Spin Cycle

12.05.12

Why Fox Benched Karl Rove and Dick Morris

Pundits paying a price for faulty forecasts

Even a casual viewer of Fox News has seen them again and again, the network’s two most prominent political commentators, spending most of 2012 explaining why Barack Obama was going to lose.

Now Karl Rove and Dick Morris have virtually vanished, seemingly airbrushed from the airwaves.

american-crossroads-ten-superpacs
Marion Curtis, StarPix / AP Photo

Turns out they’ve been sidelined, at least temporarily, by Roger Ailes. Rove, regularly introduced as George W. Bush’s architect, and Morris, a onetime Bill Clinton strategist who moved to the right, are a reminder of Fox’s faulty forecasting.

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports that Ailes has issued an edict: Neither man can be booked without the approval of top management.A Fox spokesman confirmed this to the magazine with the words: “The election’s over.”

Could this simply amount to Rove fatigue? After all, he and Morris were a constant presence, but there’s less reason to have them on when you’re not analyzing the latest swing-state polls.

But I suspect it’s more than that. Rove drew national ridicule for challenging Fox’s own projection that Obama had won Ohio, and with it a second term. In that moment, he became a symbol of a partisan operative not willing to accept an uncomfortable reality.

Morris got so carried away in his cheerleading for the GOP ticket that he predicted Mitt Romney would win in an electoral landslide.

(The other all-star Fox pundit, Sarah Palin, seems to be making only infrequent appearances now that her political star has dimmed.)

Perhaps this is just a cooling-off period—Rove and Morris did pop up a few times after Election Day—until we plunge off the fiscal cliff or something and both men can be brought back as the memories of 2012 recede. Or perhaps, contrary to conventional wisdom, some pundits do pay a penalty for being spectacularly wrong.

Meanwhile, the "winning" team--the pundits at MSNBC--got to pay a private call on the president on Tuesday. Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Lawrence O'Donnell and Al Sharpton were big Obama boosters during the campaign. (Arianna Huffington also joined the soiree.) A White House statement said the president had met with "leading progressives" to talk up his economic plan. Progressive they are indeed, but wouldn't they rather be known as journalists?