Four GOP Candidates on Fox Payroll as 2010 Elections Approach
by Danielle Delp
During major political campaigns, TV, radio and print news companies dedicate great amounts of time and resources into covering every step of the campaign processes, and they often beginning as early as the party primaries. After the elections are over, it is common for former candidates to begin working as commentators for the networks that covered their campaigns.
After the Democratic Party seized victory in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, many of the former Republican Party candidates moved on to communicate with the country through one of the most well-known conservative news media sources: Fox News. Recently, these former candidates have found themselves in a conflicted situation, as the 2012 election looms ever closer.
Well-known Fox News contributors Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have implied their intent to run for the Republican Party, but their contracts with Fox prevent them from appearing on almost any other news station. In response to public pressure, Fox has announced that their contracts will become null and void if they officially announce their desire to run for any kind of political position.
If the contracts are severed, both the candidates and the Republican Party will lose one of the sweetest journalism deals in their possession. Other news stations harbor anger towards Fox because as long as these potential candidates remain on the Fox News payroll, it is virtually impossible for any other network to cover the early stages of the Republican primary until the contracts with Fox are either cancelled or expire.
Fox retains exclusivity to Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich and Santorum, preventing them to even be interviewed by other networks. This does allow them to deliver their message unchallenged on a supportive news network, but it limits the air time that each candidate can get and how widely they can be seen. The official campaign announcements are thus expected to be unusually late this year, as each candidate tries to maximize the advantages of their position.
Huffington Post remarks that the dilemma is causing problems within the Fox News Network as well, since having active politicians on their payroll directly contradicts the network’s claims of being fair and balanced. This isn’t the first time that a Fox employee has announced a political campaign and consequently been suspended from the network, but this is the first time that such a large portion of a party’s potential candidates has been restricted. Financial Times has gone so far as to refer to the Republican primary as the “Fox primary.”
Fox has been expecting this dilemma since early 2010, but the only action they have taken has been the warning of termination. NBC and even the “New York Times” have imposed similar termination conditions when contributors or associates from their network announce any kind of political ambition. Though it remains to be seen exactly how four of the most famous Republican Party candidates will approach the situation, one thing is certain: Soon enough, they will have to choose between their major source of exclusive coverage and the fight for political power in 2012.