Fox News suspended the contracts of probable 2012 GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum on Wednesday, giving them until May 1 to either decline to run or forfeit their Fox paychecks. Critics have long argued that presidential aspirants unfairly benefit from their perch as paid Fox contributors. But there are at least three other potential 2012 candidates on the Fox payroll: Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and John Bolton. Which "begs an obvious question," says TIME's Amy Sullivan: "Does this mean Palin and Huckabee have notified Fox that they are not running for president?"

Palin and Huckabee will face the same choice... eventually: Fox made it clear that all candidates, once they officially declare, will have to give up their paid gigs with the network, says Daniel Foster in National Review. That said, it's a "mighty queer distinction" for Fox to claim that "Huckabee and Palin aren't yet 'serious' enough in their presidential aspirations to warrant such action," but Gingrich and Santorum are.
"Fox News 'suspends' Gingrich, Santorum"

Fox had to start somewhere: This was an easy call for Fox, says Joe Gandelman in The Moderate Voice. It has to at least start tackling the "ticklish issue" of the GOP hopefuls on its payroll if it wants to be "taken seriously as a news organization." But it sets up some tough choices for Palin, Huckabee, and the others: Keep the "big bucks" from Fox or chase the White House dream, knowing that if you "crash and fizzle too badly," Fox won't want you anymore.
"Gingrich and Santorum suspended as Fox News paid contributors"

Fox is skating on thin ice: Nobody thinks there's a "genuine difference" in the progress or seriousness of the would-be candidacies of Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich, and Santorum, says Patrick Ishmael in Hot Air. Which leaves some "deeply troubling" motives on Fox's part. It either knows Palin and Huckabee aren't running, which means it's unethically "withholding news," or it has decided that more "minor candidates" can be thrown under the bus, while "major league" frontrunners are too valuable to ditch.
"Fox News's definition of a 'candidate for President' fails the laugh test"