After conceding the vice presidential ticket, resigning as governor of Alaska and reflecting on her life in Going Rogue, Sarah Palin is back. Just when we thought the firestorm of Palin-centric jokes had been doused with the passing of time, Palin has reclaimed the media’s attention, this time under some very interesting circumstances.
Earlier this week, Fox News officially announced Palin as a regular contributor under a multi-year contract. In a public statement, Palin remarked, “It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.” But according to a Pew Research poll, Fox News appears to be one of the most ideological news channels, with about 50 percent of the viewership subscribing to the “mostly conservative” camp.
The move surprised many who don’t believe Palin fits the mold of a typical news analyst — she allegedly asked McCain aides what the difference was between North and South Korea. In fact, critics on both sides of the political and ideological spectrum have had their fair share of comments about her new job — with some confident in her abilities to provide refreshing analysis and others discrediting both Fox News and Palin as a match made in stooge heaven.
Yet, in this spotlight, something is indeed different. In adopting this new role, Palin has switched sides to help create the media frenzy that mercilessly devoured her. Now, while she may still be fodder for late-night comedy, she also has a voice of her own, a loaded weapon that is in the position to change the course of how the media presents politics, the economy and Sarah Palin herself.
Though her agenda for 2012 remains opaque, it’s apparent that she is not retreating from the public arena. Rather, recall the circus-esque fashion in which she rose to notoriety, or fame, depending on how you vote.
Magnifying her populist voice as the mouthpiece of a legitimate news source seems to be the logical step for her to maintain the public’s attention and try to gain more respect as a politician. This former Alaskan governor has her ducks, and wolves, in a row.
That is, her influence is something to be reckoned with. Palin’s appearance on Oprah last November yielded the highest viewer ratings since the Osmonds’ appearance in 2007. After the election, Rasmussen Reports indicated that 69 percent of Republican voters believed Palin helped the McCain ticket. Both events occurred while she was still the laughing stock for a big part of American media.
Now that she’s a member of the media, what does this mean?
She can now hurl her critiques at President Obama from a higher platform, and Fox News and CNN can prolong their bipartisan battle with Palin at the reins.
During her debut interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, she said that liberals are not threatened by her, but rather by the “common sense conservative solutions” she represents.
To a certain extent, she is correct. Washington and the public aren’t used to having a politician who is so openly, shall we say, down-to-earth and who walks such a fine line between respected public figure and joke.
All things considered, it’s still surprising and a bit disconcerting that Fox News hired her.
What insight can she provide that other conservative politicians can’t? To be frank, not much.
If anything, Fox merely perpetuates the controversy of its right-leaning bias, while Palin gets a more opportune platform to vehemently broadcast her ideals in Main street prose.
Regardless of the rationale behind the new hire, one thing is certain. Palin’s influence is apparent and growing. Just as she had gone rogue from the McCain campaign, she has made an unexpected arrival to the news channel.
While it’s unclear as to exactly how many supporter or detractors she will gain from this experience, what is certain is that Palin’s gig at Fox News will ultimately increase her thrust as a public figure.
Nadine Tan is a sophomore majoring in business administration. Her column “World Rapport” runs Fridays.