Bankrolling book tour, Murdoch emerges as Palin’s top 2012 supporter

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, November 22, 2010 10:41 EDT
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As she embarks on her 16-stop book tour promoting “America by Heart,” former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has one person to be enormously grateful to: media baron Rupert Murdoch.

Palin’s publisher, HarperCollins Publishers, is part of the News Corp. media empire, and they’re bankrolling her tour. It’s not coincidence that her stops focus inordinately on swing-states, either.

That, combined with her employment by the Fox News Channel and her show “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” on TLC, means she could be a real GOP heavyweight in 2012, even as senior party officials seem to loathe her.

As New York Times columnist Frank Rich noted over the weekend, it’s none other than Murdoch who seems to be emerging as Palin’s top 2012 supporter.

“But logic doesn’t apply to Palin,” he wrote. “What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor. She has turned fallibility into a formula for success.”

Amid the flurry of fighting to differentiate herself from the other GOP 2012 likelies — nearly all of whom are employed by Fox News — Palin seems to have succeeded at least in ensuring that her media personality is sustainable through 2012.

Fox News has already dedicated over $40 million-worth in airtime to Republicans seen as likely 2012 candidates. Network anchor Chris Wallace also recently admitted that the station was planning to run the primaries as “a production of Fox News.” He compared their plans to the hit Fox networks show “American Idol,” which, ironically, Palin criticizes in her new book as fueling “the cult of self-esteem.”

But if Murdoch is picking sides, or even just appears to be, that could ultimately fan the flames of a GOP civil war: a topic which has gained increasing traction since the mid-term elections.

And it’s not as though Palin’s celeb status has gone unnoticed. Her recent appearance on the Fox network’s Dancing with the Stars was flagged by all the hallmarks of a talk show introducing a celebrity guest. Fellow Republican former governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee don’t get that kind of welcome wherever they go.

“The editorial page of Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is also on board, recently praising Palin for her transparently ghost-written critique of the Federal Reserve’s use of quantitative easing,” Rich noted. “‘Mrs. Palin is way ahead of her potential presidential competitors on this policy point,’ The Journal wrote, and ‘shows a talent for putting a technical subject in language that average Americans can understand.’

“With Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity on her side, Palin hardly needs the grandees of the so-called Republican establishment.”

With that kind of reception from one of the largest media empires in America, it’d be hard to avoid the same conclusion as Palin, who said recently that if she runs for president — which Palin almost certainly willshe will only talk to Fox News.

With Palin’s poll numbers topping 80 percent among Republicans according to recent Gallup figures, her candidacy for the GOP nomination in 2012 is entirely viable. However, with 52 percent of overall poll respondents saying they have an unfavorable view of the half-term governor, her viability against Obama is entirely in question.

“I have no doubt that she is a formidable force in the Republican Party and very well could be the most formidable force in the Republican Party,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opined in Sept.

The White House had previously said that no matter who wins the GOP nomination, plans are in place to essentially run against the prior Republican administration, calling the 2012 elections a decision between moving forward or going back.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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