Tea Party and the Right

How Fox News Helps Its Own Employees Run for Political Office

Many conservatives have used their Fox News employment to position themselves for a run for office.

For nearly two years, Fox News knew its "political analyst" Angela McGlowan would run for office in 2010. After all, she said so on their airwaves.

"That's all right, sweetie, that's my district, and I'm going there soon to beat your Democrat colleague, honey. I'm going soon. 2010 is my year. Announcing it right here," McGlowan said to fellow contributor Bob Beckel on the May 14, 2008, edition of America's Election Headquarters.

Despite her stated intentions, McGlowan continued to be employed by Fox News until her contract expired in February 2010 and she "officially" announced her congressional candidacy in Mississippi. Between May 2008 and February 2010, McGlowan made dozens of appearances on Fox Business and Fox News, according to a Nexis search. During that time, she frequently spoke like she was already a candidate for office. In a January 15 appearance on Fox Business' Cavuto, McGlowan said she "had four health care town hall meetings in the state of Mississippi" and "a lot of people don't want this health care bill. They want health care reform but they want the right type of reform."

On the February 6 edition of America's News HQ, McGlowan -- still a contributor -- defended the tea party movement and fished for Mississippi voters, stating: "What I'm doing in essence is I'm concerned about Mississippi and the issues." 

When she finally became an "official" candidate, McGlowan made appearances on America's Newsroom and Hannity.During the campaign, McGlowan regularly touted her Fox News affiliation and also received a late endorsement from Fox News contributor Sarah Palin.

McGlowan's strategy -- using her Fox News employment to position herself for a run for office -- isn't an isolated example. In Ohio, former Fox News host and contributor John Kasich is running for governor after spending nine years on Fox News, which paid him $265,000 in 2008. Like McGlowan, Kasich made waves about running for office years before formally announcing his bid on June 1, 2009.

A February 20, 2007, Columbus Dispatch article quoted Kasich stating, "I've made it clear to people that I'm going to look at the governor's office. I hope that Ted Strickland will do a good job so I won't have to go around the state doing this stuff." On March 27, 2008, the Dispatch reported that Kasich announced "he is paving the way now for a gubernatorial bid" and quoted Kasich stating, "I'm going to go forward even more aggressively, and we're going to continue to ramp it up (for a gubernatorial run)."

Despite his announced intention, Kasich continued to appear on-air as a Fox News contributor and host. Between March 28, 2008, and June 1, 2009, Kasich was a regular fixture on Fox News' primetime programming, especially as a guest-host for cable's top rated news show, The O'Reilly Factor. According to a Nexis search, Kasich guest-hosted or appeared as a guest on Fox News at least 123 times. Indeed, the day after the March 2008 Dispatch article, Kasich guest-hosted for O'Reilly.

During those appearances, Kasich regularly spoke about his own background and accomplishments, and the home of his potential voters, Ohio. Fox News personalities also lauded Kasich as a potential candidate. On June 17, 2008, Fox News contributor Frank Luntz said he's "hoping that Kasich runs for governor of Ohio. I think John would be an outstanding candidate." On July 15, 2008, Hannity told Kasich: "I'm advocating that you run for governor one day. And you're not ... You're not going along at all."

The adulation continued after Kasich officially became a candidate. Hannity repeatedly referred to Kasich as "governor" and "soon-to-be governor," and reportedly held a pricey fundraiser for him last October. Kasich received two $10,000 contributions from Fox-parent News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch and his wife, while News Corp. gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which helps elect candidates like Kasich.

Kasich has also regularly appeared on the network for softball interviews. On The O'Reilly Factor, while Kasich made a fundraising appeal, Fox News put the URL for Kasich's website onscreen. Hannity, meanwhile, told Kasich on July 8, 2009: "You do me a favor. Go get elected governor, although why you would ever want that job, you're out of your mind, but good luck. And I'm supporting you in the effort."

The Fox strategy also extends to people who have made frequent guest appearances on the network. Republican Florida attorney general candidate Pam Bondi -- who does not appear to have been a "Fox News contributor" -- made at least 100 appearances on Fox News between 2002 and December 1, 2009 (the day of her announcement), according to a Nexis search.

The Palm Beach Post noted that Bondi's "frequent appearances on FOXNews over the past decade have turned her into a quasi-celebrity among the conservative faithful and translated into friendships with Sean Hannity, the mere mention of whose name elicits applause from conservative voters on her bus tour, and other FOX favorites." The Postadded that "Bondi's not shy about dropping the names of her FOX friends. She touts her connections with Hannity and Palin's endorsement at each of her stump speeches and in Ocala delighted the audience with her praise of the network."

Since officially announcing her candidacy, Bondi appeared on the April 13, May 14, July 1, and August 17 editions of Hannity, where she was introduced as "our friend." Bondi recently appeared on Greta Van Susteren's program on September 13 (Bondi's opponent appeared after her).

To be clear, simply being associated with Fox News isn't a magic bullet for victory. While Kasich is in a competitive race and Bondi won her primary, McGlowan finished third in her congressional primary. Still, both McGlowan and Kasich used Fox News as a publicity platform and collected Fox News paychecks even after announcing their intentions to run. McGlowan told the New York Times in February that her tie to Fox News "helps with getting ready to run, and it helps with name ID. ... But me having been on Fox News is not going to win this candidacy for me."

The Fox News strategy will continue in the next election cycle, as the channel houses no fewer than five Fox News contributors who are considering runs for president and are already trying to curry favor with conservatives through Fox: Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and John Bolton.