Fox News has announced a major change in how they will handle Fox commentators Dick Morris and Karl Rove.
Fox News programming chief Bill Shine has reportedly sent out orders mandating that program producers must get permission before booking Rove or Morris. The change that comes just one month after the 2012 presidential election, when Rove and Morris issued a number of statements that left critics questioning Fox News' accuracy.
According to multiple Fox sources, Roger Ailes has issued a new directive to his staff changing the news company's relationship with its most popular political commentators. Under the new directive, producers will have to get Ailes' permission before booking the duo.
The announcement likely comes as a result of Rove and Morris' performance in the days leading up the 2012 election. Both Rove and Morris were prominent on Fox’s programs in the months and weeks leading up to the November election, although a series of comments made by the pair left viewers and critics questioning Rove's and Morris' intentions.
The announcement likely was driven mainly by Rove's performance on election night. The former Bush administration adviser captured national attention, and that of the Fox News brass, with his repeated charge that the networks' election team was wrong about President Barack Obama winning the critical swing-state of Ohio. At one point host Megyn Kelly even asked Rove, "Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better? Or is this real?"
The incident reportedly left Fox News executives questioning Rove's role within the organization.
"Multiple sources say that Ailes was angry at Rove’s election-night tantrum when he disputed the network’s call for Obama," said a source within the news organization, according to New York Magazine which broke the story.
Meanwhile, the decision to bench Morris was likely based on similar questionable statements. Morris, appearing on Fox News the Monday before the election, predicted a landslide victory for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
"It will be the biggest surprise in recent American political history," Morris said at the time. "It will rekindle the whole question on why the media played this race as a nail-biter where in fact Romney’s going to win by quite a bit."
Romney was eventually defeated by President Obama by a wide margin.
Morris was forced to discuss his errors later that week. Speaking in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Morris said his prediction was partly the result of his support for Romney, a key point critics of Fox News pointed out.
"Sean, I hope people aren't mad at me about it… I spoke about what I believed and I think that there was a period of time when the Romney campaign was falling apart, people were not optimistic, nobody thought there was a chance of victory and I felt that it was my duty at that point to go out and say what I said," said Morris. "And at the time that I said it, I believe I was right."
It remains unclear to see if the temporary change will have any impact on Rove and Morris. Both have numerous outlets: Rove continues to raise funds through his political action committees, while Morris will continue to pen his weekly column in the New York Post.
While Rove and Morris are seen as key figures on the Fox News program, executives have a history of ousting popular figures following controversial incidents. Former Fox News host Glenn Beck was asked to leave after a series of controversial statements made regarding President Obama's race.
That said, the cable news station seems to have made its self comfortable with widespread criticism related to its political programming. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a frequent guest on the show, has repeatedly issued a number of statements that have drawn the ire of liberals and conservatives alike.
Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.
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