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Tim Pawlenty rejected by Fox News for support of Mitt Romney

Tim Pawlenty wanted to be the latest in a slew of former, current, and future Republican presidential candidates to join the crew as an analyst at Fox News.

But there was a complication. Pawlenty had already decided to throw his support behind Mitt Romney, the only centrist Republican who actually has a shot at winning the Republican nomination. And that didn't sit right with Fox News head Roger Ailes, according to the Daily Beast.

Ailes, it seems, is picking his favorites and using airtime and interviews to push his favorite candidate.

According to one analysis, it's not Romney, who's getting support from both of Minnesota's recently successful Republicans: Pawlenty and Norm Coleman. And it's definitely not Michele Bachmann, once the darling of Fox News, but has since become an target for dismissal.

It is, of course, Rick Perry, the most George W. Bush-iest of the candidates. That's according to a new story in the New Republic, with one reporter tracking Fox News' coverage over nine grueling days. What Walter Shapiro found was that Bachmann had fallen out of favor with the talking heads on Fox's panels. As Shapiro writes:

Without a major gaffe or gotcha moment, Bachmann was almost entirely absent, like a Red Army general excised from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia after being purged by Joseph Stalin. She was almost never pictured on screen, even though she was on a four-day campaign swing through Florida.
Tim Pawlenty endorsed Mitt Romney on Fox , but won't be appearing there anytime soon.
Tim Pawlenty endorsed Mitt Romney on Fox , but won't be appearing there anytime soon.

Well, okay, there was at least one major gaffe during that Florida swing -- but we'll forgive Shapiro for missing it, given that Fox News likely didn't spend much time on Bachmann's meteorology, for obvious reasons.

Even more surprising is how quickly Fox shifted its coverage in favor of Perry. Shapiro found that Perry was almost constantly in Fox's news rinse-cycle, with four separate shows taking on Politico for writing a story called, "Is Rick Perry dumb?" (Fox's answer: No, Poltico, and you're mean for even asking.)

But even stronger evidence of that leaning comes in the form of Pawlenty's rejection. T-Paw had also once been in favor in the Fox offices: Consider that when he went to endorse Romney, Pawlenty did so to the downright gleeful morning panel on Fox & Friends.

But, as Howard Kurtz writes for The Daily Beast, that endorsement turned Ailes's sizable stomach.

Three weeks after dropping out of the race, Tim Pawlenty showed up to ask for a gig at Fox. But there was a complication: Pawlenty was on the verge of endorsing Romney. "I'm not sure I want to sign you as a paid spokesman for Romney," Ailes said.

This shouldn't be mistaken as a principled stance. Ailes has rotated in and out paid spokesmen and self-promoting politicians for years. Indeed, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum worked for Fox until the moment they announced for president; Sarah Palin still does.

More likely, then, Ailes rejected Pawlenty not because he was going to support a candidate, but because he was going to support the wrong one.

Man, T-Paw can't catch a break. Maybe MSNBC is hiring?

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