Was Palin worth $3 million for FOX?
Professional commentators can earn a pretty well-respected paycheck for their ability to go on TV and spout off about relevant topics. Heck, they get paid for the irrelevant ones too.
Paid commentators aren't anything new in the world of TV, and having multi-million dollar contracts is not far from the norm.
Those of you that watch a lot of sports coverage know that former coaches and players make up the bulk of the analysts on the various networks. On Sunday, former quarterback Phil Simms will join announcer Jim Nantz in the booth for the Super Bowl. And a number of former players and coaches will be part of the CBS coverage team all week long.
Outside of sports, the role of paid commentators and contributors is usually played within standard newscasts and special productions. For instance, CNN contracted with Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for George W. Bush, as a political analyst who would appear on a number of the network's news shows. Fleischer also gained knowledge and perspective while working with former baseball slugger Mark McGwire and his PR strategy while the player was admitting steroid use.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a paid health commentator and contributor for CNN while he also serves as the associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
When a contract comes to an end, it can make headlines. Take, for instance, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. After being thrust into the public eye, the Alaska governor stepped down from her office to write a book and go on a national speaking tour. She also signed a three-year deal with Fox News Channel to be a political contributor.
Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren, and their regularly scheduled programs, interviewed Palin 55 times. According to a study by Smart Politics, Palin appeared on the network an average of once a week. If she was paid a million dollars a year, that came to about $15 a word.
The question is, was Palin worth her price? I question if any contributor is truly worth their price for the "work" they produce.
Breaking it down to the dollar per word is stupid and out of context. If Palin brought in more viewers to the network, ones that stayed to watch even when she wasn't on, then the return on the investment was worth it. If more advertisers bought spots during the broadcast day, just because a commentator brought more people to use that product or service, then the ROI was positive, as well.
The networks get this, the politics don't matter. If the slant for a certain point of view brings in ratings, that's good business. If a commentator can boost the profile of the network, that's good business too.
AX MEN: If you caught Sunday's episode of "Ax Men" on then you are now familiar with the Wisconsin Woodchuck, a crew tasked with dismantling a grain elevator in Superior. Former Chicago Tribune editor Judy Peres is one of the parties behind the project and the one who gave the green light for the History Channel reality show.
As it is with all shows of this nature, part of it is real, the other is far from history. One of Peres' former co-workers documents the experience here.
GENERALLY SPEAKING : Bill O'Reilly, beyond being known as a talk show host on Fox News Channel, is a student of history. His "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Kennedy" were long-time best sellers and considered to be a great look at the presidents in our past. He often is able to bring his historical knowledge into his present interviews, and now he has the chance to do that with former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
You can see the interview at 7 p.m. tonight on "The O'Reilly Factor."
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