One of the overlooked details of the forever-fight over the widely-debated conservative leanings of the Fox News Channel (besides the fact that a third of its viewers are Democrats) is that it was Fox that broke the then-shocking story in 2000 of candidate George W. Bush’s 24-year-old DUI charges.
Why, you wonder, would an old Maine story matter, regardless of the source?
The breaking story of Bush’s unrevealed 1976 DUI charges in Maine came just four days before the 2000 election. The Bush-Cheney ticket was tied then in national polls with the Democrats’ Gore-Lieberman ticket and was, in fact, ahead in Maine.
Bush ended up losing Maine to the Democrats the next Tuesday and several other states by narrow margins. Had the Republicans won those electoral votes, there never would have been any Florida recount, hanging chad controversy or Supreme Court case. Florida’s electoral votes wouldn’t have changed anything.
I never did understand why Fox News felt the DUI story was newsworthy. It was an old story that had been covered before (as had his other problems with alcohol and how he conquered them) and, well, it wasn’t really news. All it really did was hamstring George Bush’s candidacy, which is not at all a move you expect from Fox News. It smelled of a hit piece, though from a completely unexpected source.
I would love to read a decent account of how the DUI story made it to air. Perhaps once we get a few years’ distance from the Bush Presidency, that will be one of the tales that are fully told.