February 1, 2015

I'm glad to see someone formalizing what Faux News does for candidates during elections. Gabe Sherman is author of the outstanding book, The Loudest Voice in the Room, about Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch and Faux News. He joined Brian Stelter to discuss the impact of the Faux Propaganda Network on the Republican primary.

As Sherman describes it, serious Republican candidates make pilgrimages to New York to see Roger Ailes and "kiss the ring." Believe. When you've built the most powerful propaganda network in the world, you get to command the adoration and attention of all candidates vying for the prize.

Sherman put an exclamation point on it. "If you want to be a Republican front-runner, you have got to get prime spots on FOX. You have got to get prime bookings. And Ailes is that ring that you need to kiss. "

Sherman also reported that Rick Perry went to Iowa via New York City, so he could pay a call to Roger and bow before The One Ring That Rules Them All.

There's just one thing that bothers me about this conversation. It's treated as though this is a perfectly normal function for a self-proclaimed "news" outlet to perform. Shouldn't someone have pointed out that kissing Roger Ailes' ring is a perversion of what news and journalism is supposed to be about?

And then we get to Sarah Palin...

The panel took a sideline into Matt Lewis' column this week about Sarah Palin. The one where, six years too late, Lewis says it was probably a mistake to keep promoting her when she was done after the 2008 loss with McCain.

Stelter doesn't let up on him about Palin, though, pinning him down on whether or not he would support her if she takes another shot at the 2016 GOP Primary. (Please stop me from laughing too loudly)

From the transcript:

STELTER: Let me talk about Sarah Palin for a moment, because, Matt, you wrote a column this week suggesting you have some regret for previously supporting her and sympathizing with her, maybe boosting her.

Here is part of what you wrote in your column: "It's probably time to concede that the early critics of Sarah Palin had a point, and that they shouldn't have been tarred and feathered and in some cases nearly purged from the conservative movement."

As far as I can tell, Matt, Palin is still a FOX News contributor. Typically, what we see is if candidates take serious steps towards becoming legal presidential candidates, that they leave FOX. That's what Mike Huckabee has done and Ben Carson has done. Will you take Palin seriously again if she decides to leave FOX News perhaps to mount a candidacy?

LEWIS: Well, that would be a good start.

But I think more likely she's sort of teasing us. I think that she's flirting with the idea of running again to sort of keep her name out there. Remember, a few years ago, she led the media on this wild goose chase, where half the press was following her bus caravan around the country. Of course, she did not end up running.

So far, so good. Lewis didn't say 'grifter' but that's what he said in more words, right? Well, we can't have any truth told about Half-Term McGrifty without some moment of "but you know she's really good for politics" mixed in. Here we go...

But I think one big thing has happened in recent years. That's this rise of a new crop of conservative stars. When Sarah Palin burst onto the scene in 2008 as this fresh face with all this charisma and talent, nobody knew who Ted Cruz was. Nobody knew Marco Rubio or Rand Paul or Nikki Haley.

This entire generation of conservatives have risen since Palin. She helped some of them, by the way. And I think most conservatives I know are saying, Sarah Palin, it's time to move on, let's focus on Scott Walker or somebody else.

See? Yes, Sarah Palin was a miserable, dismal, Nixonian failure, but she made all these other whackos look good by comparison! So she really did serve a purpose.

I only wish Brian Stelter, as media critic, would simply have come out and said straight up that Fox News is not committing acts of journalism by stepping outside of the normal political process to anoint a candidate. For the moment, the Anointed One appears to be Scott Walker, but that could change at any time.

I shouldn't be up to Fox News to make that decision for voters.

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