On ABC’s This Week today, host George Stephanopoulos introduced Karl Rove as “President Bush’s former deputy chief of staff and political strategist, an informal adviser to John McCain’s campaign.” But Rove immediately objected to this characterization, saying “I wouldn’t even go that far, informal adviser, no way.”
Stephanopoulos pressed Rove on his relationship:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you pass on information to them, you give them advice.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chit-chat, ok. Well I think that that justifies, that that qualifies as informal, but let’s move on.
– Rove’s consulting firm has been disseminating 2008 electoral map projections to influential media outlets and party operatives. In late March, McCain media advisor Mark McKinnon participated in a public conversation about the campaign with former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd. During the talk, McKinnon displayed maps analyzing the states and their electoral votes; the maps bore the header “Karl Rove & Co.”
– At the beginning of April, McCain embarked on a biography tour to introduce himself to the public, which may have been Rove’s idea. In an April 4 blog post, the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder noted that Rove had laid out the idea for such a tour during a Feb. 20 appearance at the University of Pennsylvania. Rove proceeded to list the very locations that McCain would eventually visit in April. (Although, McCain actually spoke in Prescott, AZ, rather than Rove’s suggested Sedona, AZ.)
– On April 22, while doing on-air coverage of the Pennsylvania primary for Fox News, Rove let slip that he “saw Senator McCain recently at a private gathering” where the general election campaign was discussed.
By correctly identifying Rove as an informal McCain adviser, Stephanopoulos is making an appropriate disclosure that Rove’s part-time employer, Fox News, has thus far been unwilling to do. In the 110 days that Rove has been a Fox News contributor, the network has not once identified Rove’s ties to the campaign, despite the ample evidence of an active relationship.