I suppose I should have weighed in on this already, given that it's been an entire day, but in case you were wondering, here's what I think about Fox News' decision to finally give Dick Morris the boot. Erik Wemple probably spoke for many people when he said, "this is a time to celebrate Fox News. It has seen the lunacy of Dick Morris, and it's taking the appropriate step to inoculate itself against the ravages." This comes fast on the heels of Sarah Palin being shown the door, some post-election house-cleaning that thankfully has left sage contributors like Karl Rove standing.
So what does this show? It doesn't, alas, indicate that real accountability is coming to the pundit industry. I've always thought it's too simplistic to view Fox News as nothing more than a partisan organization, as many people on the left do. Since he started the network in 1996, Roger Ailes' genius has lied in a careful melding of business and ideology, in which neither one ever moves too far ahead of the other and each serves the other's needs. Fox is extremely valuable to the Republican party and the conservative movement, and it's also a huge money-maker for Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp. Anyone who appears on the channel has to satisfy both strands of that ideological/financial double helix.
And as Morris shows, satisfying the ideological needs of Fox's viewers is more complicated than just telling them what you think they want to hear. Morris was so laughably wrong in almost everything he said that even many die-hard conservatives no doubt found him to be a buffoon. When he tells you over and over again that there's no way your side can lose, and then they do, his credibility suffers even with people who want to believe him. But what really did him in, I think, was when it came out in December that he was, in all probability, running a scam on the Fox News viewers whom he implored to contribute to his super PAC to defeat Barack Obama. None of the money went to that cause, instead probably finding its way back into Morris's pocket. It's one thing to treat Fox viewers like fools—most of the network's personalities do that every day. But it's quite another to treat them like marks. If you do it as blatantly as Morris did, the entire brand is threatened.
In the end, it became too obvious that Dick Morris wasn't working for the betterment of the conservative movement, or the Republican party, or Fox News. He was working for the betterment of Dick Morris. Once that became all too obvious, I'm sure Ailes had no qualms about showing him the door. After all, there's plenty more where he came from.
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