Palin and Huckabee Stay at Fox News While Santorum and Gingrich Ditched For Potential Presidential Runs

 Was Rick Santorum caught off guard when Fox News dropped him and Newt Gingrich from their paid appearances because of likely presidential runs, but not Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin?

Santourm told Media Matters last month at CPAC that he believed he could remain a Fox paid contributor and still appear in a planned Fox News South Carolina GOP primary debate in May -- so long as he didn't officially declare his candidacy.

"I don't think you have to be a candidate to be a part of the debate, at least that's my understanding," Santorum said during the CPAC interview on Feb. 10. He later said he did not believe it would be a conflict to work for Fox and participate in the debate.

Apparently Fox did not agree, announcing this week that Santorum and Gingrich would be suspended from their paid commentator contracts for at least 60 days. If they do not notify Fox News by May 1 that they are not running for president, they will be permanently terminated.

No such announcement was made for Palin and Huckabee.

Late Thursday, a Santorum spokeswoman made it clear the campaign would like Fox to treat other would-be presidential candidates the same way.

In a statement to Media Matters, Santorum Communications Director Virginia Davis wrote:

We respect Fox's decision, and we believe they will be consistent in their policy.

Fox News, meanwhile, has yet to respond to Media Matters' requests for comment on why they chose to suspend Santorum and Gingrich, but not Palin and Huckabee.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Dianne Brandi, Fox News executive vice president of legal and business affairs, revealed the suspensions were done because "Gingrich aides told Fox News executives that the former House speaker is stepping up his exploration of a presidential bid" and "Santorum ... has indicated that he plans to participate in Republican primary debates." Brandi told the paper, "so that leads us to believe he is seriously considering running."

The Times also reported:

"We can't have Speaker Gingrich on our payroll while he is in the midst of an exploratory committee to see if he's going to run for office," Brandi said. "It's a clear conflict."

Fox News still has two other potential White House contenders on the payroll: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"As soon as each of them shows some serious intention to form an exploratory committee, we would take the same action," Brandi said. "Huckabee is on a book tour, so I think his present intention is to sell books."

As for Palin, "She hasn't yet shown a serious intention to form an exploratory committee."


Media Matters for America / By Joe Strupp

Posted at March 4, 2011, 10:14am

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