Yes, Ms. Palin’s contract with Fox News has ended, and no, it is not being renewed. A Fox spokeswoman confirmed Friday that Fox had parted ways with the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee, effectively reducing her exposure to the channel’s millions of loyal viewers.
It was unclear whether the parting was Ms. Palin’s choice. Bill Shine, an executive vice president at Fox, said in a statement, “We have thoroughly enjoyed our association with Governor Palin. We wish her the best in her future endeavors.”
As of last week, Ms. Palin remained in negotiations with Fox News about a new contract. Her original contract with the network started in January 2010 and ended this month.
This makes a lot of sense. As I’ve written before, Fox News’ schtick has always been to hire intensely polarizing figures, from Dr. Keith Ablow, who spends most of his time making outrageous statements about gay and transgender people, to former Los Angeles detective Mark Fuhrman who, tragically and hilariously, comments on criminal justice issues, despite having plead no contest to charges he perjured himself in the O.J. Simpson case. Palin would seem to be in that tradition: since she stepped on the national stage at the Republican National Convention in 2008, Palin’s primary talent has been for incendiary rhetoric.
But Palin’s not rooted in any particular extreme viewpoint. Her policy perspectives have always been too squishy for her to represent much in the way of an particular constituency or any cause other than herself and her own fans. She was never particularly a ratings hit on Fox—a special planned around her turned out not to be the sort of draw the network hoped for. And unlike Ablow and his ilk, Palin was never even particularly successful at tweaking liberals in her appearance on the network, ginning up the kind of publicity that could have made her a worthwhile investment even if she wasn’t particularly popular with the network’s core audience.
The Palin family as a whole seems to hope for careers in show business, but this is only the latest in a string of failures for them. The TLC show Sarah Palin’s Alaskasaw declining ratings and wasn’t renewed for a second season. Bristol Palin’s Lifetime show was yanked from the network for lower viewership, but not before landing $354,348 in tax subsidies from the state of Alaska. Todd Palin was reduced to appearing as one of many celebrities on NBC’s military reality show Stars Earned Stripes.
Maybe now that Fox News has cut ties with Palin, the rest of the television industry will follow suit. Sarah Palin long ago proved she had no real aptitude for governance when she quit her job as governor as Alaska. Her time on Fox proved she didn’t have much spark as a source of news or opinion. And the rest of her family’s efforts suggest that as entertainment, the Palins have nothing to offer us but diminishing returns.