Fox News' contributor conundrum
March 3rd, 2011
03:04 PM ET
11 years ago

Fox News' contributor conundrum

(CNN) – In the wake of the contributor contract suspensions of two possible candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Fox News has left unaddressed what it will do with three other contributors who remain on its payroll but also appear to be mulling bids for the presidency.

Fox News suspended the contributor contracts of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum Wednesday. But continuing in roles at the network are former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, host of a weekend show on Fox News, as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a regular Fox News contributor.

Huckabee sought the GOP nomination in 2008 while Palin was the Republican vice presidential candidate that year.

Also, John Bolton, former ambassador to the U.N., announced last fall that he may throw his hat in the presidential race as well. He is also a regular Fox contributor.

Bret Baier, the anchor of Fox News' "Special Report," announced the contract suspensions of Gingrich and Santorum on-air Wednesday, saying "Fox News has suspended its contributor arrangements with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, both of whom who have considered possible runs for the president."

Baier also hinted that it may not be the only announcement that the network has planned, without actually committing to whether more actions would be necessary. "This is Fox policy, this is the announcement made today. It does not preclude other announcements that may be made in the future. But that's what we have today, this 60-day suspension and then by May 1st a determination on whether they're going to run and then those contracts would be terminated."

In an exclusive interview given to the "Los Angeles Times" Wednesday, Fox News executive vice president of legal and business affairs said the channel will make a decision on contracts with Palin and Huckabee "as soon as each of them shows some serious intention to form an exploratory committee."

She indicated that the news organization would "take the same action" if any other contributors make serious moves toward a presidential run, noting that "Huckabee is on a book tour, so I think his present intention is to sell books," and that Palin "hasn't yet shown a serious intention to form an exploratory committee." No mention was made of Bolton.

The "Los Angeles Times" reported salaries for the contributors in question, indicating how closely each is tied to the network. Huckabee earns around $500,000 a year for a contract that extends through 2012. If Palin were to run for the presidency, she would be released from a $1 million annual contract. Palin inked a three-year deal set to extend through the end of 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times.

While Santorum made under $100,000 each year in a three-year deal set to expire in 2013, Gingrich was released from a nearly $1 million contract, according to the newspaper. He has been a contributor since 1999.

And though Huckabee told conservative radio host Bryan Fischer Wednesday that finances were not a factor in making his decision because "I understand what it is to take all your life resources and start all over again, so it's not going to be the factor that gets me in or out," he did admit that the risk of losing his Fox contract weighs on his timetable for making a decision.

"I also know that in my own contract if I take any steps officially to become a candidate, if I raise money or tell someone yeah, I am definitely running, then yeah, I'm off the air immediately," he told Fischer.

"I'm very aware of that, it's one of the reasons I'm not in a big hurry to go out and make an announcement. I'm not in a hurry to take the steps until I know for sure that I'm supposed to be a candidate, that I'm gonna be a candidate, that I want to be a candidate."

But he's made more obvious overtures toward a run, telling CNN Chief National Correspondent John King in a recent interview that part of the process of writing his new book was an intention to gauge whether others will support his ideas and, consequently, a presidential bid.

"So, what I'm saying in this, this is the message - if people read this book and say, those are some ideas I can relate to, these are ideas I think would be good for the country, then that's going to help me believe that there is real support for what I stand for," he said.

Sarah Palin recently stated that she believes she could beat President Obama in a 2012 presidential contest, but has also not yet committed to a run. Instead, she continues to dodge the will-she-or-won't-she question, saying "I am still thinking of leading this country…I haven't made up my mind," after hiring a veteran GOP strategist to helm her political action committee, SarahPAC, in February. The new chief-of-staff was a longtime adviser to presidential candidate Bob Dole. However, Palin said "We hired a chief of staff because Todd is getting tired of doing it for me."

And when asked who should top the ideal Republican ticket, she said: "No one is more qualified to multi-tasking and doing all the things you need to do as a president than a woman" and listed her qualifications, counting the roles of mayor and vice presidential candidate as part of her experience while speaking to a group of business officials in Long Island, New York. Aside from the hire, she has made no formal steps to run.

"What I would look for in terms of character is someone who's been on the front lines, who understands how to administer, how to lead a team, how to run a business," she said.

Last fall Bolton told conservative radio host Aaron Klein that he is "considering" a bid for the presidency. "If I did run, and I haven't made a decision, I have never run for office one way or the other, so it would be a pretty big decision to do it," he said.

With his foreign policy experience, Bolton addressed an area where he finds the current administration lacking. He cited concerns about national security and opined that the president "doesn't enjoy being commander-in-chief," and that Obama views national security as an "irritation, a distraction from what his real priorities are."

Fox has committed to take action in the event of an "exploratory committee" regarding Palin. The network did not respond to a call requesting further clarification of their policies.

Filed under: 2012 • Fox News • John Bolton • Mike Huckabee • Sarah Palin
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    Make money spewing lies, spreading hate, inciting fear, and causing division or public service ... That IS a hard one for all these Republican yahoos ... Palin, for one, would probably go through withdrawal if she couldn't get her fix of softball questions from sympathetic "news reporters" ...

    March 3, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. Jamie from Riverside

    So FOX news appears to be the Republican loser (as in they all lost their respective races) network.

    March 3, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Video Guy

    Fire them all.

    March 3, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Peggy

    OMG, Next we'll hear Joe the Plumber is planning to run for president as a Republican.

    March 3, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    "Sarah Palin recently stated that she believes she could beat President Obama in a 2012 presidential contest" "And when asked who should top the ideal Republican ticket, she said: "No one is more qualified to multi-tasking and doing all the things you need to do as a President than a woman" and listed her qualifications, counting the roles of mayor and vice presidential candidate as part of her experience".............Earth to Sarah. Earth to Sarah. You are WRONG. Not sure about the "no one is more qualified...woman" part but the rest is just a joke. You are really delusional if you think you would come within 200 electoral votes of Obama going face to face. However, please do run and I hope you get the nomination, then watch you quit after a week because you can't stand the heat of an actual election cycle

    March 3, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. B

    It is what happens when you try to own a political party..

    March 3, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    The imbecilic moron from AK couldn't beat a turtle in either a foot or brain race! I don't know what faux news is going to do when all these losers leave to run for the presidency but they shouldn't worry too much as they will all be back in mid November 2012! 🙂

    March 3, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. fayse

    Do Huckabee and Palin realize that they are making more that the office of the President makes? They both have it made right now all they have to do is complain about the President and they don't have to face the firestorm each and everday of the hatred thrown the Presidents way. Do they really think that they would not be on the receiving end of the wrath of the people should, God forbid) they were actually in the White House? I do think that is a conflict of interest with the American people to have so many of the GOP's under contract with Fox news a.ka. Rupert Murdock

    March 3, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. DC Johnny

    CNN throws it's typical rhetoric-driven anti-capitalist sentiment into the world and here come the Liberals to eat it all up and cry foul. God forbid these people interrupt their public service to continue working long hours to earn good money for themselves and their families. This must make them terrible, terrible people. Much worse than we are, right?

    March 3, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. Indy

    It is very simple, the ones that are not runnuning and never were running continue to have a contract with Fox. The ones that use the media to speculate that they 'might" run so they can sell books and speeches are the same people that NEVER were going to run. You don't have to be "Smart Like Fox" to figure this third grade quiz out. Sarah and Mike were never REALLY going to run they just used the media to boost their income.

    March 3, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |

    Mr HUCKABEE: you are missing some things. The concept that insurance companies had years ago that people have to contribute something to understand how their health care dollars are spent (because the packages are negotiated by their employers) has been proven to be wrong. Somebody did the research and it's not true. Don't campaign on that (be careful of things that insurance companies come up with. something like 40million...probably much worse now...couldn't afford health care insurance in the first place. they are notorious for coming up with bad ideas in health care while totally missing the concept of improving their own paying claims instead of avoiding them. they have a long history of being completely off base. they also came up with the idea that we should be able to rate doctors like the label on the back of a soup can. there are things that are intelligent (UHC) on rating healthcare or making it easier to find the right doctor in the right hospital with the right equipment at the right time...and it's actually more complicated than that...but anyway...there are smart things, but they don't usually come from insurance companies. and they aren't that good at taking care of their patients...they are better at protecting their wallet. some states wanted to put a cap on the profits they could make (while patients were declined). that's a can of worms that needs real analysis...not fluffy crap they come up with.

    March 3, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. Liberal

    ALL these people are RACIST, RACIST and RACIST!

    March 3, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. geecee

    So how many "contributors" work for Fox Noise? Geez, their entire staff? Well, we all know they work for the Republicants, that's for certain. None of these so-called Presidential contenders have a chance to beat Obama. They are each laughable in their own way, whether because they are just plain too stupid to even hold up in a debate, or they have been married 3 times, or they are so full of hatred for the President that they are frothing at the mouth. None of them have a chance. Maybe they ought to hold on to their gigs at Fox and just blab lies and distortions all day long. I mean, how hard can that be??

    March 3, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. vlj in mn

    Are there ANY democratic commentators on "Fair and Balanced" FOX News? This is a joke!

    March 3, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. Airdoc

    Conumdrum? It looks like they did the right thing and they've already said they will do the same if other people make a serious commitment. So why make this sound like they did something wrong?

    March 3, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |

    Mr HUCKABEE: You are missing some things. I suspect you have never met a person that is transgender (intersex). If you were that fortunate, there are some things that become blatantly obvious. They won't tell you at first because they are scared that they would be killed by hate crimes. So, when you finally get enough trust...they will tell you. It's work. Because there are a lot of complications with gender issues. People tend to think in terms of black or white, but there's gray. It makes sense that there is genetic variation, right? eye color and such? there's genetic variation in gender also. Read Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the myth of two sexes by Gerald N. Callahan. When you meet them, they are lovable. We wouldn't throw them away. But, how do you love them? Honestly, you have to get to a point where you can get above genitals. It's not about genitals so much. Like anything...if you are going to complain about people, complain about something they can do something about. If they are born with anomalies, how can you blame them? and how can you force them to be what you consider normal, but doesn't fit what society says is normal??? we can't. we are just wrong. so to use the logic...100,000 people can't be wrong...which is what you are doing when you say things like, It's what the people want...most people surveyed think marriage is between a man and a woman...there is an error in that logic. 100,000 people can, and have been wrong. (Are you funded by insurance companies? some of this stuff sounds like something that would come from them.)

    March 3, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. Secular Christian

    How many Democratic/Liberal candidates is FOX news fielding in the 2012 election?

    There are 5 potential GOP/Conservative candidates from the FOX news stable listed above.

    Seriously, when can we just start calling it "FOX Conservative Propaganda"? I guess it doesn't ring as well as "FOX News".

    March 3, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |

    Mr HUCKABEE: you need an update on a lot of things. I listened to the interview on Charlie Rose. A lot of the things you are trying to stand on are outdated. You might want to watch War Made Easy. HOW PRESIDENTS & PUNDITS KEEP SPINNING US TO DEATH. We aren't very interested in war or more lies either. I don't think some of these are lies, just outdated. And a lot of those things (especially things that insurance companies come up with) should have been obvious to anyone with common sense from the actual patient perspective...and that's a perspective that is often left out in health be careful when you listen to them. We need someone on our side. Wouldn't be the worst idea to try to overturn Citizens United. People want to know where the money is coming from for political contributions. We are tired of being lied to, and quite frankly we are spent. especially on the war level. and banksters.

    March 3, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    FoxNews. "unfair and biased" just need to come out and admit that they are the PRAVADA for the Republican Party and be through with it. Find me a positive story about President Obama or almost any other Democrat on a FoxNews cast and I bet it's easier to find a needle in a haystack. The thing is, that's FINE if they want to be that way, they serve a purpose because there are people in this country that NEVER want to hear anything positive about President Obama even if it happens to be true. FoxNews fits that niche.

    March 3, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. CNN The Masters of Spin

    UUUUMMMMMM..........could CNN....The Masters of Spin be just a tad bit JEALOUS???

    March 3, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Voice of Reason

    With every able-bodies republican teanut being called up to the majors for 2012 – will there be anyone left at Fox News? Where are they going to get their apologist propoganda-laced misinformation now? Who's going to prostitute themselves to the tea party in their talk show programming with everyone on the campaign trail? They're going to have to go to the B-team... Maybe Imus is available?

    The fourth estate is dead. It's all entertainment and propoganda now.

    March 3, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |

    I don't see any serious candidates from the republican side. Save your money. (Maybe they are trying to make more money?) not sure, but I don't see anyone being anywhere near where we need them to be on bringing this country forward. Especially from the war monger side. I just don't see it. People are sick of being lied to. We trusted people that didn't deserve a speck of our trust.

    March 3, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. majikbunny

    Sarah Palin is going to India soon!! She wants to see first hand where all of the American jobs went to. She wants to see first hand what America will look like when the Republicans get through with it!!

    March 3, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  24. vic nashville tn

    Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and John Bolton they are not running because they know they can’t win
    Fox rating depend on their crazy comments so FOX like to keep them

    March 3, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Truth

    Why are you so worried about Palin????

    "Fox has committed to take action in the event of an "exploratory committee" regarding Palin."

    Gov. Palin has no intention of ever forming an exploratory committee. If she runs the woman will just announce and start hitting the states.

    Don't you people ever listen to a word the woman says.
    I forgot, you people just make things up and call it news.

    March 3, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |