Sarah Palin Is Not Running For President And Fox News Is Lying About It

Sarah PalinThe GOP field of candidates seeking the 2012 presidential nomination is pretty settled. The only significant holdouts are the Texas evangelical, secessionist governor Rick Perry, and former half-term Alaska governor, and Fox News bobble-head, Sarah Palin.

The thing is, Palin is not running. She has no campaign staff; no organization in early primary states; no press office. Polls place her near the bottom of the pack and losing to President Obama by 20 points. She is not engaging in public appearances. In fact, her much ballyhooed national bus tour was aborted after just six days without ever making it off the east coast.

Too bad. I wish she were running. It would add another element of comic relief to supplement Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann. With Donald Trump out of the game the comedy factor took a serious hit.

The problem is that Fox News is still pretending that she’s a candidate and, by doing so, they are deliberately lying (so what else is new). Several months ago there were four Fox employees who were also speculative candidates for the Republican nomination: Palin, Gingrich, Santorum, and Huckabee. All four were in precisely the same position with regard to the race. They were all openly exploring campaigns and discussing it in public. At that time Fox gave two of them, Gingrich and Santorum, ultimatums insisting that they declare their intentions or be terminated. There was no apparent reason for excluding Palin and Huckabee from that edict.

Since then Gingrich and Santorum officially declared and Huckabee bowed out. This leaves Palin as the only prominent Fox employee still dangling. But with no visible manifestation of a candidacy, can she be taken seriously? The fact of the matter is that if Palin was a candidate in earnest, Fox could not keep her on the payroll. At this late date they would have to insist that she either fish or cut bait, just as they did with Gingrich and Santorum. She could not be both undecided and a Fox News contributor.

Evidence of the Palin predicament occurred yesterday as two Fox News analysts admitted on the air that they temper their criticism of Palin because she is their colleague:

Greg Gutfeld: The only problem with talking about Sarah Palin is that she works here, and it’s like a coworker. And if I say something bad and I see her in the hallway I feel really awkward and wrong.

Bob Beckel: It has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with your paycheck. That’s why you feel awkward about it. I know exactly what you mean. I’ll be honest, I’ve pulled my punches.

These admissions are not surprising and are not limited to Gutfeld and Beckel. It is the law at Fox News as it was laid down by the boss:

Roger Ailes: For the first time in our 14 years we’ve had people apparently shooting in the tent, from within the tent…We prefer people in the tent not dumping on other people in the tent.

So how does a Fox News reporter cover Palin when he has been warned by his boss not to criticize fellow tent-dwellers? That’s the problem, and that’s why Sarah Palin is not a candidate for president. Fox knows that they can’t cover even a potential candidate who receives a Fox paycheck this late in the game. If Palin has not informed the network that she isn’t running, they would have to sideline her. Since that has not happened, it’s a safe bet that she has already told them that she’s out of the race.

If that’s the case, then Fox News knows that a prospective candidate has opted out, but they are keeping it secret. That is not acceptable behavior from a legitimate news enterprise, which of course, Fox is not. They are withholding a significant news item that journalistic ethics would require they disclose. Particularly because the only reason for them to withhold it is for their own financial benefit, and for that of Palin.

What’s worse is that they are brazenly manipulating the course of the election in a manner that has implications for the other candidates and, of course, the voters. It is long past time for Fox to come clean and reveal what they know about Palin’s alleged candidacy. And in the unlikely event that she really is undecided, then Fox should suspend her just as they did Gingrich and Santorum.

Fox News Fans Obama Assassination Flame, Again

What is it with these Fox News contributors who are incapable of repressing their fantasies of violence against Barack Obama? This morning on the Live Desk, a discussion on Obama’s emerging cabinet led to another disturbing and repulsive threat directed at the President-elect.

Eric Metaxas, an author of (get this) children’s books, was making the argument that naming Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State would be inviting trouble for Obama. Metaxas asserted that Clinton would seek to grab all of the attention and that her omnipotent power would overcome Obama. That analysis fails to give Obama credit for defeating her in the primary, which might suggest that he would not be so easily dominated. Metaxas, however, thinks Clinton is untrustworthy and having her in the cabinet would be like “dancing with a snake.” He likened it to President Lyndon Johnson during the Kennedy administration. I was unaware that Johnson overshadowed Kennedy. So was Bob Beckel, who then initiated the following exchange:

Beckel: Who got more attention – Kennedy or LBJ?
Metaxas: Who got shot?

Without sharpening my mind-reading skills, it’s difficult to know precisely what Metaxas meant by that. But I can’t come up with any justification for how that could be used in this context, other than that Metaxas believes that LBJ had something to with Kennedy’s assassination, and that Clinton will play the same role in the Obama saga.

There are plenty of Kennedy conspiracy theorists out there, and some finger LBJ as a participant. But Clinton would have to knock off Biden, Pelosi, and Byrd too, before she would benefit from such a plot. Consequently, Metaxes’ comment makes no sense. It is just an unnecessary passage into a dark territory that is all the more troubling due to the increasingly threatening environment that surrounds the new president. The Secret Service reports receiving more threats against Obama than any previous president-elect (thanks to Sarah Palin).

Metaxas’ remarks follow up on those made by another Fox News contributor, Liz Trotta, who said last May:

“…and now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama …uh… Obama … well, both if we could.”

And then there was Bill O’Reilly’s lynching party for Michelle Obama:

“I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels.”

These are not random crackpots posting anonymously on some blog. These are paid commentators on a major news network. The cumulative effect of these repeated atrocities could plausibly lead to real crimes as mental suggestions are planted and a general numbness sets in.

The fact that Fox gets away with it is problematic not just because of the obvious disgust that it entails, but the very notion that they persist in this behavior with little notice or consequences makes my skin crawl.

Glenn Beck To Suck On Fox News

In what may seem like an obvious and long overdue match up, Glenn Beck will be leaving CNN for Fox News early next year. This should be good news for CNN because Beck’s show has performed terribly on the their Headline News Network (HLN). It is consistently in last place amongst its cable news competitors, and is the lowest rated program on HLN’s primetime schedule.

Despite bragging about how Beck had improved the time period for HLN, Beck has actually lagged other programs on the network. Nancy Grace pulls in twice as many viewers as Beck. All news networks experienced growth this year due to the presidential election. However, while Grace increased her audience 100%, Beck managed a paltry by comparison 34% gain over his third quarter performance last year in the key 25-54 year old demographic.

By it’s embrace of Beck, Fox News is providing more evidence (as if any were needed) of their intransigent partisanship. If they were smart, they would offer a show to Tanya Acker (who I love) or Bob Beckel (not so much) just to say they have one program from a left of center perspective.

So what is Fox getting for their trouble? They are getting the most ignorant and obnoxious host on cable news. They are getting a perennial ratings loser. They are getting an unrepentant racist provocateur. They are getting an ego-centric ideologue that CNN originally described as someone “that could siphon viewers from Bill O’Reilly, Joe Scarborough and other conservative hosts.” Now he won’t need to as he and O’Reilly will be able to promote each other. There is no question that Beck will feel more at home at Fox. In a comment responding to his new contract he even admitted that Fox News will be a better fit because…

“I’m kind of an island over at Headline. It’s kind of difficult because I’ve got to bring my own audience over to Headline.”

Well he won’t have to do that for Fox, because it comes complete with its own congregation of rightist believers. That will serve as an advantage to Beck who will have access to a much larger and better trained audience than he had at HLN. Plus, he was about to lose his nightly repeat broadcast to a rerun of CNN’s Lou Dobbs. That undoubtedly had some impact on his decision to jump ship. However, his Fox show will air earlier in the day at a time that has lower HUT (homes using TV) levels, in a time period that has featured previous losers like John Gibson and Laura Ingraham – both now canceled.

The open question now is, “What will CNN do with the vacant time slot?” One option would be to return to their original mission of providing summaries of breaking news events. But since the ratings trends favor personality-driven talk, they will likely seek a new, opinionated host.

This would be a good time to point out that CNN has never had a single program hosted by a liberal. Not one. But they have cycled through multiple conservative hosts. They may want to take note that MSNBC is the presently the fastest growing cable news network thanks to Keith Olbermann’s Countdown and the newest talk show sensation, Rachel Maddow. There are numerous progressive personalities available if CNN chose to demonstrate some market savvy as well as some content diversity. They could even reward their own Jack Cafferty with a promotion. He is wildly popular and, while he’s not exactly a liberal, he connects with everyone who is fed up with whatever status quo is at play.

Will CNN do the right/smart thing? Judging by their past I would not bet on it. But they have an opportunity and perhaps they may not squander it if they get some encouragement from viewers. CNN’s email: CNN / Headline News

Update: CNN has announced that Jane Velez Mitchell, beginning tonight, will serve as the interim host for the time period Beck is vacating. It is notable that CNN is pulling Beck from the schedule the day after revealing his agreement with Fox News. Beck’s contract doesn’t expire until February. Perhaps CNN is upset at Beck’s departure (though they should be grateful). More likely they see no reason to permit a future competitor to continue to promote himself on their air.

Velez-Mitchell is an unknown quantity so far as political commentary is concerned. She has done a lot of court reporting (i.e. Michael Jackson) and is a frequent substitute for Nancy Grace. She is also an out lesbian (hello Rachel), a vegan, and an opponent of animal cruelty, for what it’s worth. Last year she contributed $800.00 to the presidential campaign of fellow vegan Dennis Kucinich.