On Fox News, at least three on-air commentators — Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich — are serious candidates to seek the presidential nomination of the Republican party in 2012.
However, it’s not totally a Fox issue.
A former Fox analyst, Angela McGlowan, entered a House race in Mississippi last week. Over at MSNBC, Harold E. Ford Jr. was on the payroll until a few weeks ago, when he told his boss that he was seriously contemplating a run for the Senate from New York. TV names are also constantly being run through the candidate rumor mill. There is a “Draft Larry Kudlow” movement. There is also talk of a political bid by Lou Dobbs, who left CNN last fall.
“It does seem amazing how many are being either discussed as candidates, rumored as candidates, or are actually doing it,” said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC.
Television and politics have always been intertwined, but never to this degree, TV executives and journalism professionals say. It would seem that the so-called revolving door for political operatives has been extended to the politicians themselves, at a time when cable news is more politically charged than ever.
To viewers, it seems to be an endless televised political campaign, with former, and possibly future, politicians biding their time giving sound-bite versions of stump speeches. (Mr. Huckabee’s recap of President Obama’s State of the Union: “rudderless confusion.” Ms. Palin’s perception of Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism strategy: “lackadaisical.”)
The benefit for the part-time, but highly paid, pundits is clear: it increases their visibility. “It makes sense for candidates to seek out positions in niche cable, because it is a direct pipeline to voters,” said Jonathan Wald, a former senior vice president at CNBC and an adjunct professor at Columbia’s journalism school. “It’s an automatic affinity group.”
The benefit to the viewers is less clear. Some experts say the arrangements can cloud the objectivity of the news organizations.
The what?!?! Fox viewers could care less about objectivity; they want to see their worldview reflected back to them.
I’m sure a substantial portion of MSNBC viewers also want the same type of thing as Fox viewers.
For that reason, I don’t think playing the O card really makes a damned bit of difference.
The name of the game is ratings.
But those Americans of the customer-is-always-right crowd might yet come to rue the day that serious political reportage got completely subsumed by mindless partisan blather.