Fox News Temporarily Benching Rove

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 4 2012 9:02 PM

Expect To See Less of Karl Rove on Fox News (For Now Anyway)

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Screengrab from Fox News on election night

Screengrab from Fox News on election night

Fox News chairman Roger Ailes is reportedly trying to turn the page from the network's heavily-mocked campaign coverage that veered into the surreal on election night when Karl Rove refused to accept the reality that President Obama had won another term in the White House. How will the conservative network go about doing that? For starters, by limiting the air time given to Rove and another familiar face who were among the loudest predicting an easy win for Mitt Romney.

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’s orders mean new rules. Ailes’s deputy, Fox News programming chief Bill Shine, has sent out orders mandating that producers must get permission before booking Rove or Morris.  ... A Fox spokesperson confirmed the new booking rules for Rove and Morris, and explained that Shine’s message was "the election’s over."
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Both conservative pundits made their share of appearances on the network in the immediate aftermath of the election, but they reportedly have been tapped for fewer and fewer interviews in the past few weeks. Both men have other platforms, however—The Hill for Morris; the Wall Street Journal for Rove—so don't expect either man to go completely radio dark. Still, their Fox News benching brings an unexpected (albeit small) dose of accountability to a profession that is normally remarkably devoid of it.

The decision also comes at an interesting time for Fox News as it transitions into a second Obama term. On one hand, Obama's re-election gives the channel's TV personalities four more years to stoke anger at a president that most of their viewers dislike (something that will no doubt be good for the channel's already strong ratings). But on the other, the president's comfortable margin of victory left the network with a few fences to mend with viewers who had been assured by those same talking heads that Romney would prevail on election day.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.