Opinion Brief

Why Fox News put Karl Rove back on the air

Last week, the internet was abuzz about Roger Ailes' decision to bench the prominent GOP commentator. This week, he's back. What gives?

Well, that was a pretty short exile: A brief 27 days after Fox News reportedly benched Karl Rove (and Dick Morris) for their ill-fated Republican boosterism before and especially during the November election, the GOP strategist once known as "Bush's brain" was back on the air Monday night, talking about the fiscal cliff with Brett Baier on Special Report. He's scheduled to appear on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor on Wednesday. "Gentlemen, welcome back," Baier told Rove and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi at the start of the eight-minute segment. 

I guess Fox didn't like having its dirty laundry aired, especially by the liberal media, says Marty Davis at Chickaboomer. My guess is that "Fox boss Roger Ailes allowed Rove on to stick it to [New York magazine's] Gabe Sherman," who got a lot of buzz for breaking the news of the ban. Another reason to believe that spite is behind Rove's rehabilitation: "Sherman is also writing an unauthorized book on Ailes."

Or maybe Fox just saw the error of putting Rove in the penalty box, says Paul Mirengoff at Power Line. Sure, "Rove didn't have a good election night," but he and Trippi "had an outstanding election season," dating all the way back to the primaries. And you'll notice who isn't back on the air? "Rove isn't exactly a 'no spin zone,' but he isn't Dick Morris either." Unlike Morris, and just about every other commentator on cable news, I always learn something from watching Rove do his thing.

It's worth noting that as much as Rove's hiatus was characterized as a "ban" by "gleeful liberal commentators," it was no such thing, says Ana Marie Cox at The Guardian. Fox producers just had to get permission to book Rove and Morris. In fact, even when he was off the air, Rove was "still a highly paid contributor" at Fox. "You know what we call doing less work for the same money around my house? A promotion." 

Barring a new revelation from New York's Sherman, we may never learn why Rove is apparently back in Ailes' good graces, says Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair. Rove isn't saying: He talked at length — and disingenuously — about the fiscal cliff, but Rove didn't discuss "Fox News' alleged ban on Karl Rove." Besides, would "a Fox News ban really count as lifted if it's marked with an appearance on Special Report with Bret Baier?" I mean, "speaking of bans: Did the Fox News public-relations department prohibit efforts to promote Special Report"? Or, to frame it more philosophically, "if a boring, poorly marketed tree falls in the forest and no one is around to change the channel, did it make a sound?"

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