Tonight, Sarah Palin will debut as a professional pundit on The O'Reilly Factor— kicking off a new multi-year contract with Fox News that has media observers furiously speculating what it means for her chances as a White House candidate. Though Palin has never confirmed plans to run in 2012, she consistently tops Republican primary polls and just completed a book tour that many saw as a ramp-up for a campaign. Does her Fox News deal—to offer commentary, host a series of "Real American" specials, and occasionally fill in for anchors—suggest she's more interested in becoming "a white Oprah" or is she hoping her new public platform will help her reach the White House? (Watch an AP report about Sarah Palin, Fox News contributor.)
Fox could give Palin the training she needs to run: Palin's new Fox gig may be key to helping her become more media savvy, says Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post. "Doing TV, Palin will learn how to think on her feet … [and] how to debate other people in a forum with no real ground rules." And Fox News President Roger Ailes has a "proven ability to turn a diamond in the rough into ratings gold" — just look at Glenn Beck. If Ailes does the same with Palin, "expect to see her star rise."
"Sarah Palin gets in the game"
Palin is leaving herself wide open to ridicule in 2012: By joining Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity at Fox, Palin risks reducing herself from a serious candidate for the 2012 presidential race to a mere "Right-wingnut," says Zennie Abraham in the San Francisco Chronicle. And if she does still run in 2012, "every ill-considered comment or quip will be gathered, blasted on television and online, and used against her again and again, wrecking any chance she has of being considered electable."
"Sarah Palin to join Fox News, gains official wingnut status"
Palin can't expand her base on Fox, but that's not her strategy: "For Palin to succeed in the 2012 presidential race, says Ethan Lyon at Sparxoo, "the first step is to activate her Republican base to win the primaries." Once she nails the nomination, and Fox can help her solidify her base support, "then she can turn her attention to swing voters and independents for the general election." It looks like she's taking a calculated risk.
"Can Fox Help Build Palin’s Brand for 2012 Presidential Ticket?"
Palin is pulling a Reagan here: The ex-governor "is taking a page out of the Ronald Reagan playbook," says Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez, as quoted in CBS News. Reagan had a radio show from 1976 to 1980 and, like Reagan, "Palin will have tremendous support. A lot of primary Republican voters watch Fox News. And she's going to be able to hopefully put together some cogent ideas on domestic policy issues, foreign policy. It's a between platform and could lead her down the road to 2012."
"Palin Taking a Page From Reagan Playbook"
It's over for Sarah Palin: With this move, it's clear that Palin has shifted her ambitions, says Bonnie Erbe in U.S. News, and "spared us (for the moment) the worry that she might run for national office. She's much better suited to TV, where glamour is everything and intellect is of little consequence. Besides, going to Fox means she can proselytize all she wants (as did former anchor Brit Hume most recently) and need not let minor things such as the facts get in the way of ... a good sound bite."
"Palin Perfect for Fox News: Glamour With No Need for Smarts"