Sen. Rand Paul, who's made no secret of exploring a 2016 presidential run, recently met privately with News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and Fox News head Roger Ailes, POLITICO has learned. The meetings -- Paul sat down with each man separately -- came as Kentucky Republican and tea party favorite has been working to smooth concerns among Republicans and influencers about whether he shares his famous libertarian father's views on issues like national security.
When he's not on the defensive over plagiarism, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has time to reach out to some powerful players in Republican politics. Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman reported yesterday:
Jon Chait's reaction was clearly the funniest: "Presumably, Paul made the pitch for his candidacy, and Murdoch and Ailes indignantly replied that they are journalists, not operatives, and any request for favorable coverage was completely improper for a fair and balanced news station. Affronted by the implied discounting of their journalistic integrity, they stormed out of the meeting, while still taking care not to let their offense color Fox News's coverage of Paul. Or possibly not."
But in the larger context, what I find especially interesting is the role Fox News' leadership now plays within the party.
In June, for example, we learned that Republican members of the Senate's Gang of Eight "talked privately" to Fox News hosts, hoping to lobby the media figures so the network wouldn't undermine the legislative prospects.
It's formalizing a role that used to be more implied: Republicans who want something arrange meetings, not with RNC leaders, the Speaker's office, or major donors, but rather with Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch.
I don't blame Rand Paul for the outreach; I just find it interesting that that the outreach has become a necessary part of the Republican process.
Remember, Fox News leaders have tried to play kingmaker in Republican presidential politics before, so it stands to reason that likely candidates would come knocking on the network's doors.