Sarah Palin and Bill O'Reilly -- the only question is how high the ratings will go.

What a pair and what an awful politicization of TV news.

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O'Reilly, the highest rated host on cable news TV, introduced the newest star in the Fox News galaxy Tuesday night as a "news analyst." If what Palin did in her debut is news analysis, I'm the governor of Alaska and I can see Russia from my backyard.

This is how the conversation between O'Reilly and Palin mainly went on O'Reilly's hit show:

"Nancy Pelosi," O'Reilly said to Palin referencing the Speaker of the House, "....do you think that she's a kook?"

"I think she, too, is quite disconnected from what her constituents are telling her -- and constituents all over the country ..." Palin replied, before O'Reilly cut back in and upped the ante on Pelosi as "kook."

"Well, she's a San Francisco liberal," O'Reilly said. "But do you think she's actually crazy?"

"I doubt that her San Francisco constituents even are enamoured with her policies and with the guidance she is providing this country."

"Is she further to the left in your opinion than Barack Obama?'

"Perhaps so, yes."

How would Palin know what Pelosi's San Francisco constituents think of her? But that's the rational critique of Palin's words, and that is not the way most of us connect with our TV sets.

In the language of television, that exchange was a perfect interview pas de deux, with Palin sounding intelligent and reasonable with all the "perhaps-es" and the "quites," while O'Reilly deftly introduced the outrageous notion that Pelosi is "crazy" -- and somehow made it seem like it is a widely held belief.

What a cart and pony show. O'Reilly is a TV master, Palin's a TV player, and together they are going to bring orgiastic TV delight to right-wing viewers. I think I actually heard Nielsen People Meters exploding on TV sets in the more affluent suburbs of Baltimore last night when these two really got going.

I will spare you the scenario of O'Reilly teeing up old sad sack Harry Reid so that Palin could talk about her lifelong commitment to "diversity" and how indefensible she found Reid's comments about the color of Obama's skin.

I will also spare you the show-trial-like give-and-take play acting they did with O'Reilly quoting or replaying bad things that were said about Palin on "60 Minutes" so that she could call them "b.s." or label them one-by-one a "lie" and then try to rewrite what she said -- just as she did in her book "Going Rogue."

I must briefly mention, however, the way O'Reilly helped her promote a Tea Party event at which she will be the featured speaker -- and the way he tried to defend her receiving payment for the appearance. I must because I really hate it when O'Reilly uses TV this way to promote partisan events.

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I will also share what she had to say about Obama's sinking poll numbers: "Of course, they're sinking.  It was just a matter of time before more of that reflection of the people's uncomfortableness that they feel towards this administration is manifesting in these poll numbers," she said. "... There is an obvious disconnect between President Obama and the White House, what they are doing to our economy and what they are doing in terms of not allowing Americans to feel as safe as we had felt…"

I forgot how Palin speaks in a grammar and syntax unlike anyone else on this planet, but you get the idea. And I'll tell you what: In a protected TV environment like the one Fox and O'Reilly skillfully provided for her Tuesday night, I think she could be a red-hot ratings winner. And the country and our political conversation are going to be the poorer for it.

I can only imagine what kind of power these two might come to wield in the elections of 2010. This is not news analysis. This is TV as political propaganda.

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