The Rove/Kelly ‘meltown’ on FNC was NOT spontaneous – UPDATED

Everything you’re hearing, reading and seeing about the big Fox News meltdown Tuesday night — Karl Rove refutes Ohio call; goads Megyn Kelly to leap from desk to confront the channel’s statisticians and demand an explanation — is wrong.

Or at least a long way out of context. Because no matter how genuine Rove’s denialist fury might have been, the dramatic climax of the scene — Kelly’s abrupt trip down the FNC hall to confront the statistician’s in their little lair — was a put-on.

Here’s how you can see it for yourself. First of all, watch the video. At 1:10 you’ll hear Kelly say “….when we practiced this before, uh, in our rehearsals…” as she starts to talk about her earpiece reception. Then notice one more thing: Right about then the perspective shifts from the cameras that followed her out of the studio to another camera crew waiting for her at the far end of the hall.

I have no idea what FNC was hoping to achieve with this pre-planned stunt. Did they want to affirm their conservative street cred by establishing the distance (physical and spiritual) between the fact guys and the Republican advocacy they perform virtually 24/7? Or were they signaling the exact opposite point; establishing that the network actually can play it straight even when it means undermining their philosophical agenda?

Your guess is precisely as good as mine. But I can tell you two things for sure: Nothing in that segment happened by accident; and if the real goal was to get as much attention as possible, they succeeded majestically..


  1. Barnes Dave says:

    Faux News from Fox News. How could this be?

  2. Mitt Romnoid says:

    Your assumption that they planned a potential segment going back to numbers crunchers is obviously true. The room was lit. But the assumption that this means Rove questioning numbers was rehearsed or planned is a giant non-journalistic (paranoid) leap.

  3. Hi Mitt – I’m not paranoid, nor blaming FNC for anything heinous or bad, in this case. It just struck me as a fairly obvious fact, and I was surprised to see that the post-mortem discussions/analyses did not seem to mention the possibility (more than a possibility, I’m fairly sure) that the seemingly spontaneous confrontation with the numbers guys was in fact planned, rehearsed, etc. And while they might not have planned Rove’s outrage to be quite so vivid, I’m sure they were all well aware of his position on the matter, plus also his confrontational demeanor. Given that much of their audience would surely be feeling the same thing when early calls put Obama over the top, I’d guess FNC producers thought this would be a vibrant way to show viewers who was making those calls, and why.

  4. William says:

    I was watching three TVs at the same time on election night and had
    FoxNews on for comic relief. A couple of minutes into Rove’s “meltdown” I
    though: You SOB. You (Rove) want to plant seeds to taint the Obama
    outcome with doubt with hopes of inciting
    a long-lasting view that the election was illegitimate. This is right
    out of the scene from “Citizen Kane” when the two outcome headline
    proofs were shown to the editor. For a victory: “Kane Wins!” — and for a
    lost: “Fraud!”

  5. Umm, this was never presented as “spontaneous.” Keep trying. #FAIL

  6. peteramescarlin says:

    Been trying to post this all morning, but tech problems persist: I’m not saying FNC did anything wrong, in this case. Seems obvious that their largely conservative/Republican audience would be unhappy with the election results, and even less happy to see a result called with less than 100, 90 or 80 percent of the ballots counted. So knowing that, and also knowing Rove’s strong feelings on early ballot counts (when they’re not going your way, at any rather) I’d wager they came up with a plan to send Kelly down the hall to speak directly with their numbers crunchers for an explanation.

    And I don’t have a problem with that.

    All I was trying to point out was that the next day coverage of the FNC election night largely presented the moment as a kind of meltdown that no one anticipated, and which shed some light on the channel. That’s all I’m trying to point out.

    Though it’s always bracing to see how instantly an internet discussion can revert to name-calling and wrath. Mr. Romnoid keeps things relatively civil, but Mr./Ms. America 1776-2008, with his or her upside-down US flag, all of which seems to assert that the United States ceased to exist following the election of the current POTUS (though obviously GW Bush held office through the first three weeks of 2009), seems like someone who would be best served never, ever reading this blog, let alone joining the conversation.

  7. BryanCooper says:

    I thought this was done right after a commercial break. What I remember is Rove is now off set, Kelly is now helped down from her chair to walk down to the data room. It makes sense that she rehearsed doing this during the break to make sure the camera/sound worked as she moved off set. It seemed she had to be helped down from the set because it was a few feet off the ground and they didn’t want her to fall on her face in front of say 20 million people? Please, let’s stop pretending to find conspiracies like the right wingers! I am probably one of the few liberals who see that Rove was actually confused about whether the statistics held up as he saw a lot of uncounted Republican counties and 25% of the vote remaining to be counted. He didn’t know at that point in time that there were many many more uncounted Democrat precincts. I have been in those rooms and know that today’s computer stats are much better than they used to be and Fox’s staff had the information at 99.95% certainty as they confirmed. I don’t blame Rove for this actually potentially informative and rare to publicly witness within a campaign conflict. I do blame Rove for spending $300 million on mean spirited advertising that did not bring our people together regardless of who is running.

  8. peteramescarlin says:

    Again, I’m not blaming FNC for doing anything wrong in that case. My point was that she clearly said they had rehearsed something that was being covered and discussed as if it had happened abruptly due to overwhelming on-set outrage. And I think FNC had found a new/better way to talk about why the numbers guys can project outcomes so early in the game.

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