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

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. legion says:

    The most surprising thing about this is that anyone is surprised by Palin’s behavior. She’s _always_ been thin-skinned, dim-witted, and utterly incapable of playing for any team but her own. We’ve know this for _years_. We told you this when she was first picked by McCain, and everyone was still surprised at how much of a boat-anchor she was during the campaign – for this sort of behavior to still be unexpected _now_ is just incredible.

  2. PJ says:

    She’s no longer useful, she’s a liability. The GOP didn’t want her anywhere near the convention, and whoever wins the election, Fox News doesn’t want her.

    She may get some minor form of wingnut welfare, but her prime time days are over. Same goes for her kids.
    What Palin should do is travel back to Alaska with whatever money she has saved, live on that and write monthly ramblings for some wingnut site.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Damn. Who is going to compete with Colbert now?

  4. michael reynolds says:

    She’s an unbalanced, narcissistic bimbo. She always was. Liberals spotted teh crazy from Day #1 but right-wingers just loved her winks and her wiggles.

    Want to know why Ailes took her off the air and will soon enough fire her? Because she was all about MILF appeal and she’s gotten older, and the crazy now outweighs the hot. Ailes doesn’t hire women for their analysis, he hires them for their hair and their legs.

  5. CSK says:

    Was it Murray Kempton who defined a celebrity as someone who was famous for being well-known? Anyway, it’s a perfect description of the Palin family as a whole. Never have so many people parlayed an utter lack of talent and ability into fame and fortune.

    It takes dimwitted egocentricity to new heights to trash your employer on a Facebook page. Palin should remember the old axiom that nobody is indispensable.

  6. al-Ameda says:


    She’s no longer useful, she’s a liability. The GOP didn’t want her anywhere near the convention, and whoever wins the election, Fox News doesn’t want her.

    She’s getting to be like Joe Pesci’s character “Tommy” in the movie Goodfellas. Eventually, the Mob had to off Tommy – he became a liability, he was temperamental and he did too many stupid things.

  7. mantis says:

    Who? Oh, yeah, her. Didn’t she quit her job to star in a reality show?

  8. Liberty60 says:

    This is the one prediction I have ever made that is becoming true- Palin is slowly becoming the Phylis Schlafly of our generation.

    She will slowly fade into the woodwork, churning out books to the faithful, signing them at county fairs and gatherings of old white people.

    Occasionally she will make a spectacular crazy statement, and will thrive in the few hours of media glare, then sink back into obscurity.

  9. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I’m just really depressed that someone this airheaded can be earning $1M/year for a part-time job. Do you realize that I would kill people for that sort of dinero? No, literally, seriously, I’d go full Keller. Sigh.

    In any event, Fox needs Palin a lot less than Palin needs Fox. Ailes has forgotten more about negotiating contracts than Palin ever will learn. Ergo Palin either will come to heel at a cheaper price or she’ll probably wind up relegated to reality TV and to the occasional talk radio guest hosting gig. I guess it’s theoretically possible that CNN might take a flyer on her — after all their ratings hardly could get much worse — but I doubt it.

  10. CSK says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    How could she do a talk show, Nick? She can’t talk.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Palin has a history of abandoning/turning on the people who help her to climb another rung up the ladder. That will work as long as you are climbing, but she may not realize that she reached her zenith years ago. Without Fox, C list celebrity status awaits…

  12. Murray says:

    Ah Sarah. The twinkle in your eyes, the sparkle of your smile, the sound of the wind blowing through your ears.

  13. JohnMcC says:

    Perhaps a good time to pause and reflect on the fact that this person could have become President of the United States if for some reason Mr Obama had lost to Mr McCain who then died. Neither event is completely unthinkable.

  14. Buzz Buzz says:

    She’s _always_ been thin-skinned, dim-witted

    She’s an unbalanced, narcissistic bimbo.

    dimwitted egocentricity

    Didn’t she quit her job to star in a reality show?

    she will make a spectacular crazy statement

    someone this airheaded

    She can’t talk.

    Palin has a history of abandoning/turning on the people who help her

    sound of the wind blowing through your ears

    lol… a bunch of angry old white guys hanging around in their echo chamber, cattily trying to insult a lady who’s infinitely happier and more successful than any of them will ever be.


  15. CSK says:

    @Buzz Buzz:

    Three points:

    1. “Old white guys” are Palin’s biggest demographic

    2. How can you be sure everyone commenting on this thread is an “old white guy”?

    3. How can you be sure everyone here isn’t happier and more successful than Sarah Palin?