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For glum Republicans, especially at Fox News, blame game begins

November 07, 2012|By James Rainey
  • Republicans at a watch party organized by the Albemarle County Republican Committee in Albermarle, Va., listen as Fox News reports on the night's returns.
Republicans at a watch party organized by the Albemarle County Republican… (Sabrina Schaeffer / The…)

When an election doesn’t go the way you think it should, someone has to answer. So it didn’t take long for explanations and recriminations to begin flying at Fox News over  President Obama’s defeat of Republican Mitt Romney.

Fox personality Bill O’Reilly got things started relatively early Tuesday evening when he said that, if Romney went on to lose, it would be because of an emerging majority of non-white Americans who expected the government to give them things.

“The white establishment is now the minority,” O'Reilly said. “And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama's way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”

INTERACTIVE MAP: Results by state

That explanation sounded like a validation of something Americans had heard earlier from Romney himself.

The point came up when Romney addressed a group of wealthy donors last May — an event captured on videotape and released in September, rocking the Republican’s campaign. Romney told the rich supporters that 47% of the American people were “victims” who had become dependent on the government and were “unwilling to take responsibility for their lives.” A lot of people didn’t like that too much.

But O’Reilly told the Fox audience that Obama kowtowed to the layabout class. “And who is going to give them things? President Obama,” said O’Reilly. “He knows it, and he ran on it.”

Fox late night anchor Greg Jarrett’s had his own problems with the Romney loss. His voice fairly dripped with incredulity as he asked panelists to explain how Obama could have won with unemployment over 7% and other “abysmal economic conditions.” Jarrett seemed even more perturbed with an exit poll that showed about half of Americans still blamed former President George W. Bush for the poor economy. That simply made no sense. At least to him.

But there had to be other reasons for the loss. Former Democratic pollster Pat Caddell offered that Romney had run “the worst campaign in the history of modern” campaigns. Among the candidate’s failures: not attacking Obama on the issue of Libya and the death of four Americans in a September terrorist attack; and failing to have an alternative message to keep himself in the news when Hurricane Sandy struck the Eastern Seaboard.

Fox hosts also raised another perennial favorite — the specter of voting irregularities. In a late night interview, Fox News host Jamie Colby asked election attorney Doug Burns what went wrong.

Burns raised claims that the Black Panthers may have intimidated voters, renewing a story that got wide currency on Fox when two members of the New Black Panther Party stood outside one polling place in the 2008 election.

Fox’s website reported earlier in the day that one member of the leftist group had been seen outside a Philadelphia polling place Tuesday morning. Other members of the group reportedly appeared at polling places in Cleveland “where they have also maintained a presence at early voting sites,” Fox reported.

It would be hard to imagine a handful of activists dissuaded masses of voters to stay away from the polls, and it would have taken masses to change the outcome. Late returns had Obama winning Pennsylvania by about 300,000 votes and Ohio by roughly 100,000.

That didn’t stop attorney Burns from wondering aloud: “Did that have an impact on the election?”

Burns and Colby had a couple of other issues. What about the large mural of Obama that appeared on the wall at one Philadelphia precinct? The image — entirely inappropriate at a polling station, where electioneering is not allowed — was eventually covered by poll workers. It was stupid. But was it an election changer?

Colby, in conclusion, mentioned in passing that she knew “some military people who never got their ballots.” Another nice anecdote for the conspiracy files. But has there been any evidence of large or systematic disenfranchisement of the men and women in uniform? No.

It all seemed to amount to very little. And toward the end of his segment Burns seemed to belatedly concede as much, when he noted that Obama had won with a “decisive result.”

Never mind that, though. Anchor Colby promised: “We are going to look at this in the days and weeks ahead.”

Undoubtedly.

james.rainey@latimes.com

Twitter: latimesrainey

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