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BC Beat

2/08/2008 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Fox News, Obama Bound by Brotherly Love

Relations between Sen. Barack Obama and Fox News Channel haven't exactly been warm since the Illinois Democrat began his presidential campaign.

A year ago, the cable-news leader pounced on a scurrilous report (since debunked) that Obama attended a radical Islamist madrassa as a child. Although the senator later shrugged off an Obama/Osama joke made by Fox News chief Roger Ailes, he joined fellow Democrats in boycotting a Fox-sponsored debate.

At presstime, Obama had not agreed to a Fox debate with Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Feb. 11.

But it turns out Fox News and the Obama campaign are bound by blood.

David Rhodes, Fox News' senior VP of newsgathering, is the older brother of Ben Rhodes, one of the speechwriters responsible for Obama's orotund oratory.

David, 34, who has been with Fox News since its 1996 inception, is responsible for the network's news coverage. But while some will no doubt look for evidence of punches pulled—or redoubled, as it were—in Fox's Obama coverage, David says brother Ben is discreet.

"He's very careful not to give me any particular insight into his job," he says.

So what do they talk about when they go out for a beer?

"We both share a tremendous interest in politics, so obviously that comes up," he adds. "Lately we've both been very busy, so there haven't been a lot of beers."

KCRA Wins Sans 'Loser'

NBC's Super Tuesday programming paid off for the network. While American Idol and House won the night for Fox, NBC vanquished ABC and CBS—from 8-10 ET, with reality series The Biggest Loser, and again at 10, with its own primary coverage.

But one NBC affiliate found success in counter-programming its own network.

Hearst-Argyle's top-rated KCRA Sacramento took the network feed from 7-8 and again from 10-11, when Brian Williams and Tim Russert hosted a Super Tuesday wrap-up. In between, the station pre-empted Loser to feature primary coverage driven by its own news division—and handily beat the local ABC and CBS outlets.

"We think we have a responsibility to provide the news and information on a big day with what was going on in the presidential election and important propositions," said KCRA President/General Manager Elliott Troshinsky.

Troshinsky doesn't begrudge NBC's own programming choice. "They did what they thought was right for the network," he says.

And, for what it's worth, neither does CNN president Jon Klein. "Every network is different," he adds. "I don't think it's a value judgment; they are trying to run their business."

Unmasked

Since 2005, a trio of anonymous sports fans have railed against sports journalists and commentators—particularly ESPN's Joe Morgan—on the blog Fire Joe Morgan.

Using the pseudonyms "Ken Tremendous," "Dak" and "Junior," the editors skewer ridiculous statements and apparent ignorance of Morgan and his peers.

"Yes, there are a lot of terrible analysts out there," explained Tremendous in a July 2007 post. "But only Joe has what we really crave: a unique blend of ignorance, inexplicable anger, arrogance and haughtiness."

Last week, the editors decided to remove their masks and reveal that they are all TV writers in Los Angeles: Alan Yang (Junior), formerly a writer on NBC's Last Call With Carson Daly and a consultant on South Park; Dave King (Dak), a writer for TBS' Frank TV; and Michael Schur (Tremendous), a writer and co-executive producer on NBC's The Office.

In a Feb. 5 post, the trio explained why they decided to reveal their identities now. After talking to other bloggers "and like 28 minutes of low-grade soul searching," wrote Schur (who has also appeared in The Office as Dwight Schrute's brother Mose), they decided that their victims deserved to know who their accusers were.

Besides, he added, "we figured no one cares that much one way or the other, so why not?"

How about Joe Morgan? Alas, calls for comment were not returned at presstime.

With Marisa Guthrie, Ben Grossman and Alex Weprin

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