The Other McCain

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Fox Not ‘Fair and Balanced’? Santorum Finally Mentions Pro-Romney Bias UPDATE: Exit Polls Show Mitt Wins Mississippi? Newt 3rd in Alabama?

Posted on | March 13, 2012 | 29 Comments

I’ve been saying this for weeks, and it’s probably not a good idea for the candidate to say so himself, but it’s unquestionably true:

On Tuesday’s “Kilmeade & Friends” radio show on Fox News Radio, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum . . . accused Fox News of being in the tank for his competitor, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. . . .
“The man has had a 10-to-1 money advantage,” Santorum said. “He’s had all the organizational advantage. He’s had Fox News shilling for him every day, no offense Brian but I see it. And yet, he can’t close — he can’t seal the deal because he just doesn’t have the goods to be able to motivate the Republican base and win this election.” . . .
“I can tell you, we watch the coverage there and you know, look you guys are allowed to cover what you want to cover,” Santorum said.

The daytime programs, in particular, seem to have a pro-Romney bias, and there’s no doubt that Bill O’Reilly loves him some Romney. Rick gets his share on Hannity and Greta, but the rest of the lineup has been leaning ever more steadily Mitt-ward since Florida.

Someone could, and should, do an analytical study of how Fox has covered the GOP primary campaign, because as someone who spent the past 16 months cheering for underdogs — first Herman Cain, then Santorum — I’ve noticed how the bias works.

Forget about the commentary programs and candidate interview segments. The bias has actually been on the straight news side of the Fox operation. In horse-race campaign reporting mode, Fox always showed a bias toward the perceived “first tier” candidates.

Herman Cain was mostly a non-story until after Perry melted down and Cain won the Orlando straw poll. Then everything was Cain, Cain, Cain until it became obvious that the sexual allegations were non-survivable, at which point it was, “Hey, Newt!” And then it was Newt, Newt, Newt all the way through Christmas.

Only in the final week of December did it seem that somebody at Fox said, “Hey, maybe this Santorum thing is for real.” But on caucus night in Iowa, the Fox analysts — Karl Rove in particular — were clearly dismissive of Santorum’s success, treating it as a fluke. So, once Mitt won New Hampshire, as everyone knew he would all along, Santorum was once again relegated to “second-tier” coverage. Then came Santorum’s Feb. 7 “hat-trick,” but the talking heads on Fox kept repeating the misleading “non-binding” spin from the Romney camp, once again treating any Santorum success as an irrelevant fluke. (Iowa was also non-binding, but the Fox talking heads didn’t mention that when it looked like Romney had narrowly won there.)

Simply put, anyone who watched Fox News campaign coverage could detect two clear biases:

  1. Until the field was winnowed (i.e., after South Carolina), a bias in favor of covering the contest between perceived front-runners; and
  2. A generally dismissive attitude toward Santorum, so that even his victories were treated as insignificant, whereas any win by Romney — no matter how slender the margin, nor how much Romney out-spent his opponents — was treated as a solid victory.

Just as liberals don’t notice liberal bias in the media, people who hate Santorum don’t notice their anti-Santorum bias — and there are clearly some people at Fox News who hate Rick Santorum.

Finally, I’ll say this: Newt has gotten bend-over-backward fairness from Fox, which has ignored his campaign’s severe financial problems and blatant organizational ineptitude. People who saw Gingrich’s campaign at close range in Nevada pronounced it a “clusterf–k,” and I’m reasonably sure the campaign has been running deeper and deeper into the red for several weeks now.

Question 1: How much did Newt raise in February? Question 2: What was his campaign’s cash-on-hand and total debt as of March 1?

Until we see Fox News people asking those hard questions, I will continue to suspect them of bias.

UPDATE: Just as I was about to take my customary Tuesday nap — I expect a late night — a commenter notices that the Drudge Report has posted these exit-poll numbers:

AL
ROMNEY 32.07%
SANTORUM 25.24%
GINGRICH 23.6%

MS
ROMNEY 33.55%
GINGRICH 24.62%
SANTORUM 22.15%

OK, I’m adding several grains of salt: Exit polls can be screwy.

But if this works out — if Mitt wins both Alabama and Mississippi with Newt third in Alabama — then it’s all over for Gingrich.

And I’m sure you’ll remember my earlier prediction: When Newt quits, he will endorse Romney. Why? Just like Pawlenty, Gingrich will have campaign debts he can’t pay without Mitt’s money.


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Comments

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Unfortunately it may be too late for that.  Santorum is not winning today.  Neither is Gingrich. 

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    5 PM ET: NETWORK EXITS SHOW ALABAMA TIGHT; ROMNEY TAKES MISSISSIPPI… DEVELOPING…

    DRUDGE POLLING DATA:

    AL
    ROMNEY 32.07%
    SANTORUM 25.24%
    GINGRICH 23.6%

    MS
    ROMNEY 33.55%
    GINGRICH 24.62%
    SANTORUM 22.15%

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    This may be complete BS becasue Drudge is in Romney’s back pocket.  Or at least I have been told that. 

  • CO

    Rick has such a genial personality. 
    He should be glad Fox has not overexposed him.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    You mean that Middle Atlantic charm?

  • Steve

    >”  he can’t close — he can’t seal the deal”

    I’ve never understood what this claim is supposed to be based on. (I’m assuming it’s meant to be a serious claim and not just a smokescreen)

    What would it look like if Romney “sealed the deal” or “closed”?

    If Romney is failing to “seal” the deal”,  how do we describe what Santorum is doing?

  • http://twitter.com/BatesLine Michael Bates

    News Corp is not now and never has been friendly to social conservatism. 

    “The word then came down from on high: ‘When you give an interview, if you talk about being Christian, don’t mention that you work for the New York Post.'”

    http://bestronginthegrace.blogspot.com/2006/02/dawn-eden-on-getting-fired-from-new.html

  • http://twitter.com/BatesLine Michael Bates

    It’s the difference between being the “inevitable” victor and the insurgent coming from out of nowhere. 

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    As someone who has worked in the news business, can you point to any cycle where any media gave attention to anyone NOT considered “top tier” of the candidates?  EVER?

    So, Fox is doing now what every major news organization is doing and has ALWAYS done, concentrate coverage on those viewed as main contenders and give little to the also-rans, but all of a sudden, now that YOU have a dog in the hunt, it’s “bias”?

    Oh, but Hannity and Greta don’t count, because you like their coverage.

    America needs winners, not whiners.

  • http://www.granitegrok.com Mike Rogers

    As Stacy says, follow the money. I have been called all kinds of misogynist for pointing out the number of pols, some failed, some not, with a high percentage of “ladies”, who have “surprisingly” endorsed Mittens, and just might have had campaign debts to retire.
    The worlds second oldest profession does indeed bear (bare?) a striking resemblance to the oldest!

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • Pingback: GOP PRIMARY RESULTS HQ: Mississippi, Alabama, Hawaii Tonight : The Other McCain

  • http://twitter.com/ilovegrover Thane_Eichenauer

    For all that exit polls can be screwy I would point out that the largest bias I see is that 20% of those polled aren’t noted in the results.  Is this an anti-Ron Paul bias?  Is it just plain ole laziness or has someone made an honest but unfortunate mistake in omitting the full results?
    I would look for additional details on Drudge Report save that the website is a hive of information all of which is not readily searchable.

  • Steve

    Did you just call Christine O’Donnell a whore?It’s not just the left which has a potty mouth where conservative women are concerned.

  • http://www.leftbankofthecharles.com/ Charles

    It always makes me laugh when I hear some campaign or other go on and on about how they can take this nomination away from Mitt Romney at a brokered convention after failing to win it away at the polls.

    Sending a very successful businessman like Mitt off to deal in back rooms is like throwing Brer Rabbit into the briar patch. Don’t they know that’s where he was born?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

     Believe it or not, Stacy didn’t coin “follow the money” – it’s actually rather ancient wisdom.

    You seem good at throwing around vague accusations.  Anything to back them up, or are you just flinging poo to see what sticks?

  • http://www.granitegrok.com Mike Rogers

    Since you ask,

    When a Tea party candidate, who claimed to be a big conservative, and definitely had a big campaign debt, suddenly started shilling for the establishment candidate, and stabbed a prominent Tea party figure in the back, the people who supported her through two congressional races take a real hard look.
    I can’t prove money changed hands, but too many coincidences have occurred, and too many unlikely supporters have jumped on board, for it to be random chance.

  • http://www.granitegrok.com Mike Rogers

    See, no words used, and lots of people are for sale in politics, which is why that Reagan quote is so apropos.
    No names were named, but since you offered one….

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

     So in other words, you have nothing but vague allegations.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

     Oh, some people are battier than the Carlsbad Caverns.  They hate “the Establishment,” but support candidates like Santorum who were part of the GOP Senate leadership with Lott, Frist, and McConnell and voted along with them, or Gingrich who was tossed by conservatives and supported by the Establishment, both of whom stayed in DC after leaving Congress, to peddle influence. 

    Then they dream of a “brokered convention” like they don’t think “the Establishment” would be the brokers?

    It’s like they didn’t even wait for Pat Robertson to tell ‘em it’s okay to smoke them grassroots . . .

  • http://www.granitegrok.com Mike Rogers

    As you say. but one is a coincidence, this many is a trend.

  • Pingback: Datechguy's Blog » Blog Archive » Ok can we start taking Santorum as nominee a little more seriously now? » Datechguy's Blog

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    That’s the thing that gets me about people being surprised at what Fox is and how they conduct themselves.

    Fox was created in New York by New Yorkers and Washingtonians.  They’re ‘sophisticated’, don’t you know.

    Look, I like Andrea Peyser’s writings in the New York Post, but I know she’s a New York version of a conservative, so she considers herself too cosmopolitan to hold any social conservative views.   Therefore, I never approach her commentary expecting her to sympathize with us.

    Fox is what it is: a product of city folks.  Don’t expect them to be more than a product of who they are and you won’t be disappointed.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    He has Common Sense.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Mr. Santorum did, indeed, play ball with The Establishment, but many of us believe that he learned his lesson and is no longer. 

    I base my belief in his reformation on having watched him since he lost his Senate seat, how he has conducted himself.

  • http://2012.ak4mc.us/ McGehee

     He played ball with the Establishment and it ended his Senate career. That he has parted with the Establishment indicates a capacity to learn — which is proof he was never a good fit for the Establishment in the first place.

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