The Fox News Candidate is… Fox News
When six GOP primary contenders descended on Fox News’ midtown headquarters for a “candidates forum” with a trio of red state attorneys general on Saturday night, the candidates probably expected tough questions about their positions. But they certainly didn’t expect to find a New York Times reporter roaming backstage.
Fox’s decision to allow Times scribe Jim Rutenberg into the building to confront the candidates in person threw campaign aides off guard, especially in the Romney camp, which went into “defensive mode immediately, insisting that the reporter stay far away,” as Rutenberg later wrote.
But the decision was just the latest example of what Fox head Roger Ailes recently called a “course correction” in an interview with Howard Kurtz of Newsweek. The Romney team’s debate-night tussle was the second embarrassing episode suffered by the candidate at the hands of Fox News in a week, after Bret Baier conducted a hard-hitting interview with Romney on November 29 that made news for several days. (After the contentious interview, Baier told Bill O’Reilly that Romney privately called his questions “overly aggressive” and “uncalled for.”) The network has also taken on the other GOP primary contenders. In July, Chris Wallace pointedly asked Michele Bachmann “are you a flake?” And in November, Fox gave a platform to Herman Cain accuser Sharon Bialek and her attorney Gloria Allred.
This chaotic and raucous primary season is demonstrating that Roger Ailes will put the interests of his network ahead of all else.