Operation ‘Butter Up FNC’ in Full Force by Politico

Politico has been working diligently to defrost its icy relationship with Fox News as of late. And it appears to be paying off, or at least moving in a cozier direction.

FishbowlDC has learned that FNC’s media relations department has been forced to “soften up” on Politico. “From the top it has come down that media relations have to be softer than they are,” a source who requested strict anonymity told FBDC. While Politico reporters may not start popping up on FNC programs by, say, next Tuesday, it is headed that way. “There are certain shows that would like to have them on and I think that will happen,” our source said.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The two media entities are still in mid-thaw. Fox News and Politico have notoriously not gotten along, with a string of media writers placed on the infamous Black List (which exists no matter what they claim and, in fact, is discussed monthly). Just three months ago FNC PR snubbed Politico reporters, saying they “tend not to rate well” on the network. Politico responded with a sticky-sweet profile on “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier. Fast forward two months to today and Politico has a three-page story on “how Fox News has stayed on top” of cable ratings for a decade. Both stories are by Mike Allen.

We wrote Allen as well as Politico‘s editor-in-chief John Harris to ask if they’ve seen any uptick in FNC booking their writers. To Harris: “Are there any talks between Fox News and Politico to get more airtime for your reporters in the way MSNBC has?” To Allen: “In the past Fox hasn’t booked too many Politico reporters. Has that changed of late? Have you been booked on Fox before?” We also reached out to some of the talent at FNC to get their take on the matter. So far, no word.

Allen’s buttery piece quotes FNC execs as well as talent…

Executive Vice President Bill Shine, anchor Shepard Smith and Senior Vice President Michael Clemente are all quoted in Allen’s story.  And, of course, several graphs are dedicated to the TV production genius of FNC’s CEO Roger Ailes.

There were some good bits. For example, in the story, Smith says the last thing Ailes tells him after a meeting is that he “loves” him. And there’s the eight-hour Fox-watch sessions executives have “every now and then” in which they critique every bit of the production, from the graphics to the clothes the anchors wear.

But otherwise, it’s just like every profile written on FNC in the past, but with the timing and makings of a publication that clearly wants airtime with the ratings giant.

> Update: Fox News EVP of Corporate Communications Brian Lewis refutes our story: “FBDC’s anonymous sources are either clueless or lying. Then again, posting fiction is nothing new for the site. Our relationship with Politico remains unchanged and the only directive we have received from Roger is to keep doing what we are doing.”