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Fox News’ dark night of the soul

WEDNESDAY, NOV 7, 2012 [quote]Karl Rove tries to undo Ohio, and Sarah Palin laments "catastrophe" as Fox faces the horror of Obamapocalypse By the time we got to the 11 o’clock hour of election night on the East Coast and it all fell apart fast for Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, the atmosphere had turned grumpy and pugnacious on Fox News. No one was in any mood for the grace that the network’s commentators had displayed – no, really! — after Barack Obama’s historic victory four years ago. If Karl Rove’s on-air hissy fit about whether his colleagues had prematurely called Ohio for Obama (they hadn’t) was the undoubted highlight, the generalized sourness and weirdness spread much wider than that. Carl Cameron, Fox’s top political reporter, generally prides himself on playing it down the middle, at least by the network’s standards. But he couldn’t stop himself from delivering an impassioned standup from Romney HQ in Boston that felt like an extended paean to a guy that almost everyone in the country will be delighted never to see or hear anything about again. It was OK and maybe even noble, Cameron insisted, that the Romney team were hunkered down in their hotel suite and unwilling to concede, even after Fox and numerous other news organizations had called the election. Romney had fought so hard for those who believed in him, and wanted every vote to be counted. On Election Day, he had made one final campaign trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania, “on behalf of those who are looking for work.” Cameron did not observe that Romney now belongs to that demographic himself. I know: Oh, snap. In fairness, Romney didn’t drag it out much longer before giving the most pained and awkward presidential concession speech in recent memory. But Cameron’s soaring farewell aria, coupled with Rove’s mad-scientist desire to reanimate the past – meaning, specifically, the election fiasco of 2000 – pretty much expressed the Fox Zeitgeist. It was clearly traumatic. As election night moved rapidly from uncertainty to Republican doom, no one felt ready to let go of the robotic dream of a Romney presidency, or any of the talking points that have driven the network’s political coverage for the last couple of years: Obama was a Muslim-apologist weakling who was doomed by economic conditions and had been abandoned by his base, the polls were fatally skewed toward the Democrats, America was fundamentally a “center-right country” eager for ever lower taxes and ever smaller government. Early in the evening, anchor Megyn Kelly and commentator Tucker Carlson even made a lackluster effort to harp on the auto bailout and the Benghazi killings, two so-called issues we will never hear about again. (The mainstream media pilloried Romney unfairly on the former issue while ignoring the latter, etc.) But it obviously didn’t make them feel better. This was around 9:30 Eastern, when Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had already been called for Obama and the writing was on the wall in numerous other states. Those things were already the fading flowers of youth, nostalgic reminders of that lovely week in early October when Romney seemed to be leading but probably wasn’t. “Oh, there’s a subdued feeling to this, if you’re a conservative this evening,” pronounced former George H.W. Bush speechwriter Peggy Noonan during her celebrity cameo, which was one of the most entertaining segments of this peculiar variety show. I’m actually not being facetious. I have a soft spot for Noonan, probably just because she’s educated and speaks in complete sentences and looks like exactly the kind of society lady who’d be a hoot to talk to if you were trapped at the wrong kind of party.


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