I happened to flip to Fox on Super Tuesday when they called Virginia for Donald Trump. It was the very moment Karl Rove was insisting the race was tightening in Rubio's favor. Fox executives were collectively smacking their heads again.
“But for his perch on Fox News, Karl would be in political Siberia,” says a top Republican strategist. “The going joke is that he must have a picture of Roger Ailes in his underwear to keep his contract.”
Notice that Karl was not invited to talk about Saturday’s elections.
Although Karl Rove wasn’t banished from Fox a la Dick Morris, his appearances on the GOP establishment’s media arm have clearly been greatly curtailed. Unfortunately for Karl, they will likely be curtailed even further: don't expect to see him on any network, including Fox, on election night this year.
At least he is allowed on establishment media. Right-wing media absolutely hates his guts. They have for many years, now.
If you don’t believe me, Google the phrase "Rove-Stupid".
It's a term that right-wingers have coined for GOP elitists who do something so remarkably dumb that it's counterproductive. It’s really a thing. (Mitt Romney's recent tone-deaf speech on Trump comes to mind.)
But do you REALLY want to know just how toxic Karl Rove has become?
Look no further than Crossroads.
You remember Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and his "nonprofit" Crossroads GPS? Of course you do: that
was still is Karl Rove's SuperPAC. It still exists—barely.
According to the same New York Magazine article, the Center for Responsive Politics put Karl's group for 2015 at having just a little over $750K. Let me try to put that in perspective. Back in 2012, fresh off the dark money extreme giveaway from the conservative 5-member SCOTUS majority, Crossroads was able to suck up $117 million!
All of that money was
swindled raised from millionaires and billionaires to whom Rove promised a Mitt Romney victory. The polls were skewed, the minorities who voted in 2008 would somehow disappear, and the big moneyed interests would continue to get their way as always.
But then reality hit. Mitt didn’t just lose—he lost big. And the Crossroads investors were in shock.
“I had every expectation we would be the victors,” says Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone, who gave half a million dollars to Rove’s American Crossroads.
One of the donors, New York hedge-fund manager Daniel Loeb, even tried to sue both Crossroads and Fox News for “lying to him" about an assured Romney victory. (Just for the record, it didn't work.)
So convincing was Rove's promise of a definite Romney presidency that, right before the election, Crossroads sent out a "top-secret presentation" showing the new president would win a "mandate" if all the donors would send Karl's group an emergency $25 million. The donors were told this was needed for a flood of negative, anti-Obama ads that would seal the deal.
Oh, rare is the time a conservative must face to reality. They will deny climate change or believe in trickle-down no matter what science or facts have to say; but on election night 2012, there was no way to deny the electoral votes. Obama won handily. Democrats enjoyed the victory, but not nearly as much as Karl Rove's infamous meltdown in front of millions on Fox News.
Karl Rove had everything riding on that election, so he couldn’t accept defeat. He actually bullied Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace into an attempt at intimidating their own analysts into taking back their call for Obama in Ohio! Even knowing that Karl Rove was heavily invested in a Romney win, the Foxes all played along—and cemented their partisan reputation in an epic fail that is still enjoyable to watch:
Just 10 seconds in, Chris Wallace states that the Romney camp has “real doubts about Ohio” while acting as if Karl Rove just had legitimate concerns that he was just relaying from the Romney campaign. According to Ann Romney, that wasn’t the case at all. She claims it was Karl Rove who was calling the Romney camp and insisting the Fox analysts were wrong and that Romney could still win. The Romneys are still upset with Karl for feeding false hope (and putting off a more timely concession, which would have helped with Mitt’s planned 2016 run).
Yes, Karl Rove is still around. No, he’s not begging for change on a street corner. Yet for him, something much worse has happened.
Karl Rove is no longer a player.
In 2016, the biggest, most consequential election in our history, Karl Rove is not only not an “architect," he is barely listened to. He likely will never be again. No one is calling him anybody’s “brain.” While other shady characters from the Bush era have their defenders, Rove is the one whom all factions of the GOP (conservatives, establishment, populists) have given distance to. He is no longer respected. People still call him “turd blossom,” but not as a playful nickname anymore.
We’ve all moved on to ever more shadier characters to fight, like Ted Cruz and the Koch brothers. However, as we lob verbal grenades on the right wing this election season, it’s nice to be reminded that at least one of the Bushmongers got a bit of comeuppance. It may not be jail, which is what he deserves for outing Valerie Plame, but in lieu of that, I’ll happily accept his career failure.