FOX News -- and the conservative commentariat more generally -- helped lose the election for Romney.
Others who assisted his defeat have already been identified (rightly) as "hardliners in the party" or more specifically "misogynist Republicans".
However, we should not forget the likes of FOX News and over-mediatized loony-right personalities who were on TV screens far more than anyone could have ever asked for during the last four years. In classic conflict media fashion, they took it on themselves to whip up the Republican base (in the process confusing it with the Tea Party) and keep them rabidly energized until polling day.
They worked tirelessly to deliver nasty attacks full of coded racism. They entertained conspiracy theories that even flatearthers would run to the edge of the planet to avoid. It was as if they felt they had to out-do the paranoia-driven blogs on the far right, from where their ideas very often seemed to have emerged.
Nothing was ever too irrational or too offensive for them, as long as it fit an anti-Obama narrative and kept the foamy-mouthed watching the adverts.
And it all seems to have worked to the extent that they intended it to. They did keep the base excited. The ratings over the years and their book sales -- and perhaps the popular vote yesterday -- demonstrate that.
But they probably did something else in the process. Over time, they associated the Republican Party with some crazy ideas and gave more mainstream commentators a steady supply of ammunition to lob at the GOP and their lead candidate, making them appear extreme too. So, as well as mobilizing the right, these more radical media outlets and talking heads also energized the left.
In addition, they surely turned off a significant part of the centre and the undecideds. For people in the middle, crazy-sounding attacks sound, well, crazy. Somewhere along the line, some individuals in this segment must have realized that, actually, they're not mad as hell to the point of not being able to take it anymore.
Of course, it's not like voters were being asked to cast ballots for Limbaugh or Beck or Coulter or O'Reilly or any of the others, let alone FOX News. Still, the association of these media stars with one party was always clear, and their extreme comments would surely have scared some people away from Romney. Maybe even enough to help swing the vote.