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Fox News and the Republican Party, while still technically distinct entities, are moving to purge figures who are so controversial they're damaging the conservative brand, Politico's Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen report. An anonymous GOP strategist told Politico there is a deliberate effort to "marginalize the cranks, haters and bigots — there’s a lot of underbrush that has to be cleaned out." The strategist requested anonymity because the crank marginalization is not yet complete and he or she doesn't want to inflame the cranks. New York's Jonathan Chait points out this indicates the cranks are powerful and numerous enough to make it dangerous to denounce them on the record.

But we can guess who the hater marginalizers are, or at least see what they have to fear, in an incident of conservative infighting from Tuesday. Karl Rove's super PAC, American Crossroads, created the Conservative Victory Project to weed out Todd Akin-esque candidates.  Brent Bozell, creator of the Media Research Center, denounced them as fake conservatives. American Crossroads' Jonathan Collegio dismissed this criticism in an interview with a Washington radio station, saying, "Bozell is a hater and he also has a long sordid history hating Karl Rove. He has weird personal axes to grind." The backlash was immediate, and Collegio apologized.

Bozell called us “fake conservatives” — which is language that perniciously and unfairly judges the motives of others, and fails to acknowledge that there might be honest differences on strategy within the conservative movement.

For my part: I said that in the heat of a talk radio debate, I regret contributing to the vitriol, and I apologize to Mr. Bozell if it offended him. Believe it or not, I’m a big fan of both him and MRC.

So not only did Collegio say in his apology that the differences were merely about strategy -- not any of the policies that could conceivably have made the Republican Party less popular -- he also claimed to be a "big fan" of the haters.

Even Dick Morris, who was so spectacularly wrong in his election predictions, seems to think his purge from Fox News might not be permanent. Morris told CNN's Piers Morgan that Roger Ailes spoke with him last week, and told him he was being let go for being wrong. But, Morris said, Ailes offered these comforting words: "In this business, you're up, you're down -- nothing is final or fatal."

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