“On Election Night, I tweeted that Republicans shocked about Mitt Romney‘s loss Tuesday should be angry at a conservative media that misled them about the former [Massachusetts] governor’s chances,” Adam Serwer wrote Thursday for Mother Jones.
“In the waning days of the race, much of this manifested in raising doubts about the polls and comical exaggerations about the possibility of a Romney landslide. Rush Limbaugh told his millions of listeners that ‘everything except the polls points to a Romney landslide,’ but the problem went beyond mavens like Limbaugh to afflict more well-regarded political analysts like Michael Barone and George Will.
“. . . Analysts like Karl Rove — who through his stewardship of outside spending groups had a clear financial interest in giving upbeat assessments of Romney’s chances — were given prominent perches to hoodwink the viewers of Fox News and the readers of the Wall Street Journal. And as Media Matters’ Simon Maloy documents, Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s pro-Romney blogger, expressed a far less sanguine view of campaign events after the election than she did when she covered them in real time.
“. . . Conservative media lies to its audience because much of its audience wants to be lied to. Those lies actually have far more drastic consequences for governance (think birthers and death panels) than for elections, where the results can’t be, for lack of a better word, ‘skewed.’ “
On Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” conservative Newsweek columnist David Frum, who served as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, called Republican leaders “cowards” and said “Republicans have been fleeced, exploited and lied to by the conservative entertainment complex.” A surprised host Joe Scarborough agreed and said it reminded him of French generals in World War II who kept reassuring British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that “they were putting up brave defenses when they knew they had already lost.”
Serwer also noted, “Much of the conservative media is simply far more cozy with the Republican Party than its Democratic counterparts (as exemplified by the numerous Fox hosts and contributors who moonlight as Republican fundraisers), which makes necessary detachment difficult.”
Exhibit A has been Rove, the GOP fundraiser and strategist who is also a Fox News Channel analyst. The New York Times’ Jeremy W. Peters Wednesday revisited Election Night on Fox News, when the network called Ohio for President Obama. “Karl Rove stood just off camera, his phone glued to his ear. On the other end was a senior Romney campaign official who insisted that the network had blown the call,” Peters wrote.
“What followed — an extraordinary on-air confrontation between Mr. Rove, a Fox commentator, and the network’s team of voting analysts — drew renewed focus on the Republican operative’s complicated and conflicting roles in this presidential campaign.