. Of course these people will never come to terms with all that. But right now, boys, you’re running out of targets, and excuses.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 27, 2012

September 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“See Spot Run”: Dick Morris Still Can’t Read

A few weeks ago, Dick Morris, the sleazy Republican consultant, wrote an entire print column built around a single observation: the economy lost 30,000 health care jobs in the month of August. There was, however, a small problem: the economy actually gained 30,000 health care jobs in August. Morris’ entire indictment was based on numbers he misunderstood.

This week, it happened again. Here’s the lede in Morris’ new print column, published yesterday.

Behind the president’s whining to the Black Caucus, begging them to “quit grumbling,” is a decline in his personal popularity among African-American voters that could portend catastrophe for his fading reelection chances.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News survey, his favorability rating among African-Americans has dropped off a cliff, plunging from 83 percent five months ago to a mere 58 percent today — a drop of 25 points, a bit more than a point per week!

If the president’s favorability rating among African Americans really had slipped to 58%, that would be a pretty significant development. But once again, Morris based an entire column on numbers he chose not to read carefully enough.

What the poll actually found is that President Obama enjoys an 86% favorability rating among African Americans — 28 points higher than Morris’ column claimed.

How’d he screw this up? The poll found that 58% of African Americans have a “strongly favorable” view of Obama, but that’s only part of the basis of a favorability rating. Morris apparently noticed one number, brushed past the relevant detail, and published a claim that’s plainly not true.

The point here isn’t that the president can ignore some of his key supporters, and win a second term with his current levels of support. Clearly Obama has a lot of work to do. The point is, The Hill keeps publishing Dick Morris claims that are demonstrably wrong. It’s not a matter of opinion — the columnist is making specific arguments about numbers that aren’t connected to reality.

Indeed, Morris said Obama was doing well when his favorability rating among African Americans was 83%. But right now, they’re 86%. By Morris’ reasoning, Obama is doing great with this constituency.

Also note, this wasn’t just some side detail Morris flubbed — just as with the clearly dishonest health care column a few weeks ago, the columnist is building entire print pieces around basic statistics that don’t exist.

Either Dick Morris can’t read or he’s assuming his readers won’t bother to check. Either way, maybe it’s time for The Hill’s editors to start taking a closer look at his pieces.

By: Steve Benen, Washington Monthly Political Animal, September 28, 2011

September 29, 2011 Posted by | Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, President Obama, Pundits, Republicans, Right Wing, Voters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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