Intellectually, I suppose if I didn't complain about Mike Huckabee having a show on Fox, I have no right to weep and moan about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin becoming a contributor to various Fox News programs and channels as of Monday.
But I have to be honest: The announcement that Palin has signed a multi-year deal with Fox News makes me feel like 24/7 cable TV has taken another giant step down the road to trafficking in partisan warfare instead of providing a journalism that viewers and citizens can trust. And I do find that depressing.
"Governor Palin has captivated everyone on both sides of the political spectrum and we are excited to add her dynamic voice to the Fox News lineup," Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming for Fox News, said in a statement announcing the deal.
Here is more of the Fox press release:
Here is my problem with Palin as a commentator on a 24/7 news channel, and it is not about liking or disliking her. It is about these supposedly journalistic venues being so hopelessly politicized that we can no longer trust the information they offer.
Don't forget I was one of the guys who most prominently defended Fox as a news channel when the White House last fall said they should not be treated as one. I was concerned with the larger issue of the executive branch trying to bully the press. And I was also outraged by the hypocrisy of the White House saying MSNBC was a news channel, but Fox wasn't. I totally stand by that.
But this is the kind of move by Fox that plays straight into the White House's complaints that it is a political arm of the Republican Party.
Palin made some pretty reckless accusations of the campaign trail last fall. Is this someone you trust to get your political analysis from?
And I am not trying to load the dice. From a programming standpoint, I think this is a savvy move by Fox. Palin will only enhance the channel's incredible ratings advantage.
But do traditional standards of journalism matter at all any more? And I am not asking that rhetorically. I believe this is the kind of move that can contribute to a hopelessly polarized America -- and I don't know if media outlets that ask to be considered news channels should be playing that role.