Sarah Palin to appear regularly on Fox News

FRIEND OF FOX: Sarah Palin will have a new soapbox.
FRIEND OF FOX: Sarah Palin will have a new soapbox. (Eric Engman/getty Images)
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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sarah Palin, who has been broadcasting her political views on her Facebook page, has just acquired a far more potent media megaphone.

By joining Fox News in a deal announced Monday, the former Republican vice presidential nominee gains instant access to an audience that gives Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly the highest ratings in cable news -- and a clear boost if she attempts another run for national office.

"This gives her a platform she can use to stay relevant, to stay in the public eye and to flush out some of her policy positions," said Republican strategist Todd Harris, who once worked for Palin's 2008 running mate, John McCain. "To the degree it gives her a direct line to the kinds of people who vote in Republican primaries, it does give her an advantage."

Out-of-work politicians are increasingly using television and radio to stay on the political radar and keep their options open, which is one reason that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, an also-ran in the 2008 White House race and possible 2012 contender, is now hosting a weekend show, also on Fox.

The former Alaska governor will appear as a pundit on various Fox shows, beginning Tuesday on "The O'Reilly Factor," and host an occasional series that was already in the works, "Real American Stories," which will examine inspirational tales involving ordinary citizens who have suffered setbacks. Palin has used similar language in speeches, and apologized during the presidential campaign for referring to small towns as "the real America" and the "pro-America areas of this great nation."

Palin said in a statement that she is "thrilled" to be joining Fox, adding, "It's wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news."

While the Fox deal instantly ignited speculation that she is weighing a presidential bid, Palin has given no such indication. But even if she never seeks political office again, Rupert Murdoch's cable channel will provide her with added visibility -- and income -- in the wake of her tour for her best-selling memoir, "Going Rogue."

Dan Schnur, who directs the politics institute at the University of Southern California, said the impact may be muted. "Unless she gets her own show at some point, it might not be a huge direct benefit," said Schnur, who worked for McCain's 2000 presidential campaign. "If she just pops up from time to time without a set schedule for her supporters to plan for, she's just another talking head in a cast of thousands." In addition, Palin's appearances may largely be limited to when she is traveling, since satellite transmission is difficult from her Alaska home town of Wasilla.

Some Democrats scoffed at the melding of the Palin and Fox brands. "Not since Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag has there been a couple so well suited for one another," said Hari Sevugan, the Democratic National Committee's press secretary.

Bill Shine, Fox News senior vice president, called Palin "one of the most dynamic individuals in politics today. We want to know what she thinks."

Shine did not dispute the perception that Fox, whose contributors include former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, has become a comfortable home for Republicans no longer in office. But he noted that the only other female vice presidential candidate -- Democrat Geraldine Ferraro -- is also a Fox analyst, although her appearances have been limited in recent years. Michael Steele was a Fox commentator before becoming the Republican National Committee chairman.

Fred Malek, a Republican donor and Palin loyalist, sees the arrangement as a strong match. "I do know that there was a lot of demand and opportunities" for Palin, he said. "It is a very good thing for her and a coup for Fox."

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