After Karl Rove disagreed with other Fox News Channel contributors that President Obama had won re-election on the night of Nov. 6, a reporter for the New York Magazine website has claimed that network president Roger Ailes was “angry” at the GOP strategist's “tantrum,” which led to Rove being “benched” from the cable channel for 27 days.
In a story on the subject, Gabriel Sherman relied on many anonymous “sources” to claim that “Rove's meltdown” resulted in his banishment by Ailes, who sought to “reposition” the news channel “in the post-election media environment.” In truth, according to Fox officials who spoke on the record, Rove has been less of a presence on the channel because the election has ended.
In Sherman's mind, however, the small change in FNC's daily cast of characters was really about an alleged “soul searching” by the network:
According to multiple Fox sources, Ailes has issued a new directive to his staff: He wants the faces associated with the election off the air -- for now. For Karl Rove and Dick Morris -- a pair of pundits perhaps most closely aligned with Fox’s anti-Obama campaign -- Ailes' orders mean new rules.
Soon after, Ailes’ deputy -- Fox News programming chief Bill Shine -- sent out orders requiring producers to get his permission before booking Rove or Morris.
Nevertheless, Rove appeared on the channel the day after the election, when he charged that the Democratic incumbent's victory was a product of the president's ability to suppress the vote.
And both Rove and Morris made several appearances in the days after the election, but their visibility on the network then dropped sharply.
“Inside Fox News, Morris’s Romney boosterism and reality-denying predictions became a punch line,” Sherman said.
“At a rehearsal on the Saturday before the election, according to a source, anchor Megyn Kelly chuckled when she relayed to colleagues what someone had told her: 'I really like Dick Morris. He’s always wrong, but he makes me feel good,'” the reporter stated.
While the clash between Rove and Fox's statisticians on the air “made for riveting television,” he noted, “it provided another data point for Fox’s critics.”
“He was last seen on the network on Nov. 13 but has reportedly been kept off the air in an effort to make the major faces of the Republican Party less visible on the network,” Sherman added.
However, not all of Sherman's unidentified sources had negative things to say about the relationship between Rove and Ailes.
A Fox spokesperson confirmed the new booking rules and explained that Shine’s message was simply that “the election’s over.” Also, a spokesperson for Ailes denied any rift between him and the GOP consultant.
During an interview with the TVNewser website, Ailes referred to the election night situation by stating that "Rove was wrong. He backed down. Our guys were right. We stayed with it. Megyn did her famous walk down the hall. And it all worked out.”
“Rove returned to Fox News on Monday night after a 27-day absence, reportedly caused by his Election Night meltdown,” Sherman noted. “Hope he used that time to think.”
Apparently he has, since during Monday night's edition of "Special Report," he and Democratic consultant Joe Trippi discussed ways to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
“Gentlemen, welcome back,” host Brett Baier said after introducing the pair.
During the segment, the GOP analyst suggested several possible solutions to the financial crisis, including capping itemized deductions at $25,000 or at $50,000.
"It’s going to be very hard to get the Republican caucus to go for rates,” he continued. “They’ve offered revenues -- they said, look, okay, fine, you won the election. We’ll give you the $800 billion, but let’s find it in a way that has less of an economic impact.”
As the eight-minute segment wrapped, Baier told the pair: “Gentlemen, we will do it again. Thanks very much.”
I suggest that the next time Gabriel Sherman embarks on writing a hit piece, he should speak with people who will actually go on the record or, failing that, find some sources who do not share his apparent visceral hatred of the channel.