Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fox News gives Romney the shove

After the network I was watching had declared Obama the winner on election night, I thought I’d see what Fox News had to say. I was pleased to find that they too had called the race for Obama. But Romney had not conceded. Initially that wasn’t startling, but I began to worry that he really might not give up and that we might be in for weeks of wrangling and litigation. We now know that he did consider exactly this course of action – his aides reportedly had their suitcases packed and were ready to depart on waiting planes to pursue challenges to the apparent results. While Romney weighed his options, what was Fox News doing?

The answer is that Fox was growing increasingly impatient. Their anchor interviewed the Fox correspondent at the Romney party in Boston, and pushed him to acknowledge that the delay was more than normal. That wasn’t all. Not much later, the anchor expressed at some length the idea that an essential part of the ritual of elections was the gracious concession, followed by the gracious victory speech, meant to enact the symbolism of bringing us all together after the divisions of the campaign. And, the anchor said, it was time for this to happen. I had the strong sense that the Fox anchor believed that Romney or his aides were watching Fox right then and there, and that the anchor was telling him that it was over. There was even a suggestion, though only a brief one, that Romney hadn’t been such a good candidate in the first place – and, again, now it was time for him to go.

A little while later, Romney went. More precisely, another network (I think it was CBS) reported that Romney had made the required concession phone call to Obama. Then, Fox said, the campaign “pool” reporters got the same news. And then Fox got confirmation too. It’s interesting that Fox seems to have been the last, or at any rate definitely not the first, to be told. Was that because the Romney people were angry about having been lectured to over the airwaves?

I haven’t seen this aspect of the Fox coverage discussed since Tuesday – though I’m not reading the conservative sites whose writers might have been the most likely to actually be watching Fox that night. But this moment when Fox helped give Romney the shove shouldn’t be forgotten.

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