Long before Charles Gibson asked her about the Bush Doctrine, before Katie Couric asked her about what publications she liked to read and before her subsequent recriminations about gotcha journalism, Sarah Palin studied communications in college and spent the early days of her career as a local TV sports reporter in Alaska.
“The Iditarod is the biggie, but it’s not the only mushing going on …”
In short, Ms. Palin was for journalism before she was against it. Is it possible she’ll now return to the craft?
In the days since the surprise announcement that she will be stepping down as the governor of Alaska, various pundits have speculated that Ms. Palin, in addition to writing her memoir and racking up speaking fees, might also take on a TV news gig. “Is there something more to Palin’s stunning decision?” wrote Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post. “A reality show or Fox punditry perch in the offing?” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough wondered if Fox would sign her to a multi-million dollar deal.
So how likely is the advent of Palin TV? In recent days, The Observer posed the question to TV news executives and agents at a range of networks and agencies. The consensus opinion? Don’t hold your breath. In general, our sources were unanimously skeptical that Ms. Palin would rush into a time-consuming TV job anytime soon—or that TV news executives would be falling over themselves to sign up Ms. Palin for her own show, or much of anything else.
Michael Glantz, a veteran TV agent in New York, speculated that the market for Ms. Palin’s TV services might be limited to conservative media circles. “I’ve talked to a bunch of TV executives in the past few days,” said Mr. Glantz. “Not one of them said, ‘Hey, can you get me in touch with Sarah Palin?’ Not one.”
Ms. Palin might well return the disinterest. Giving well-paid stump speeches to partisan audiences plays to her strengths. Mixing it up on a range of political topics, in front of a rolling camera, without a safety net? Not so much.
“If she wants to continue her political career, she’d have to be insane to have a regular assignment,” said another agent. “The beauty is that she’s such a rock star now, she’s much better off doing speeches, making money and giving exclusives to whoever she wants. With a smart PR person, she’ll get tremendous attention. To do even a weekend show would be nutty. There’s no need to rush into anything.”
Sources were unanimously skeptical that Ms. Palin would rush into a time-consuming TV job anytime soon.
A couple of sources posited that a regular gig on the radio might make more sense. “If she does a television show, she’s not going to be able to do it from Alaska,” said one network executive. “She could do a radio show from her kitchen in Wasilla.”
Or she could sign on as a part-time political analyst. “She might want to do that for Fox News,” said the aforementioned executive. “That would allow her to keep a television presence without having the burden of a daily show.”
Another TV news executive, however, was less than gung-ho about the prospect of hiring Ms. Palin for such a role. “I think it would be hard for her to do analysis for a network,” said the executive. “You need a good reservoir of knowledge. You need to be a student of history and of political science to be able to do that effectively. … It’s a very different skill set than reading box scores.”
If Ms. Palin does end up on TV, Fox News seems to be the most likely fit. Yet a Fox News spokesperson told Mediaite’s Steve Krakauer that they had not spoken with Ms. Palin about a job. Alan Berger, the CAA agent who landed former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee a weekend show on Fox News, did not respond to The Observer’s inquiries.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, offered another explanation for why Ms. Palin might avoid landing a regular TV show. “If you’re on a talk show, you are creating your own opposition research for your opponent,” said Mr. Sabato. “They just take a controversial sentence out of whatever you said and—boom—you’re in trouble.”