Fox On The Run

Fox On The Run

by digby

Matt Gertz from Media Matters wrote about the Tea Party scammers and the relationship with Fox News yesterday:

I noted a few months back TPM Media's report that the PAC that organized the Tea Party Express, a series of right-wing nationwide bus tours and rallies, had sent nearly two thirds of its spending during a recent reporting period right back to the GOP consulting firm that spawned it. Today, Politico's Ken Vogel provides more details of the Tea Party Express' operations, including the original memo from a consultant with the firm, Russo Marsh + Rogers, proposing its creation.

Vogel also reports that a substantial percentage of spending from the PAC, Our Country Deserves Better PAC, continues to flow directly into the coffers of Russo Marsh + Rogers. That appears to have been the intent from the beginning; Vogel reports that the firm's operative, Joe Wierzbicki, stated in proposing the Express that it could "give a boost to our PAC and position us as a growing force/leading force as the 2010 elections come into focus."


This seems as good a time as any to point out Fox News' consistent, full-throated support for the Tea Party Express since its creation. The network even embedded correspondent Griff Jenkins with the Express' first tour; his hard-hitting reporting included declaring its riders "the America that Washington forgot." Our Country Deserves Better PAC repeatedly used Fox's coverage to flog its own fundraising efforts. And notwithstanding the plethora of free media the Express got from the network, the PAC ran ads on Fox urging viewers to "Join the Tea Party Express" on its tours.

Most recently, Fox News provided all-day coverage of last month's kick-off rally for the Express' third national bus tour. Correspondent Casey Stegall provided reports from the rally in Searchlight, Nevada, which highlighted the "real energy you feel from" the protestors; back in the studio, Neil Cavuto declared, "God bless these folks." And of course, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin was on hand to provide the event's keynote address, which was carried live by the network.

All that was just fine with Fox. They have never minded helping fill the coffers of professional GOP con artists. (It's their own version of egalitarianism.) But then some of the little people started getting in on the action and they went ballistic:

Angry Fox News executives ordered host Sean Hannity to abandon plans to broadcast his nightly show as part of a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati on Thursday after top executives learned that he was set to headline the event, proceeds from which would benefit the local Tea Party organization.

Rally organizers had listed Hannity, who is on a book tour, as the headliner of the four-hour Tax Day event at the University of Cincinnati. The rally, expected to draw as many as 13,000 people, was set feature speakers such as “Liberal Facism” author Jonah Goldberg and local Tea Party leaders. Participants were being charged a minimum of $5, with seats near Hannity’s set going for $20, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, which reported that any profits would go to future Tea Party events. Media Matters for America noted that Hannity’s personal website directed supporters to a link to buy tickets for the Cincinnati rally.

But senior Fox News executives said they were not aware Hannity was being billed as the centerpiece of the event or that Tea Party organizers were charging for admission to Hannity’s show as part of the rally. They first learned of it Thursday morning from John Finley, Hannity's executive producer, who was in Cincinnati to produce Hannity's show.

Furious, top officials recalled Hannity back to New York to do his show in his regular studio. The network plans to do an extensive post-mortem about the incident with Finley and Hannity's staff.

“Fox News never agreed to allow the Cincinnati Tea Party organizers to use Sean Hannity’s television program to profit from broadcasting his show from the event," said Bill Shine, the network’s executive vice president of programming. "When senior executives in New York were made aware of this, we changed our plans for tonight’s show.”

There's no limit to how far Fox hosts can go to hustle the rubes for ratings and to help the Republican party. But they get "furious" when the rubes try to cash in for themselves. All they have to do is find a way to blame the liberals and they're home free.