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Going Fox, rogue Republican Sarah Palin joins Fox News Channel

January 11, 2010 | 12:50 pm


One-time TV journalist Sarah Palin, who dabbled successfully in politics for a while, has decided to return to her media roots. (See video below.)

Fox News confirms this afternoon that the 45-year-old former mayor, city council member, state oil and gas regulator, unsuccessful lieutenant governor candidate, Alaska reform governor, unsuccessful Republican vice presidential nominee and most recently successful book author, has signed a contract with the top-rated cable news channel, Fox News, as a commentator across a number of programs.

Look for her on FNC as early as Tuesday evening.

The mother of five, including a special needs infant, will also host a show on inspiring American stories. While other networks struggle over the unfunny scheduling of late-night comics, it's another commercial coup for Roger Ailes, who's turned the youngish network the Democratic White House loves to hate into a real moneymaker.

Both sides issued the usual pre-printed PR yada-yada today. Palin is "thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News" which is "a place that so values fair and balanced news."

"Gov. Palin has captivated everyone on both sides of the political spectrum," said Bill Shine, programming exec vp. "And we are excited to add her dynamic voice to the FOX News lineup."

Despite Palin's often-barbed comments about biased media inaccuracies and her own....

...initially clumsy reaction to repetitive, if perky, questions, the move makes great sense for both sides.

As shown during her 2008 GOP presidential campaign with what's-his-name from Arizona and her recent best-selling book tour, Palin has a personality that attracts large numbers of people on both sides of affection which is, after all, the commercial goal of a TV channel.

Fox News has a special appeal to conservatives, but ratings show it gets about a third of its audience from Democrats, which Palin would need some of in any future run for elected office.

The multi-year job will pay her well not to live in Wasilla, Alaska. It will keep her in the public eye, force her to become familiar and at least telegenically conversant with a wide range of national and international issues and allow her to continue making speeches, paid and otherwise, around the country while honing her sometimes less than razor-sharp media skills among helpful colleagues. None of which would be possible had she not controversially resigned the governor's job last summer.

Also on Fox as a paid contributor is former top Bush presidential adviser Karl Rove, who has his own book -- "Courage and Consequence" -- due out in early March and recently praised Palin's "Going Rogue" as a good read. And ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also appears on the channel with nutrition and weight-watching tips. Just kidding. It's politics, of course, of the GOP species.

At the moment, Palin's preferred method of public comment has been her Facebook page. (Latest entry from Jan. 5: "President Obama’s meeting with his top national security advisers does nothing to change the fact that his fundamental approach to terrorism is fatally flawed. We are at war with radical Islamic extremists and treating this threat as a law enforcement issue is dangerous for our nation’s security....")

These comments sometimes get picked up by regular media and passed through its filter but hardly conveys the kind of heavyweight heft she needs to counter the perception of intellectual shallowness among many. No doubt see the comments below soon from detractors who dislike Palin so much they can't read enough about her and share their negative thoughts.

A perch on Fox News will give the former governor direct access to millions of viewers in the run-up to 2011, the decision year for serious presidential candidates aiming for the White House in 2012. She might even have some more things to say about what's-his-name in that building.

But even Palin would seem unlikely to comment on the color of his skin or amazingly educated manner of his speech, as Obama's fellow Democrat Harry Reid has had to apologize for, though he apologized for a poor choice in words not any insulting thoughts. Still trying to imagine a better choice of words for any senior Democratic leader in public life to comment on an African American's skin color and surprisingly educated manner of speaking.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Fox News Channel