Is Karl Rove’s media career kaput?
This question arises as a result of reports that Mr. Rove has been benched by his main television outlet, Fox News. According to New York Magazine, top Fox officials have ordered that producers must get permission before putting Rove or fellow GOP pundit Dick Morris on air. It’s all part of an effort by head honcho Roger Ailes to freshen story lines and change the network’s cast of characters, writes New York’s Gabriel Sherman.
It didn’t help that Rove and Mr. Morris both predicted a big election victory for Mitt Romney. Both were way off compared with the new gold standard of punditry, New York Times polling guru Nate Silver. Also, there was that awkward on-air moment when Rove insisted that Fox was wrong to call Ohio for President Obama. He insisted it was way too early to make the call. The president ended up winning the Buckeye State by three percentage points.
“Multiple sources say that Ailes was angry at Rove’s election-night tantrum when he disputed the network’s call for Obama,” writes Mr. Sherman.
What’s going on here? Is former Fox fave Rove to be replaced by David Petraeus, the disgraced former CIA chief and military general whom Mr. Ailes urged to run for president? Mr. Petraeus needs a job, after all, and a stint as a network talking head would be lucrative and easy. Ex-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer resurfaced as a pundit after his own peccadilloes drove him from office. Petraeus could do the same thing.
Well, we don’t know about that, but we’d put up money that Rove will be back and bigger than ever before this election cycle is out.
First off, as the New York Magazine story noted, part of the reason for Rove’s banishment has nothing to do with him. The election is over and the demand for electoral punditry has plummeted. Sure, there’s the “fiscal cliff” stuff, but that’s not nearly as popular with viewers. Trust us – we do “fiscal cliff” stories, too. The GOP primaries generated way more readers.
As the midterms approach next year, electoral politics will again rise in importance. Look for Rove to appear more on Fox then.
Second, Rove is a sharp guy. Liberals feeling shivers of schadenfreude at his current situation forget that he helped elect George W. Bush – twice – and since then has not been shy about criticizing Republicans for stuff he does not believe is in the best long-term interests of the party. Remember Christine O’Donnell, the “I am not a witch” Senate candidate from Delaware? Rove from the start called her unelectable. He tried hard to push Todd Akin out of the Missouri Senate race after Mr. Akin's controversial comments on rape. Plus, he’s still got a column in The Wall Street Journal from which to continue to spread his views.
Last, Rove is more than a pundit. He’s a player. He’s head of a "super political-action committee," Crossroads GPS, which continues to push Republican priorities in the wake of November’s loss. As recently as Wednesday, Crossroads released an ad hitting Mr. Obama’s “fiscal cliff” priorities, for instance.
Will donors angry at the GOP’s loss in the presidential race stop paying for such ads? It’s possible. But Rove works hard at maintaining support, both from top donors and the grass roots. Look at his Twitter feed: He spoke at the Kansas Livestock Association in late November. He’s got an upcoming appearance in Missouri at the Creve Coeur Club. He may be off Fox for awhile, but more than likely he’s coming soon to a stage in a state near you.