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Why Fox News dropped Sarah Palin

After John McCain picked Sarah Palin out of relative obscurity to be his vice presidential running mate, she became a political force of nature. Since then, however, her star has lost its luster within the GOP, and she’s parted ways with Fox News.

By Staff writer / January 26, 2013

Sarah Palin delivers the keynote address to activists from America's political right at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington last February. Palin is out as a Fox News Channel contributor, the network reported Friday.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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When the history of US politics in the early 21st century is written, two figures will stand out: Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.

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The election of Mr. Obama to the highest elective office – the first African-American to win the presidency – did not necessarily signal a new era of post-racial politics. But coming just a generation after federal troops in the South (and a federal judge in Boston) were necessary to desegregate public schools, it was a huge milestone.

Ms. Palin was not the first woman to win a major political party’s vice presidential nomination; that was US Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, Walter Mondale’s running mate way back in 1984.

But the presence of the former Alaska governor on the GOP ticket headed by Sen. John McCain in 2008 invigorated the party – at the time, at least. And although they lost to Obama and Joe Biden, it wasn’t the blowout that Mondale and Ferraro suffered against Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

Ferraro went on to relative political obscurity, twice losing Democratic Party primaries for the US Senate. Palin, on the other hand, was just getting started when the returns for the 2008 presidential race were being counted.

How well do you know Sarah Palin? A quiz.

Over the next few years, she became a political force of nature – stirring a tea party base that thronged to her appearances, scaring GOP incumbents deemed too willing to find common ground with Democrats, and building a very lucrative business that included (for one season, at least) her own “reality” TV show while launching one of her five children – daughter Bristol – on her own entertainment career.

Meanwhile, as with some other conservative ex-elected officials like Mike Huckabee, Palin was given a sinecure of sorts as a commentator for Fox News, which built a studio in her home in Wasilla, Alaska, from which she railed against the “lamestream media” and anything Obama proposed or did as president.

No matter that Palin became the butt of liberal jokes, driving left-leaning bloviators nuts, and giving a huge boost to the acting career of Saturday Night Live’s Tina Fey. Her “Grizzly Mama” persona – a sharp-edged folksiness with the occasional rhetorical stumble – attracted at least as many people as it turned off. “Run, Sarah, Run!” echoed among adoring throngs urging her to run for the White House.

Although not every candidate she endorsed in 2010 won, her record was respectable.

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