Palin’s Fox News Contract In Jeopardy?
After an outburst last night on Facebook when her appearance on Fox News Channel was apparently canceled, Sarah Palin’s contract with the network may be in jeopardy:
Last night’s kerfuffle between Sarah Palin and Fox News was a classic display of Sarah Palin being, well, Sarah Palin. But her Facebook outburst complaining about Fox canceling her appearance at the Republic National Convention reveals something deeper about Palin’s often rocky relationship with the network. Palin’s contract is up in January, and according to sources, Fox News executives are now weighing what kind of deal they would sign, if they sign one at all.
Essentially, Palin and Fox are in the early stages of an elaborate contract negotiation. Palin earns roughly $1 million per year from Fox, making her the highest paid contributor at the network. Fox executives have been disappointed with her ratings; Palin has been disappointed by Fox’s decision to not give her top billing on bookings. According to sources, the relationship at times has gotten so bad that much communication has been conducted via Palin’s husband Todd. One thing is clear: It’s risky for her to push the envelope too far. Fox has been a central pillar of Palin’s national reach since quitting the governorship, and without the network’s platform, it’s unclear how she could maintain even her current, much-diminished level of visibility.
Palin’s Facebook outburst surely didn’t endear her to Roger Ailes, who prizes message discipline and loyalty among his troops. Ailes has been at times frustrated with Palin’s erratic public moves since her decision to ignore his advice to remain quiet in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in 2011. Palin crossed him again when she gave her decision not to run to talk radio host Mark Levin, not Fox.
Palin returned to the air last night for the final night of the convention, but it seems pretty clear that there are some tensions going on here and that Ailes isn’t entirely pleased with the former Alaska Governor at the moment. There also seems to be some degree of personal animus here too. As noted above, Ailes was rather upset with Palin when she chose to make the much-anticipated announcement about whether or not she would run for President in a phone interview with a talk radio host rather than on the network that’s paying her a million bucks a year:
Sarah Palin’s announcement that she wouldn’t run for president disappointed her legions of admirers — but it infuriated Roger Ailes. The Fox News chief wasn’t angry about the decision itself. Rather, he was livid that Palin made the October 5 announcement on Mark Levin’s conservative talk-radio program, robbing Fox News of an exclusive and a possible ratings bonanza. Fox was relegated to getting a follow-up interview with Palin on Greta Van Susteren’s 10 p.m. show, after the news of Palin’s decision had been drowned out by Steve Jobs’s death. Ailes was so mad, he considered pulling her off the air entirely until her $1 million annual contract expires in 2013.
After the announcement, he called Fox’s executive vice-president Bill Shine into a meeting. Shine is the network’s principal point of contact with Palin.Ailes told him she had made a big mistake. “I paid her for two years to make this announcement on my network,” Ailes pointedly told Shine. Sources described the episode on condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the relationships.
In addition to all of this, there’s the question of whether having Palin on the air actually does anything for Fox News Channel. They were getting excellent ratings before she was a semi-frequent guest, and they’ll likely continue getting excellent ratings if they let her go. Ailes may just end up deciding that it’s not worth a million buck a year to deal with the frustration that is the political world’s most prominent media diva.
Ed Morrissey comments:
Palin probably needs Fox more than Fox needs Palin, but that doesn’t mean that Ailes can just dump Palin and expect to suffer no damage, either, especially with bizarre decisions like this. If you’re paying a million bucks a year for the previous VP nominee to provide political analysis, why take her off the air during theconventions to make a point? Why not do it when such a move will send the message to Palin but not be as obvious to everyone else, and still allow Fox to get maximum value from Palin when it counts
Well, I suppose the answer is that when you’re dealing with strong-willed people, and Ailes is nothing if not strong-willed, you should expect things like this. At this point, I would not be surprised to see Fox quietly drop Palin when he contract is up.
H/T: Taegan Goddard