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Why Dick Morris is out at Fox, but Karl Rove survives

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Peter Kramer/NBC/AP/File

(Read caption) Karl Rove makes an appearance on NBC's 'Today' show in this file photo. He will continue to be an analyst on Fox News after this contract was renewed.

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Dick Morris is out at Fox News, but Karl Rove is in.

The future of the republic does not hinge on this development, but the divergence in the conservative commentators’ fates is nevertheless telling. Both, after all, had issued spectacularly wrong predictions on who would win last November’s presidential race. (Mitt Romney in a landslide!) Both were adamant, night after night, that their data were rock solid.

On election night, Mr. Rove went so far as to challenge Fox News’ decision to call Ohio for President Obama, which effectively called the election. In the most entertaining bit of TV all night, Fox’s cameras followed while anchor Megyn Kelly led Rove back into the bowels of the network’s political operations to talk to the number-crunchers about their decision.

But while being entertaining (and therefore profitable) certainly matters at Fox – as with all the cable news channels – it doesn’t explain why Fox gave Rove a new, multiyear contract and dropped Mr. Morris, as reported Tuesday night by Politico. The reason is more about relevance and how the network is positioning itself, say analysts of political media.

“Karl Rove is still a major player in Republican Party politics,” says Jeffrey Jones, a professor of media and politics at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.  “He still runs his 'super PAC,' and he has shown himself to be important and influential. Dick Morris doesn’t get you anything. He’s not really a player.”

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