Sarah Palin to join Fox News and diminish her brand

Posted on January 11, 2010

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Fox News confirmed today that former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin will be joining the network as a contributor. She won’t have a regular one-person show a la Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity, but she will apparently be hosting a series that will run on the network semi-frequently.

Reaction has been fairly typical along party lines. Snorting liberals giggle at the union between Palin the supposedly far-right “Faux News” (so far right that it beats all of its cable news competition) and Palin true believers think this is a fantastic opportunity for the White Knight of Conservatism to gain a broader platform – though the deal may mean a 2012 run is out of the picture.

Allahpundit thinks it’s a smart deal as any exposure would be beneficial to a young politician that has plenty of time to entertain national aspirations. But my opinion is that in taking a position as commentator, Palin is further diminishing her dynamic brand of populist conservatism and relegating herself to the sidelines.

Opinion contributors by their very nature are spectators, and while they may make compelling arguments, they can be easily dismissed as talking heads and mere bloviators. Politicians can be dismissed this way as well, but their office does give their opinions and actions more weight and scrutiny than a commentator whose job is to produce ratings.

In my estimation Palin immensely hurt herself by resigning the governorship of Alaska. Despite the rationalizations of Palin and her die-hard fans, the move didn’t represent shrewd political savvy as much as a weariness with political machinations that can be easily construed as weakness. Anything Palin does beyond that is mitigating the point that she would have been better served nationally in the short-term by remaining in Alaska.

The short-term may not be what matters, ultimately. Palin has plenty of time to prepare for contests farther down the road and she has the luxury of an ability to chart her own course. But becoming a part of the Fox News contributor pool will only make it easier for people to pigeonhole and ignore her in the near term, and while the enhanced ability to broadcast her personality and message can undoubtedly be beneficial, I can’t rouse any great excitement over the deal.

If anything, she’ll fall under even more scrutiny now, perhaps even more than is given to Rush Limbaugh. As a commentator, though, she’s now somewhat in the same league with similar limitations, but there’s no doubt her platform will give liberals fits. But it also cements what I have felt since the 2008 election – Sarah Palin is not the conservative standard-bearer nor should she be looked to as some sort of Republican Messiah for 2012. I’ll continue to root for her to succeed, but my opinion will always be tempered with a dose of reality.

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Posted in: News, Politics