For those of us in the UK, understanding political terminology in the US can be disconcerting. Take the term “Conservative”: in the UK, that suggests someone with a centre-right stance or outlook, perhaps a member of the Tory Party. In the US, saying that someone is a “Conservative”, or part of the “Conservative Movement”, puts them way out to the right – beyond being a mere Republican. And the current darling of that movement is former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
So it was no surprise to see that Palin has been signed up as a pundit and occasional presenter by Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). This is not as daft a move as some may believe: Palin has worked in broadcast media before, and in any case can expect softball treatment from the channel’s “stars”. The style, for instance, of Sean Hannity is that he does not bring comment into play until he has made his conclusion: witness the appearance on his show of Dan, Dan the Oratory Man, where Hannity did not get round to discussing the NHS until he’d stated that such systems “didn’t look pretty”.
So is this good or bad news for the GOP? It may not help the Republican Party to have a media outlet, with someone like Palin on board, making policy for it – especially if it takes that party away from the swing voters needed to get back into power. But the chance of showing his influence will not be lost on Rupert Murdoch. Rupe likes to show he’s got clout. His channel – Fox – cheered for the GOP in 2008, and they lost. Rupe didn’t like that: Fox has been putting the boot into Obama ever since.
Whether Murdoch having more influence over the GOP will bring them success is uncertain: the last “Conservative” candidate cheered on by Palin and Fox lost the contest in a congressional district that the Republicans had held for 16 years. But Palin has no problem with the Fox tie-up, telling that “It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news”.
She’s retained her sense of humour, then.