Fox News offered Sarah Palin a new contract before she decided to part ways with the network where she has held forth as a commentator for the last three years.
However, it would be hard to describe it as a generous contract.
Palin was a hot property when Roger Ailes landed her in 2009, fresh off her colorful run for vice president, and paid her an annual salary of $1 million. Fox even built Palin a studio at her Wasilla home.
But relations cooled between the two sides, and Palin was appearing on Fox less often—complaining on Facebook one night during the Republican convention that the network had canceled her appearances.
The new contract offered by Fox, say people familiar with the situation, would have provided only a fraction of the million-dollar-a-year salary. It was then, they say, that Palin turned it down and both sides agreed to call it quits.
A friendly announcement was planned for Friday, but a source close to Palin leaked the news in the afternoon to Real Clear Politics, saying the former Alaska governor “decided not to renew the arrangement” and “remains focused on broadening her message of common-sense conservatism.”
The official statement soon surfaced, with Fox Executive Vice President Bill Shine saying “we have thoroughly enjoyed our association with Governor Palin. We wish her the best in her future endeavors.”
What happened, quite simply, is that Palin’s star had faded. She was no longer the rock star of 2008, her future presidential ambitions the subject of constant speculation. The political climate shifted as well, with Republicans, having been shellacked in their second straight presidential election, debating a future involving Rubio and Christie and Ryan but not Palin.
And the atmosphere at Fox shifted as well. It was no longer a network in the throes of a Tea Party revolt and providing a platform for Glenn Beck. Fox edged a bit closer to the center, and Palin began to seem more the Julianne Moore of Game Change than a political force.
Palin retains a passionate following among some conservatives who view her as a female trailblazer. But she will now have to build her brand without the Fox platform.