Sarah Palin is 'an idiot'; some guy said it, so it must be news, right?
A judge would rule it hearsay.
The entertainment industry would label it gossip.
But for New York magazine, it's a perfectly usable quote featuring some Republican-or-other who's "close to (Roger) Ailes" -- could be his tailor or the guy who does his taxes, for all we know -- saying, among other things, the Fox News Channel boss "thinks Sarah Palin is an idiot. He thinks she's stupid."
This little bomb was tucked into a long, rambling article about Ailes, Palin, Glenn Beck and the familiar topic of the possible future implosion of Fox News. FNC fired back in....
He said, "I know for a fact that Roger Ailes admires and respects Sarah Palin and thinks she is smart. He also believes many members of the left-wing media are extremely terrified and threatened by her. Despite a massive effort to destroy Sarah Palin, she is still on her feet and making a difference in the political world.
"As for the 'Republican close to Ailes' for which the incorrect Palin quote is attributed, when Roger figures out who that is, I guarantee you he or she will no longer be 'close to Ailes.'"
A piece at Politico.com also included a comment from John Coale, a Palin advisor who's married to Fox News host Greta Van Susteren.
Regarding the anonymous quote, Coale wrote, in part, "I know Roger and Sarah quite well, and nothing could be further from the truth."
Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, remains with FNC as a commentator, since she has not yet announced any candidacy or exploratory efforts.
But Palin did tell Van Susteren on her "On the Record" show that she has the "fire in her belly" to consider seeking the office.
A large chunk of the magazine piece is devoted to subjects surrounding the imminent departure of Beck, whose weekday show has achieved ratings -- even if they're down from their peak -- beyond the wildest fever dreams of most daytime programmers, along with giving a whole new spotlight to the humble chalkboard.
The article also credits Ailes and FNC with having nurtured the "tea party" movement. Maybe. But most trace the movement's start to February 2009 and an on-air rant from Rick Santelli on CNBC -- a channel that Ailes ran before he went to FNC.
So why do magazines whose readers probably don't even watch Fox News write lengthy articles about it?
Perhaps it's a question of being the tallest poppy in the field.
When asked today about attacks on the cablenet from such self-appointed watchdogs as Media Matters for America, FNC senior political analyst Brit Hume said to commentator Bill O'Reilly on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor," "None of this would be happening, Bill, if we were not successful."
-- Kate O'Hare
Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment-news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH
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Photos: Mario Tama / Getty Images North America (Palin); FoxNews.com (Beck).