For Fox News, Having Candidates on the Payroll is a Double-Edged Sword

By Alex Weprin Comment

In a lengthy, well-reported piece for Politico today, Jonathan Martin and Keach Hagey write about four possible Republican candidates for President… who also happen to be on the Fox News payroll as contributors.

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee are all rumored to be in the running for the nomination, and all have contributor deals with the cable channel.

For FNC, the good news is that they become the exclusive place to see some major newsmakers like Palin. On the other hand, it brings up an ethical dilemma for some employees in the news division of the network:

Fox insiders, speaking anonymously about what is a sensitive topic for a network worried about outside perception, said no word has been conveyed from the corporate brass to reporters about how to treat what are, for now at least, their colleagues.

Angst is building among news-side employees who want to know when, if ever, the four Republicans will have to cut ties with the network.

“We’re acutely aware of this” stuff, said one Fox insider of the quandary.

The problem is hardly unique to Fox, but the sheer number of candidates involved is unprecedented. Despite the discomfort of some employees, and the irritation it causes to competitors, the benefits would seem to outweigh the costs for FNC.