Welcome to the Fox 2012 GOP primary.
Earlier this week, Fox News announced that it was suspending contributors Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as the two considered presidential runs. Tonight, Sean Hannity hosted Gingrich for a 14-minute interview, complete with information on how viewers can find Gingrich's Website where, incidentally, they can give him money.
Yet again, Fox News is serving as a GOP fundraising vehicle.
After returning from his first commercial, Hannity saw fit to remind viewers who may have missed the initial mention of the site:
New York Times reporter Brian Stelter pointed out the concerns of Gingrich's relationship with Fox should he run:
Fox News is run by Roger E. Ailes, a former Republican strategist, who was personally involved in the contracts for Mr. Gingrich, Ms. Palin and others. Although there are no federal prohibitions against people being on the payroll of a television or radio station while running for office -- or contemplating such a run -- executives at competing networks have watched Fox's handling of the could-be candidates with some astonishment.
One such executive on Tuesday called it unethical to have a presidential candidate on a network payroll.
If a candidate is thinking about running, as Mr. Huckabee and Ms. Palin have said they are, they should be treated as de facto candidates, this executive said. He requested anonymity for fear of retribution by Fox.
A Federal Election Commission spokesman said the commission would not comment on any particular cases, but said, "There are some issues that a candidate should be aware of so that air time isn't considered a prohibited contribution to his or her campaign for federal office."
Indeed, Fox News has donated the equivalent of $55 million in free advertising to five of their employees who are potential presidential nominees in 2010, including about $7.41 million dollars for Gingrich.
This is nothing new for our fair and balanced friends, who have previously promoted the fundraising efforts of GOP candidates John Kasich, John Gomez, Sean Bielat, Jim Demint, and Carly Fiorina. As the 2012 election season creeps closer, Fox resembles an RNC candidate forum more and more.