Last night's kerfuffle between Sarah Palin and Fox News was a classic display of Sarah Palin being, well, Sarah Palin. But her Facebook outburst complaining about Fox canceling her appearance at the Republic National Convention reveals something deeper about Palin’s often rocky relationship with the network. Palin's contract is up in January, and according to sources, Fox News executives are now weighing what kind of deal they would sign, if they sign one at all.
Essentially, Palin and Fox are in the early stages of an elaborate contract negotiation. Palin earns roughly $1 million per year from Fox, making her the highest paid contributor at the network. Fox executives have been disappointed with her ratings; Palin has been disappointed by Fox's decision to not give her top billing on bookings. According to sources, the relationship at times has gotten so bad that much communication has been conducted via Palin’s husband Todd. One thing is clear: It's risky for her to push the envelope too far. Fox has been a central pillar of Palin’s national reach since quitting the governorship, and without the network's platform, it's unclear how she could maintain even her current, much-diminished level of visibility.
Palin's Facebook outburst surely didn't endear her to Roger Ailes, who prizes message discipline and loyalty among his troops. Ailes has been at times frustrated with Palin's erratic public moves since her decision to ignore his advice to remain quiet in the wake of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in 2011. Palin crossed him again when she gave her decision not to run to talk radio host Mark Levin, not Fox.
For now, both sides are making peace. Fox offered an olive branch this afternoon and returned Palin to the conversation via a phone interview with Megyn Kelly. Later tonight, she'll be on with Sean Hannity and Neil Cavuto.
Palin's agent Bob Barnett did not respond to a request for comment; Fox spokesperson Brian Lewis said: "We look forward to having a long and beneficial relationship with the Governor."