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On Fox News, Election 2010 is cause for cheer

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Who else was cheerleading for the Republican victory last night? To find out, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank watched Fox News's coverage of the 2010 elections for 18 straight hours.

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By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

John Boehner, Haley Barbour and other Republican leaders held a "results watch" at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington. For a true victory party, you had to go to Fox News.

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At Rupert Murdoch's cable network, the entity that birthed and nurtured the Tea Party movement, Election Day was the culmination of two years of hard work to bring down Barack Obama - and it was time for an on-air celebration of a job well done.

"That's an earthquake," exulted Fox's own Sarah Palin, upon learning the not-unexpected news that Republicans would gain control of the House. "It's a big darn deal."

"It's a comeuppance," Fox News contributor (and Post columnist) Charles Krauthammer contributed.

"I have one word," said Sean Hannity. "Historic."

And Chris Wallace struggled for words. "A gigantic - not a wave election but a tidal wave election," he envisioned.

This cheerleading on the final day of the 2010 election cycle was to be expected. Murdoch and News Corp. took the unusual step of donating $1.25 million to the Republican Governors Association and another $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which led the effort to defeat Democrats. According to a report by the liberal watchdog Media Matters, no fewer than 30 Fox News personalities have endorsed, done fundraisers, or campaigned for Republican candidates or groups in more than 600 cases across 47 states.

Prospective GOP presidential candidates Palin and Mike Huckabee are Fox News contributors - a fusion of journalism and party politics that will become more difficult for the network now that Republicans have gained more power and are preparing for the next presidential campaign. But those are worries for another day; on Election Day, it was time for a victory lap.

"A lot of Americans have been anticipating this day," Glenn Beck told his viewers, crediting his own "monumental" effort to invigorate the Tea Party movement and the "amazing things" that resulted.

Longtime Fox newsman Brit Hume dropped by mid-morning Tuesday to foretell a "huge washout of Democrats," and why: "The turning point, Bill, in this election cycle, was when the Tea Party activists . . . threw in with the Republicans" - a marriage arranged in no small part by Fox News.

The narrative did not hold up as well as the Fox News team had outlined. Some Tea Party favorites lost big, while some Republican establishment figures triumphed easily. Exit polls indicated a majority was either indifferent or opposed to the Tea Party, while the number of voters who favored repeal of the health-care law was matched by the number saying the law should be maintained or even expanded.


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