COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is calling out the Fox News Channel for its obvious bias in the GOP presidential primaries in favor of his protege Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“I don’t know,” Bush replied when asked by former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth about concerns expressed already by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and billionaire Donald Trump about the network’s fawning coverage of the first term Senator from Florida. “I think the Washington elites and the folks that kind of are the establishment elite of the of the media in Republican hierarchy, you know, they have had a different standard for Marco than other candidates. That’s okay. Look, I have higher expectations on myself than others do, so that doesn’t bother me a bit. I know this is a test. In order to do well, you have to beat expectations. That only sharpens you for the general election and that only sharpens you to be president. Whatever the conditions are, life’s not always entirely fair. You just have to put on your big boy pants and go to battle, and that’s what I’m doing.”
The exact question Hayworth asked Bush was: “A lot of talk about Fox News. Ted Cruz has complained about what he perceives as a pro-Rubio bias, and Donald Trump said today that Fox News is basically ‘in love with’ Marco. We saw Megyn Kelly the other night and a Fox reporter from the Palmetto State promoting Marco saying he was ‘surging’ in the polls and outperforming expectations. Now, some recent trends actually show him down a bit. And it appears you are the guy, at least if you are going off what happened in New Hampshire, you outperformed what was expected. Do you believe Fox is promoting Marco, and why do you think that is as opposed to you and some of the other candidates?”
This is an extraordinarily significant development, that Bush would not defend Fox News from questions about the network’s pro-Rubio bias. Bush didn’t go as far as Trump or Cruz did in their comments, but that he’s entertaining this idea—and that he’s saying that there is a “different standard” for Rubio than there is for him or anyone else—is a major development in both the storyline of Rubio’s campaign and questions about the Fox News Channel’s coverage this election cycle.