Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has been sounding increasingly like she’s going to run for president lately, embarking on a high-profile bus tour this weekend and telling reporters she could beat President Obama. In Washington, D.C. yesterday, she “went out of her way to stress that there was plenty of time for someone — like her, perhaps? — to get into the race in the coming months.” “There will be more strong candidates jumping in,” she said. “The field isn’t set yet. Not by a long shot.”
Like many of the 2012 Republican candidates, Palin has been working for Fox News as a paid contributor. But unlike other candidates, she is still getting paid by the network, even after it ended its contracts with other potential candidates to maintain compliance with campaign finance laws. But when it announced that it was severing its deals with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Fox said it would maintain its ties with Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has since announced he is not running, but Palin has only gotten closer to a bid. Yet Fox said last week that it is not changing its agreement with Palin. This has prompted many, including CNN’s John King, to wonder whether Fox is holding Palin to a different standard. Indeed, there is some evidence to suggest Palin and Fox have a mutually beneficial relationship that the skirts the ethical guidelines it has imposed on other 2012 candidates.
On her ongoing “One Nation” bus tour, Palin has gone to great lengths to avoid the media. She gives no notice to reporters about where she is going, and was only found at the National Archives on Saturday after reporters happened to see tourists Tweeting about spotting her there. When she finally made herself available to the press last night, it lasted only three minutes and Palin’s daughter Piper “repeatedly tugged at her mother’s arm during the questions” asking her to leave. In Gettysburg this morning, Palin pulled a bait and switch by leaving her bus in a hotel parking lot to give the impression she was still inside while she quietly slipped out in a different vehicle to dupe reporters.
That is, however, “unless you’re Fox News host Greta Van Susteren or her husband, John Coale,” Politico reports.
While Palin has kept other reporters at arms length since her rise to prominence during the 2008 campaign, she has repeatedly let Van Susteren inside. Coale is one of “the figures charged with guiding Palin’s political image in Washington,” and helped start her leadership PAC. While Coale insists he is just a “friend,” The Washington Post reported, “Others familiar with Palin’s political team insist that Coale has far more power than he is letting on — essentially helping to run Sarah PAC.”
Meanwhile, Van Susteren was in Palin’s motorcade yesterday conducting an exclusive interview while other reporters desperately tried to follow her via Twitter sightings. And Van Susteren has a long history of airing fluffy pieces about Palin without disclosing her husband’s ties to the Tea Party darling. In August 2010, she aired what “basically boil[ed] down to a three-day infomercial of Palin” talking about Alaskan oil. Van Susteren also scored Palin’s first national television interview after the 2008 election; hosted a one-hour “documentary” on “Governor Sarah Palin — An American Woman;” and conducted an exclusive interview with Todd Palin, in which she grilled him “on everything from the story behind the name ‘First Dude’ to how he feels about the name ‘First Dude.’”
King said last night that he assumes Palin has secretly told Fox she is not running because of the glaring “double standard.” But Fox has repeatedly shown there is no reason to give it the benefit of the doubt when it comes to journalistic ethics.
CNN asked Palin’s husband Todd about the lack of media access and whether they might open up the bus to reporters, like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) did during the 2008 campaign. “It’s a different scenario,” Todd replied. “She’s employed by Fox.”