Is Fox Switching Sides?

Tina Brown writes in the Washington Post that Rupert Murdoch is famous for switching sides for business reasons, and he just may be doing that against the Bush administration.

“The difference between Fox News and Murdoch’s other news outfits is that Ailes is almost as formidable a figure as the boss. And Ailes is a former GOP operative to boot. During the Katrina crisis Fox has excelled at the basics of covering the story while toning down some of the political bluster. Ailes does not spend his day reading Rupert’s tea leaves, but if Bush continues to slump in the polls, a shift of gravity to the center — or any rate a lowering of the bullhorn — might ultimately serve his interests as well as Rupert’s. Being constantly tagged as a Bush stooge has become a drag for Ailes, whose success at Fox owes more to his inventive TV gifts than to Republican positioning.

Recent friendly meetings between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Murdoch, recorded in the New York Observer, may be early signs of embryonic bet-hedging. Has Rupert begun to stir and put his loyalties in play again? Given his oft-expressed contempt for “gabfests” it’s interesting that he will be showing up for the Clinton Global Initiative that starts in New York today.

Murdoch knows that occasionally shifting his political support in an unexpected direction is a tactic that increases his power. It means no one can ever take him for granted, and it is an effective means of convincing politicians that helping him with his business interests is both prudent and wise — that what’s good for the News Corp. is good for America/Britain/Australia.”