Fox News' Double Standard About Suspending Its Presidential Candidate-Employees

Earlier this week, Fox News announced that they were suspending the contributor contracts of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum for 60 days while they both mull their presidential runs. Since then, many commentators, including conservatives like Dan Foster at NRO, have questioned why Fox chose to suspend Gingrich and Santorum but not fellow Fox employees/potential presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.

Responding to the apparent double standard in an interview with the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Fox News VP Dianne Brandi said that unlike Gingrich and Santorum, Palin “hasn't done anything herself to show us she has any intention of running right now.” Fox's websites and on-air personalities apparently disagree with this point, since they are eager to hype any possible indication that Palin may be running.

For example, last November, Palin told ABC News that she thinks she could beat Obama in 2012 and was “looking at the lay of the land” to decide if she was going to run for President. Both Fox Nation and promoted Palin's statement that she could beat Obama on their front page.

America's Newsroom host Martha MacCallum described the interview on-air as a “bombshell,” said that Palin “certainly sounds like she's planning on running,” and noted that it was “not too early for folks to be declaring.” In January, MacCallum and her co-host Bill Hemmer agreed on Fox News Radio that Palin “will run” for president.

During a November 2010 appearance on Brian Kilmeade's Fox News Radio show, Bret Baier, the anchor of Fox's flagship news program, Special Report, said that “I think she's running. I think you think she's running. You know, I think that you could actually paint a scenario where she is very successful in places like Iowa and South Carolina. And those being early states, you wonder how far towards the nomination she could go, or if she could capture it.” (Speaking of her odds of winning the nomination were she to run, Special Report featured her in its 12 for '12 series about potential GOP candidates and gave her 5-1 odds of winning the nomination.)

More recently, when Palin hired a new Chief of Staff last month, Fox Nation hyped the story as a “Strong Indication of 2012 Presidential Run.”

In January, after Palin released her video response to the Arizona shooting controversy, Fox News contributor Juan Williams said that Brit Hume told him her response “looked like somebody who's now thinking of running for president.”

The network frequently discusses whether or not Palin is running, both in interviews with her and in countless stories about her.

If Fox is going to try to benefit from hyping everything Palin does as an indication she is running for president, isn't it unethical to then pretend that she has not “done anything herself to show us she has any intention of running right now” when it would cause the network to have to suspend her contract? (Answer: yes.)

And that's to say nothing of fellow putative candidate Mike Huckabee, who shows up in segments like this one on Fox & Friends last weekend, where they discussed his potential run over chyrons stating that he is a “Great Communicator,” asking if he is the “Man For The Job,” and telling viewers that he has “Had Success In Early Ballot States.”