The 2012 presidential election cycle saw an unprecedented exploitation of the media by Fox News. The network employed numerous on-air hosts and contributors who were also prospective candidates for the Republican nomination for president. These included Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, John Bolton, and Donald Trump. That relationship was wholly unethical by any standard, but Fox refused to comply with the professional standards that any credible news enterprise would maintain.
Now that 2012 is behind us, Fox has begun their campaigning for the next election cycle in 2014. Already at the gate are two Fox News employees who have indicated their interest in running for the senate. Geraldo Rivera announced that he is “truly considering” a run for the GOP nomination for senate in New Jersey. Keith Ablow reported on air his intention to seek the seat in Massachusetts. Setting aside momentarily the ethics dilemma this creates for Fox, these particular candidates would be a boon for professional comedians everywhere.
Geraldo is best known for hosting an epically anti-climactic television spectacle to reveal the contents of Al Capone’s secret safe. After a two hour long buildup it turned out that the safe was empty. Geraldo also hosted a syndicated talk show that featured America’s low-life engaging in televised slap-fights. More recently he caused a stir by saying that “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” Geraldo later both apologized for, and defended the statement.
Keith Ablow is the disreputable psychiatric analyst Fox employs to make absurd and insulting diagnoses of Obama and other enemies of Fox. In the course of his practice, Ablow has praised marital infidelity as evidence of strong moral character that would enhance America’s leadership. He has suggested that the children of gay parents are at risk of sexual abuse. And he frequently offers public diagnoses of the President and others in violation of the American Psychiatric Association’s code of ethics.
The qualifications of these Fox/Tea Party candidates are embarrassingly sub-par. They would have to rise significantly to be considered mediocre. These hacks have nothing to recommend them as legislators, thinkers, or public servants. All of this makes them perfect candidates for the radically dimwitted right-wingers who watch Fox.
However, for Fox to permit their punditry to toy with electoral politics and remain on the air is an affront to the profession of journalism. Fox is effectively donating valuable airtime to promote their candidacies and the platforms they espouse. What’s more, Fox cannot possibly cover them fairly because their colleagues would be afraid to criticize them for fear of retribution from the executive suites. Roger Ailes has publicly admonished his staff to refrain from “shooting in the tent,” which would make impartial analysis impossible.
This is likely just the beginning. There may be additional announcements of Foxies who think they are poised for positions of power due to the notoriety they get from being on Fox. They may be sorely disappointed. None of the candidates above got anywhere during a year when many people thought the president was vulnerable and Fox was riding high in the ratings. Now that Obama was reelected with a substantial majority and Fox has taken a devastating hit in the ratings, it would be far more difficult for their candidates to make a mark, particularly when they are as insipid as these two.
Still, for the sake of the well being of America’s comedians, we must hold out hope that Steve Doocy or Eric Bolling or Gretchen Carlson will throw their tri-corner hats into the ring. With Sarah Palin and Dick Morris off the air there is a severe drought of comic relief. So, please, won’t somebody think of the comedians?