As was announced after close of business on Friday, Fox News and Sarah Palin are ending their three year association. This bit of news, coupled with the announcement the previous week that Dennis Kucinich is becoming a paid contributor to the network, the same role which Palin is vacating, gives at least the superficial appearance that Fox News is going through some sort of political transformation, becoming Bizarro Fox if you will.
As is often the case with such a high-profile parting of ways, there are conflicting accounts of just how amicable the Fox/Palin split was and whose idea it was first. The right-leaning website Real Clear Politics quotes an unnamed source “close to Palin” as saying “It’s my understanding that Gov. Palin was offered a contract by FOX, and she decided not to renew the arrangement.” Meanwhile, Adweek says “others have said that she was not, in fact, offered a new contract.” Though to be fair, Adweek offers no quote or attribution to back up that statement.
Either way, it’s certainly the end of an extraordinarily lucrative and easy arrangement for Palin. According to Brian Stelter’s report at the New York Times, her three-year contract paid $1 million a year, all that for not having to produce her own show but merely being an occasional contributor to other shows, often filming her own segments from the comfort of her own home. (All the while no doubt impugning the work ethic of those who receive any form of government assistance, defending the Protestant work ethic etc.)
But really, there had been trouble between Palin and Fox almost from the beginning. According to reporting by Gabriel Sherman, who pretty much owns the Fox News beat, when Palin released her infamous “Blood Libel” video in response to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, she did so explicitly against the wishes of Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes who told her to lie low and let the story blow over.
Ailes was reportedly also unhappy with how long Palin strung out her decision on whether or not to enter the Republican Presidential Primary for the 2012 cycle, and even more unhappy that she gave her official announcement of her decision not to enter the Primary to right wing radio host Mark Levin as opposed to giving it to a host on Fox News. Most recently, Palin took to her preferred medium of deranged facebook posts to complain about Fox dropping her entirely from their coverage of the Republican National Convention in August, which she apparently planned to turn into a forum for rehashing grievances about what the “liberal media” did to John McCain four years earlier.
However exactly the parting of ways happened, it seems undeniable that this represents a new low in terms of political or media influence for a woman who both her cultish fans and terrified liberals (like me) hoped/feared might one day become President. It may just be her final slide into total irrelevance, a process she began with her bizarre decision to step down as Governor of Alaska for hazily explained reasons with 18 months left in her term and accelerated with her decision to do a reality show for TLC, Sarah Palin’s Alaska.
Meanwhile, the Dennis Kucinich decision is perhaps not as surprising as it seems either. Kucinich has long been a regular on the network. As Fox News is primarily an entertainment enterprise, they’ve always favored more extreme commenters from the left who they hope will say more outrageous (to the Fox News audience) stuff. Al Sharpton used to regularly appear on the network before MSNBC developed its current liberal identity and got big enough to give him his own show.