Gingrich's presidential step raises questions for Fox News
March 1st, 2011
05:47 PM ET
12 years ago

Gingrich's presidential step raises questions for Fox News

Washington (CNN) – Now that Newt Gingrich has formed a presidential committee, should he still be employed by Fox News? Can he be?

ABC News broke the story Tuesday morning and multiple news organizations, including CNN and Fox News, followed not long after, reporting Gingrich was set to announce he is forming a presidential exploratory committee later in the week – the first step in what is most likely a bid for the White House.

While reporting the news, Fox also identified Gingrich as a contributor to their network, begging the question, how much longer will that be the case?

At about 12:30 p.m. ET, CNN reached out to Fox News for clarification on whether Gingrich's upcoming announcement will affect his status within the network. After all, Gingrich's contract with the network is believed to be quite lucrative, and there is potentially a lot of money at stake for the former House Speaker.

CNN is still awaiting a response from Fox News on the issue.

When it comes to the law however, a spokesman with the Federal Elections Commission tells CNN there is no express prohibition forbidding a presidential candidate from being simultaneously employed by a television or radio outlet.

But, says FEC spokesman Christian Hilland, "There are some issues that a candidate should be mindful of so that air time isn't considered a prohibited contribution to her or his own campaign."

Specifically, there might be legal issues if Fox allows Gingrich to promote his own campaign or attack other opponents. That would essentially mean Fox would be giving him free airtime, which would require equal time for other candidates. On the other hand, Fox and Gingrich are likely in the clear, according to FEC regulations, if Gingrich restricts on-air comments to subjects other than the presidential campaign.

However, the FEC often makes case-by-case determinations on what is permitted in situations like this, meaning they will likely not weigh in on the issue until a formal complaint is filed.

Still, it is clear none of this is expressly impermissible until Gingrich becomes an express candidate for office. That won't occur until he raises at least $5,000 or refers to himself as a presidential candidate, according to the FEC.

The law aside, should Fox, which bills itself as a non-partisan media organization, still employ candidates who are running for president?

Kelly McBride, a senior faculty member of the Poynter Institute – a nonpartisan media watchdog organization – says the network does face some risk continuing to employ Gingrich.

"The risk is they will be seen as an extension of the Republican Party or the Republican Party will be seen as an extension of Fox," McBride said.

"By traditional standards, when someone is clearly a candidate for public office, they step off the air. Fox has a different strategy and it is not clear how they are going to address them yet."

The issue isn't confined solely to Newt Gingrich. In fact, four other big name Republicans currently employed by Fox are also considering a presidential bid: former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

CNN faced similar circumstances in the 1990s with Crossfire co-host Pat Buchanan when he ran for the Republican Presidential nomination. CNN ended Buchanan's duties on the show once it was clear that he was seriously considering a presidential bid.

Buchanan, who now works as an analyst on MSNBC, offered his view Tuesday.

"If I announce an exploratory committee for President, I should and would take a leave of absence from the network," Buchanan said.

Filed under: Fox News • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Al-NY,NY

    ..and Faux News is NOT an arm of the Republican Party.....riiiiight. The ones that do run will stay with the only network that will give them exclusive air time to spew their garbage, crucify Obama and still collect their paychecks.

    March 1, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  2. Tired of the nonsense

    Anyone with any common sense knows that to be employed by FOX means you're ineligible to run for president. Heck, it makes someone ineligible to run for dog catcher. To work for FOX news shows a serious lack of judgment, sense and intelligence.

    March 1, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "For" Faux Noise? More like ABOUT Faux Noise. Simple fact is they "employed" these partisan ideologue nincompoops in order to help funnel them money to use for their campaigns. Go ahead and tell me that any of them does ANYTHING that even remotely justifies the oodles of money they are receiving from Faux and NewsCorp. Go ahead. Tell us what that "work" might be and then compare it to the relative screwjob suffered by your average public employee or private middle-class worker for long hours and actual contribution to their employer and the GOP's current efforts to make that all even worse for those people. HMMMMMM? How many millions are they raking in for showing up for a few minutes here and there to vomit scripted talking points, fabrications, misinformation and demagoguery and bobble their heads about like the empty vessels they are...then disappear shortly thereafter on a private jet to suck some speaking engagement fees out of a convention full of numbnuts in tinfoil hats?

    March 1, 2011 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  4. Marge

    Fox don't care, they know they can get away with anything they do. So Newt the Fruitloop will continue to be at Fox News. He will continue to be asked his outrageous opinions and then maybe he'll tell us that Einstein was wrong about everything cause he

    March 1, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. once upon a horse

    Ol' Newty better get used to side stepping questions if he's going to truely run for POTUS. He has enough skeletons in his closet to open a boneyard and you can bet the "evil left wing media" is going to constantly hit him on them.

    March 1, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. Clwyd

    Sure he can! It is in keeping with their "Fair and Balanced" lies!

    March 1, 2011 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. LacrosseMom(real one)

    Have to laugh about the "possibility" of Newt as a presidential candidate for the GOP/TEAS!! An adulterer, a man that has been married 3 times, personally he is a creep! The list of clowns running for the GOP/TEAS nomination keeps growing. What a joke!

    March 1, 2011 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. seriously???

    Fox concerned with fairness? Since they certainly don't care about stuffing misinformation and opinion in their "news", I doubt they're going to worry about whether or not they're following any rules. They will do anything to get a Republican elected if it means the 24 hour Gingrich Show (or whoever the R nominee ends up being) right through the election, claiming to be defending their right to free speech, thus forcing the issue into a lengthy court battle.

    March 1, 2011 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  9. TM

    Expecting ethics from Fox or it's entertainers is a lost cause.

    March 1, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. Michael Scarborough

    The exploratory committee will be exploring whether his personal life is a disqualification for the presidency. It is if you are an advocate of traditional, conservative family values. Personal matters didn't ultimately hurt Clinton's run for the White House, but he wasn't a conservative either. The problem here is the two years Gingrich spent attacking Clinton about his personal life. Oops! People who live in glass houses....

    March 1, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  11. Right, like Fox is going to act ethically ...

    "The risk is they will be seen as an extension of the Republican Party or the Republican Party will be seen as an extension of Fox." Does *anyone* not already think this is true? Puh-leeze

    March 1, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |

    This is pure liberalism. Blasting another news organization just because you disagree with them. Please CNN...I like looking at your news on TV and the computer, but please, just report...don't criticize other news organizations. WE THE PEOPLE can make up our own minds. Thank you and God Bless.

    March 1, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. Egghead

    Don't see why it should be a problem. About a quarter of Fox New contributors are presidential candidates. They can stop the charade of being a 'news' channel and openly do what they already do. Fair and balanced aggressive conservative republican opinion shaping.

    March 1, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  14. Inmyopinion

    Absolutely not. I don't think anyone running for the presidency should have any personal involvement with Fox, CNN, MSNBC,etc...except to be interviewed, questioned.

    March 1, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  15. Bill

    This is a none issue until he officially announce he's running for President. Based on this article's title, who exactly is "raising" the question? I guess it's only CNN, right? CNN Political Unit my behind. You should call yourself the CNN Left Wing Unit. Fox News' rating is much higher than yours and this is a chance for CNN to sling mud the Fox and a Republican at the same time. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Report news instead of creating it. How's that for a "Change you can believe in"?

    March 1, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  16. Jack MERRICK

    This is the most positive news we have had for a while, Gingrich has the savvy and experience to bring the republican party to a productive level. Someone with common sense is needed in Washington

    March 1, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  17. T'sah from Virginia

    All of the FOX NEWS president "wanna-bees" are using that platform to campaign – AND, they're getting away with it!!! This is the ONE reason why NONE OF THEM will be elected!!!!

    March 1, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  18. Indy

    Of course he would still be employed by Fox, they are the ones that will be his boss all through the campaign and if he ever got to the Whitehouse (God forbid) they would tell him every move that he would make. It is no secret to anyone in the world that Fox and Koch are trying to buy their way into the Whtehouse so they can finally rule the middle class with an iron fist.All of the Fox candidates will be handled by the hands of the Fox puppet masters.

    March 1, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  19. A keen observer

    This philandering adulter is wasting his time running for President. Even the "religious family value" voters of the republican party cannot condone his repeated adulterous conduct. He is probably trying out the replacement for his current wife because he has been married to her for about ten years which seems to be his limit. The fact that republicans would even consider this miscreant for elected office tells something about their moral values. Are all republicans in the cesspool or just a mojority of them?

    March 1, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  20. oldguy

    A run by Gingrich is not about the possibility of winning the election, but like Palin, of an intense, prolonged visiibility to enhance his brand. Looking at his incredibly hipocritical history, only a person with ulterior motives could possibly be alerting the press to these "exploratory" activities.

    March 1, 2011 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  21. lgny

    We are facing an exceptional situation in our political history. Rupert Murdock owns a major news, publishing, and broadcasting empire and has bought a stable of conservative candidates who will either run for the presidency or generate enormous quantities of supporting flak for which ever of them runs.

    Just as Teddy Roosevelt launched trust busting when the big companies became so powerful they threatened to use their unfair advantage to disrupt the marketplace, it is time to review our laws to examine whether one person/corporation should have such enormous political power. thanks the the Supreme Court ruling, he currently has no limit on what he can choose to spend in the next election to support his chosen candidates.

    March 1, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |

    NEWT... He's aptly named!!! What a scum bag.

    March 1, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  23. DAVE

    i am not worried about fox news the home of the mental cass glenn beck as much as i am worried about campaign money gingrich raises. he needs a federal agent to manage the money because gingrich has trouble miss using campaign money when he is in control. he thinks ite his own personal piggy bank to do with what he pleases!

    March 1, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  24. Patrick from Minnesota

    He might as well take a job at Fox Opinion. Besides, they're already the propoganda arm of the Republican Party.

    March 1, 2011 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  25. Former GOPer

    Newt, you are disgusting!

    March 1, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |