Today, TVNewser broke the news that Mike Huckabee will be leaving his weekend talk show and Fox News as he weights a 2016 presidential run. The good news is that Huckabee stepped aside before any large concerns of conflict-of-interest arose aside from a brief period in November of last year. However, this has showed the double-edged sword of hiring high-profile politicians. They may run again!
Newly delisted public officials tend to make popular cable news pundits because of their familiarity with the game and they are recognizable faces. However, there is also a tendency for politicians to want to get back into the game. Even after years of punditry, they may dip their toes to test the waters. Newt Gingrich, after resigning from Congress as Speaker due to a infidelity scandal, came back to run for President in 2012.
Now in that presidential election, Fox News had to suspend two contributors. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were both suspended in March of 2011 when it appeared like they would run for the Republican nomination.
Of course, the balancing act for networks, as all too common, is ethics versus ratings. A Santorum or Gingrich appearance would boost ratings and in the example of Huckabee, he had a complete show that would air several times. However, it is an increasingly long process to run for President and one has to talk to many potential operatives and donors to see whether or not they should run. While it is possible that the potential candidate has no serious intention, the speculation will become just that.
For news networks, the possibility could be to limit the amount of former public officials that they hire as contributors. A potential pool exists with former White House spokespeople and staff. Fox has had great success with Dana Perino and CNN has recently hired Jay Carney.
However, if a network is to hire a public official, Fox News’s lead is one to follow. In this case, Fox News has acted correctly in the good-old standards department. They struck a correct balance. They moved quickly enough that it did not cause unwanted publicity for the channel, but waited long enough to make sure that Huckabee was serious in seeing for the potential.
Categories: The Conveyors