Point of View Columns

The Martyrdom of Sarah Palin

Last week it was announced that Fox News would not be renewing Sarah Palin’s contract with the network. Losing her position as a regular on television is just more evidence that the Ms. Palin’s star has lost whatever luster it ever had. But the departure of Sarah Palin is also further evidence that Fox News is just another entertainment network and not a serious source of news.

When John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008 he accomplished several things. First, he demonstrated an awesome disregard for the United States and its citizens by choosing a person who would almost certainly have been the most unqualified Vice President in recent history (although Dan Quayle would have to rank a close second). But John McCain also placed Sarah Palin in the spotlight and gave her a platform for her to advance her own personal career.

From the moment that she claimed that she could see Russia from her kitchen window it was clear that Sarah Palin was not a person to be taken seriously. Her capacity for mangling facts and the English language became the stuff of legend. And there is no doubt that her position on the Republican ticket helped Barack Obama become the 45th President of the United States.

But out of the ashes of defeat, Sarah Palin rose phoenix-like and became a star – a celebrity who was famous for being……………famous. That any group would pay $50,000 – $$100,000 to hear Sarah Palin speak speaks to the power of 21st century celebrity and to the fact that it really didn’t matter whether Sarah Palin had anything of importance to say. It was simply enough that she was a celebrity.

Clearly this was the calculus that Fox News employed in signing Sarah Palin to a $1 million per year contract three years ago. Sarah Palin has no known expertise on any subject except self-promotion. Certainly the occupants of the executive suite at Fox News knew that, but then Fox News is a news network in name only. It is, in fact, a reality show just like “American Idol”, “Real Housewives of Wherever” and “Celebrity Chefs”, except that this reality show takes place in a set made to look like it is part of a news network.

Fox News buys celebrities and doesn’t care whether there facts and truth are part of the script. The fact that it broadcasts opinions that slake the thirst of their parched right wing of the right wing viewers is not the point. What is the point is that rarely are those opinions even in the vicinity of facts and, in many instances untruths, distortions and outright lies are the menu du jour at Fox News.

Election Day 2012 was the final illustration that Fox News is not a news network. Even before the polls closed their cast of commentators did everything but sacrifice a fatted calf to support their hopes and prayers that the Muslim Kenyan communist fascist anti-Christ would be defeated. They defied facts, they ignored statistics and staked their hopes on their belief that somehow, someway, Mitt Romney would deliver them from four more years of Barack Hussein Obama.

Even when the Fox News statisticians and pollsters decisively proclaimed President Obama re-elected, their commentators refused to leave their state of denial. The only thing that they didn’t do was click their heels in the hope that they might return to Kansas.

It is for all these reasons and more that it seems unfair that Fox News in effect fired Sarah Palin. She has never pretended to be anything more than a headline seeking, spotlight searching promoter of the one cause in which she believes with all her heart – Sarah Palin. And in that regard she has not changed.

I can’t help but think that Sarah Palin’s decline accelerated when she got carried away with her “lock and load” rhetoric and then put a gun sight target on the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on her own website – and then the Tucson Massacre happened. Many people have thought that Sarah Palin had blood on her hands after that and she never had planned to play the role of Lady Macbeth.

But clearly, as her popularity has declined, she no longer is an asset to Fox News. She used Fox News to promote her newfound celebrity, and Fox News used her to boost its ratings. Now Fox News has no more use for a fading star on her way to the land of miscellany and trivia. Soon she will be a Jeopardy answer, if she’s lucky.

Fox News has no more use for Sarah Palin and neither does this country.

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