Rick Santorum complained this week that Fox News is "shilling" for Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primaries. On the radio show of Brian Kilmeade (a Fox & Friends co-host), Santorum said that Romney's inability to "seal the deal" despite positive coverage on the conservative news channel and a huge spending advantage proved that he "doesn't have the goods" to lead Republicans to victory in November. Kilmeade pushed back, saying that Fox had given Santorum, once a paid Fox contributor, as many chances as Romney to appear on the air. So, really, whose side is Fox on?
Santorum has it backwards: Santorum's "charge doesn't really make much sense at all," says David A. Graham at The Atlantic. "Not only have many Fox personalities praised Santorum and bashed Romney," the channel has repeatedly shown the former Massachusetts governor in a bad light. This Wednesday, Fox's America Live host Megyn Kelly incensed Romney by asking him whether the GOP's core really wants him. And Romney's "very testy" review with anchor Bret Baier last November marked a low point for his campaign.
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Fox has been accused of shilling for candidates before: "Cynics call it the 'Fox primary' — the alleged process by which the channel allegedly decides what candidate it wants to back," says Erik Wemple at The Washington Post. Last fall, the pro-Romney crowd was accusing Fox of bias, saying the news channel "favored [Newt] Gingrich to fend off Romney." Is it really so "implausible" that the same folks are now pushing Romney to make sure Santorum isn't the GOP nominee?
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If Fox treats Romney like the frontrunner, that's because he is: Maybe Fox News is giving Romney more air time, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. Maybe it's also pointing out that, with Romney's lead in the delegate count, it's nearly impossible, mathematically, for Santorum to win. That's not bias — just acknowledgement that Romney's the most likely nominee. "If Fox is guilty of being pro-Romney simply for calling him the presumptive frontrunner, then I'm 'pro-Romney' too. And I'm not pro-Romney."
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