Many in the media are calling the firing of Sarah Palin the end of a conservative era, but what it truly represents is the ultimate failure of Fox News to influence elections and defeat President Obama.
The conservative media have been tripping all over themselves to eulogize Sarah Palin as a fallen media star. The Christian Science Monitor described Palin as, “Over the next few years, she became a political force of nature – stirring a tea party base that thronged to her appearances, scaring GOP incumbents deemed too willing to find common ground with Democrats, and building a very lucrative business that included (for one season, at least) her own “reality” TV show while launching one of her five children – daughter Bristol – on her own entertainment career.”
None of the Palin as a political force of nature narrative is actually true. Her approval ratings were on the decline before the 2008 election had even concluded, but the mainstream media kept pushing the Sarah Palin superstar myth. This unwarranted hype led Fox News to buy into the Sarah Palin myth, and make her one of the centerpieces of their defeat Obama campaign.
Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck were the two tent poles of the Fox News strategy of endless slurs, fearmongering, and conspiracy theories directed towards and focused on President Obama. In 2009 and 2010, Palin and Beck were the drivers of the Fox News anti-Obama strategy. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are no longer on television, and their declines can be directly attributed to misjudgment at Fox News.
If the 2012 election revealed anything, it was that Fox News has no ability to influence elections, or the broader the electorate. The cable news ratings leader relentlessly waged war against everything related to Obama. Fox spent years pushing and granting legitimacy to every crazed Obama conspiracy theory that came down the pike. They spent endless hours of daily programming railing against this president, but they underestimated the president’s popularity. Like the Republican Party itself, Fox News misjudged the electorate. They thought 2012 would be just like the 2010, but they were proven wrong when Obama won reelection in a landslide.
When Fox News pushed Sarah Palin out the door, they were publicly admitting defeat.
Sarah Palin’s Obama obsession is so complete that she spent the last three years serving as his cable news stalker. Palin is the human embodiment of Fox News failure. Fox has two spheres of influence. They are able to influence the mainstream media, and the Republican Party. Both the media and the GOP appear absolutely terrified to cross them, but that limited influence was unable to prevent the reelection of a personally popular president.
Fox News paid Sarah Palin millions of dollars because they thought that she could be the tip of their anti-Obama spear. They mistakenly assumed that Palin would broaden their anti-Obama message. They thought they were buying access to a potential shadow president, and possible 2012 candidate. Instead, they got themselves a political never was who could never get past losing the 2008 election.
The big story isn’t the overdue expiration of Sarah Palin’s 15 minutes of fame, but that the Fox News emperor is wearing no clothes. Fox News went all in on defeating Obama in 2012 and lost. The demise of Sarah Palin as a national figure represents limitations and systemic failure of right wing media.
President Obama didn’t just defeat Mitt Romney. He also triumphed over a right wing media machine that was hellbent on stopping him. Obama’s 2012 win vanquished Fox News, and made Sarah Palin the forgettable footnote in history that she always should have been.
Fox News waved the white flag when they fired Palin. Obama and the left have won both the media battle and the political war, as the Fox News 2012 gambit may be be remembered as their ultimate failure.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association