Sarah Palin has taken the first preliminary steps in preparation for quitting Fox News – by joining Fox News. Adding Palin to their team as a contributor, Fox is proving that they are not afraid to lower their already submerged collective IQ. The announcement this morning came in a press release from Fox Executive VP of programming, Bill Shine, who gushed:
“Governor Palin has captivated everyone on both sides of the political spectrum and we are excited to add her dynamic voice to the FOX News lineup.”
It would be interesting to learn what Shine thinks the definition of “captivated” is. To be sure both sides of the political spectrum have strong feelings about Palin. On the right, Tea Baggers worship her, but many conservatives (including some who managed her VP campaign) regard her as ill-informed and embarrassing. On the left, Palin has inspired a virtually unanimous response that is a unique combination of disgust and amusement. In either case, Shine’s definition of “captivated” stretch’s the boundaries of reason. And his definitions of “dynamic” and “news” don’t hold up very well either. But at least he’s striving to cover both sides of the Fox spectrum: the Right and the Far-Right.
None of this hinders Palin’s ambition to be the savior of America’s forgotten and embattled white, Christian, majority. She believes that her place on the Republican ticket was where God wanted her to be and therefore, God must now want her to be on Fox News. That’s an odd assignment for someone who has spent the last two years bashing the press from the safety of her Twitter stream. Palin has still never held a press conference, but now she wants to become the press. She wants to become that which she previously sought to avoid.
Palin: I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they’ve just heard.
Of course, her new job as a pundit, even, will be telling viewers what they’ve kind of just heard, also. Except that she will be bringing to punditry a thorough lack of knowledge or insight. In other words, she’ll fit right in at Fox. And she will be even more sequestered from tough questions than ever. As a Fox News contributor she will likely not be appearing on other networks to face challenges to the positions she will take on Fox. Her colleagues on Fox are also unlikely to make things difficult for her by engaging in substantive debate. She will have free reign to pontificate in her uniquely ignorant fashion. I can’t wait for the segments she does with fellow former beauty queen, Gretchen Carlson.
So what does Fox get from this? On the surface they appear to be snapping up a cultural phenomenon with a vast legion of disciples who will flock to Fox News to clutch dearly to her every word. But in truth they are just getting another right-wing evangelist to add to their collection of partisan bloviators. Exactly how many Sarah Palin fans are not already watching Fox? Probably not enough to populate a tea party in a pantry. So the best case scenario is that Fox will succeed in attracting viewers they already have. Beyond that they will solidify their reputation as an illegitimate source for news and as an activist PR platform for Republican orthodoxy.
Palin is joining fellow Republican 2012 presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum on the Fox roster. When Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty sign up we can declare Fox the official farm team for the GOP. In the meantime, Palin will be the star rookie seeking to raise her profile by sucking up to Murdoch’s media dominion:
Palin: I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at FOX News. It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.
You betcha! The fair and balanced home of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Gretchen Carlson, Neil Cavuto, Karl Rove, Ann Coulter, Steve Doocy, etc. Somehow I think the truly thrilling part of this for Palin is the paycheck. Having Palin on Fox News has always been a good fit for both her and Fox. Neither have an interest in, or reputation for, honesty or accuracy. And both have profited from exploiting controversy and sex.
Update: Fox EVP Shine adds more humor to this story by admitting that Palin is a lightening rod for controversy and that that is exactly what Fox is looking for:
“She is one of the most talked about and politically polarizing figures in the country,” said Bill Shine, the network’s executive vice president of programming. “First off, we hope she brings that.”
Then he addresses the concern about Palin’s propensity for false statements, which he dismisses because he is going to make sure that Palin is well coached:
“Along the way, we’ll talk to her and have conversations and I’m sure everything will be fine,” he said, adding that the expectations that Palin will utter something controversial will likely drive viewership. “In the end, that’s probably going to help us in that that’s what people will want to watch.”
The best part is that Shine admits that people are going to tune in specifically to see Palin screw up. It’s the “crash on the freeway” school of television programming. I guess Shine has some experience in this area because I’m still convinced that half of Glenn Beck’s audience are liberals waiting for his brain to implode.