Spin Cycle

11.09.12

Bill Hemmer: Fox's Handling of Rove Dispute Was 'Spot On'

He defends Election Night coverage, says viewers should play the field
Video screenshot

Watch Howard Kurtz and Bill Hemmer talk Fox News.

Bill Hemmer, the Fox News morning anchor, sees the Election Night dispute between Karl Rove and the network in geographic terms.

Which is not surprising, since he’s from Ohio, the state that sparked the on-air spat when Rove challenged Fox’s decision to project Barack Obama the winner there—thus declaring him the winner of the election.

Hemmer’s job was as “the county man,” he says, and Fox’s decision desk “saw more votes in Cuyahoga County,” which encompassed Cleveland, “that Barack Obama was going to get eventually that would be greater than the margin that Mitt Romney could gather.”

But wasn’t it odd for Rove, who ran a pro-Romney Super PAC, to be protesting the call?

“I thought the way we handled it was absolutely spot on,” Hemmer tells me in a video interview. “Viewers at home have no idea what’s happening behind the scenes.” When anchor Megyn Kelly interviewed decision-desk members about the call, she showed that Fox has “a good, solid team that has a track record of never making a mistake.”

Asked about Fox’s role in a polarized culture, Hemmer, a onetime CNN anchor, offers some words of advice: Don’t only watch Fox.

“If you as a viewer today are smart about what you do, you will watch everyone. And then you can make up your own mind about how you feel about each issue.”

Hemmer was visiting his hometown of Cincinnati when Hurricane Sandy struck the New York area, and couldn’t get a flight back.

“Ultimately I ended up driving home from Columbus, 565 miles to the Lincoln Tunnel in 7 hours and 50 minutes,” he says. “And I thank every state trooper in Pa who allowed me to drive on.”

Video screenshot

Watch Howard Kurtz and Bill Hemmer talk Fox News.