These days, if you lose your run for public office but make some kind of impression along the way, it’s almost guaranteed that you have a career in media to fall back on.
Fox News hired Herman Cain after he lost his run for president. Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) lost reelection to the House and now he’s working as an Internet TV show host. Al Gore even started his own cable channel (which was recently sold to Al Jazeera English). Fred Karger is hoping to get in on that trend.
A retired Republican consultant who ran for president in 2012 as the first openly gay candidate on a major party ticket, Karger is spending his time now trying to get on TV. Or radio. Or the Web. Or whatever medium will have him.
“I think there’s room in any broadcast medium,” Karger told TheBlaze in a recent interview. “Be it TV, radio, Web for that voice.” By “that voice,” Karger means moderate Republican.
“I think there is a need for a moderate and very bipartisan Republican voice in the discussions taking place on news shows today,” he said in a release to various news outlets on Monday (his emphasis).
Of course, moderate voices haven’t had much success in media. And any success they have had has paled in comparison to the hardliners often heard on the cable news channels and talk radio (think MSNBC’s Ed Schultz and conservative radio host Alex Jones). Those voices, center-right or center-left, are more often used as punching bags for the more aggressive ones (think Sean Hannity vs. Juan Williams). The only moderate Republican who has reached notable success is probably MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, a former House representative.
Even so, Karger, 63, says now is the time for a softer approach from Republicans. “I’m trying to bring back some sensibilities to the Republican Party,” he said. “Bringing the party back to its roots. Reaching out to minorities. … There’s a great unhappiness with Congress because it is so partisan.”
Of course, Karger, who is in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, has had some not-so-mild moments. During the election he accused National Organization for Marriage President Maggie Gallagher (a same-sex marriage opponent) of lying about her marital status. He suggested Gallagher either married her current husband in order to help him get a green card, or may be hiding the fact that she’s actually divorced. She denied it.
Karger may not be wrong time wise, however. A recent Gallup poll on negative descriptions of the GOP showed that 21 percent of national adults specifically describe the party as “inflexible/unwilling to compromise,” a description that outpaced any other (even 26 percent of just Republicans said the same). And on Capitol Hill, there has been at least some attempt by both Republicans and Democrats to find some common ground.
The so-called “Gang of 8” senators and their bipartisan push for immigration reform, for example. Of course, the Republican National Committee also just published a nearly 100-page report calling on the party to be more inclusive.
But why media? If government is where the dysfunction is, why not run for office again and make a difference there?
“I’ve run now and I’ve done that and I think it’s important that I move forward,” said Karger, who aside from his presidential run, has never run for public office, though he has worked on campaigns, including Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign in 1980. “I didn’t get into the [presidential] debates But I think I made some inroads as a candidate running for office when I’d never run for anything.”
Karger moved to New York from his home in Laguna Beach, Calif., so that he “can be readily available to work here or in Washington, D.C.” Should the opportunity arise, that is.
It has in the past. His website features a reel of his TV hits ranging from the 1990s up to this past presidential election. He was once a regular on “America’s Talking,” a mid 1990s CNBC cable channel spinoff run by Roger Ailes, now CEO of Fox News. He said he has reached out to Ailes and others at Fox News for a possible role as a contributor.
Karger bumped heads with Fox not too long ago, however. During the election, he filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against the cable channel for barring him from preventing in a Fox-sponsored Republican primary debate. He believed he had met the qualifications to be a participant.
Asked if there’s one place in particular he sees himself, perhaps CNN which is in the middle of rebranding itself, Karger said no. “I’m wide open. I would love to be a moderate voice on Fox. I love MSNBC, they’ve been wonderful to me,” he said. “I’ve probably had more appearances there than anywhere. I’ve been on ABC, CBS, CNN. I’m not going to try and narrow it down. I’m new at this and willing to talk to anybody. I’m doing a lot of follow up calls.”
Karger also says there’s no place he won’t go, even on potentially hostile programs. “One of the things I pride myself on is getting along with people,” he said. “I’ve been on Bryan Fischer’s show and I’ve had some unpleasant things to say about his organization.” Bryan Fischer is the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association and well known for his past anti-gay remarks.
“I’ve been on and we got on very well,” Karger said. “I think it’s very important that we not eliminate anyone.”
(H/T: TheBlaze Blog)