Thousand Dollar Amens: Sarah Palin’s Money-for-Drivel
It was recently reported that Sarah Palin’s lucrative, $3 million for 3 years, contract is ending at Fox News and the one-time vice presidential nominee will be parting ways with the news agency.
Of course people should be rewarded for their hard work. To succeed through hard work is the embodiment of the American spirit, and that’s something we can all get behind. But let’s take a closer look at Ms. Palin’s salary — $3,000,000 for three years. Not bad, one might think, that’s comparable to other talking heads at Fox, MSNBC, and CNN.
But then you take an inquisitive fingernail and scratch the lead paint off the surface and see what’s underneath it, and you find what SmartPolitics from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota found.
A Smart Politics review of the more than 150 FOX broadcasts in which Sarah Palin appeared as a paid commentator from 2010 through 2012 finds that she spoke 189,221 words on air during this span, for an average pay rate of $15.85 per word.
Palin appeared on the network in studio, by satellite, by telephone, or in a pre-taped interview an average of once every 7.2 days during this three-year period, with the vast majority of those coming on two particular programs.
Palin discussed President Obama by name 786 times compared to just 41 mentions for her self-proclaimed favorite former president Ronald Reagan (as told to Gretchen Carlson) and Abraham Lincoln with three.
Religion was frequently peppered into Palin’s commentary and the former governor uttered “Amen” 111 times across her 151 appearances.”
For those of you keeping track at home, that’s about $1800 a year for saying Amen once a week, and Palin appeared once every 7.2 days and managed to command seven figures annually.
But wait! Surely that means that her analysis was thoughtful and accurate and she was questioned by Fox’s top journalists!
Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren both interviewed Palin 55 times, combining for nearly three-quarters of her appearances on the network over the last 36 months. (Note: the latter total includes interviews by Griff Jenkins and guest host Martha McCallum on Van Susteren’s On the Record program).
Palin generally avoided the more hard-edged interviewers on the network with less than 20 appearances before Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday (13,970 words) and Bill O’Reilly’s O’Reilly Factor (10,169) combined.
That’s one appearance a week, answering softball questions, and ranting about whatever was on Palin’s mind at the time. Fox News took a big hit to their already thin credibility when they offered her a contract three years ago. It took them three years to realize that she was more of a liability than an asset when push came to shove.
Ms. Palin is an ambitious woman who rose from the Alaskan wilderness and a small state school and carved her way into the national consciousness. That takes talent.
But talent, especially as a political analyst, should also be tempered with intelligence, facts and unbiased empirical evidence. Maybe it’s high time that Ms. Palin realizes it’s better to quit while she’s ahead.
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