Karl Rove challenges Fox's election-night data operation in 'odd civil war'

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After Fox called Ohio for President Obama Tuesday night, Karl Rove challenged the network's decision, leading to the unusual sight of anchor Megyn Kelly being filmed walking through Fox's corridors to interview people at the network's decision desk. I couldn't find one clip of the whole episode, but here it is in three parts:

Rove's objections:

Kelly's walk to the decision desk:

And her interview with the decision deskers:

Tampa Bay Times media critic Eric Deggans called it an "odd civil war" on the network, where he writes that "Rove's resistance seemed to cap a tough evening for Fox News fans."

Jeremy W. Peters and Brian Stelter write the episode was "the most bizarre on-air encounter of election night" and saw some resonance with the way some Republicans viewed the media throughout the campaign:

However odd, the exchange perfectly captured one of the persistent sources of strain between the media and Republicans throughout the presidential campaign. Ever skeptical of a media bias toward Democrats, conservatives complained repeatedly that polls this year were showing an erroneous and biased edge for Mr. Obama.

Will Oremus used Rove's skepticism i/r/t Ohio and other events on the network during its election coverage to illustrate what he called the "Five Stages of Fox News Grief":

As midnight nears and reality sinks in, Megyn Kelly takes out her frustration on liberal colleague Susan Estrich: "You, having managed the Michael Dukakis campaign, are familiar with the losing feeling."

Washington Post blogger Erik Wemple said the episode, in a sideways way, reflected well on Fox:

Whatever you think of Rove’s objections — perhaps the whining of a Republican partisan who didn’t want to let go; perhaps the legitimate objections of a pure political genius — the moment of dissent at the Fox desk spoke to one of the network’s strengths. On-air dissent, that is.

You must know by now that there are animated GIFs of the whole episode.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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