Any schlub can get invited to do the occasional guest-spot on cable news. But how big do you have to be to get the network to build you your own in-house studio? According to a fun look by the Washington Post's Ned Martel, you have to be Mary Matalin/James Carville big. Ari Fleischer big. Steve Schmidt big. Steve Schmidt's mortal-enemy big. Of course, not to take anything away from these talking heads' cachet, but it also helps if you live in a remote location, like Alaska or New Orleans or Westchester (remote according to cable-news geography).
Now, there are in-house studios and then there are in-house studios. For instance, "In the Carville-Matalin house, CNN’s team of techies mounted a smallish camera — called a Cisco link." That sounds nice. Same with Fleischer's setup, which he described to the Post as a "smallish invasion with smallish equipment." Cute. Then there's the Palin setup: "[U]nlike the instruments that MSNBC and CNN install, the Palin-cams are satellite-linked and high-definition — and thus, have a nyah-nyah factor." Game, set, match.