And just wait until Glenn Beck leaps into the race. Fox News faces a dilemma as the 2012 presidential campaign—which traditionally starts right after midterm elections—nears: The network has four potential candidates on its payroll in Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum. That’s every major contender save Mitt Romney who’s not currently holding office. The politicians’ paid contributor deals have caused a rift within Fox News and frustrated competitors, because the candidates are contractually forbidden from appearing on another news channel. C-SPAN tried to interview Palin, but was forced to ask Fox’s permission, which was denied. Other TV news networks have had the same experience. Fox says that once the Republicans declare they’re running for office, they’ll have to sever their ties to the channel. But they’re likely to delay that announcement, as Fox offers an unparalleled platform to spout an unfiltered message to conservatives. (Palin has already visited early primary states.) Some Fox employees are uneasy with the arrangement, and they haven’t gotten instructions from higher-ups on how to deal with it. Reporters are “left in the lurch,” not knowing when the candidates will have to leave.
Conflict of Interest Mary Ann Chastain / AP Photo