Politico asks an interesting question: "How does a news organization cover White House hopefuls when so many are on the payroll?"
Despite the assumptions, the question is somewhat relevant. But let's start by saying that no one has declared a candidacy, meaning this is all hypothetical. Politico hints that Palin, Gingrich, Santorum, and Huckabee are going to run, which is a guess. (Even though most have denied it at this juncture, I have to think it is a possibility.)
But for the sake of the story, let's just say they do. At issue are Palin's, Gingrich's, Santorum's, and Huckabee's Fox News contracts, which more-or-less prohibit them from appearing on other networks without Fox's permission while still employees of Fox.
Fox has kept a tight grip, and usually doesn't budge. And as a business decision, Fox can't be faulted: they pay their people (I'm sure) good money to only be on Fox. You want to hear Palin, go to Fox. I don't think that's wrong.
The more interesting question is, should any one of them decide to run, is there a conflict of interest? The answer is yes. Fox has a vested interest in them doing well -- again, that's a business thing.
But I don't think it will come to that. Palin, Gingrich, Santorum, and Huckabee are stand-up people, and I believe that they will end their contracts when it becomes obvious they will run.
Which, surprise, is how Fox responded to Politico: "Fox, in an e-mail to POLITICO, indicated that once any of the candidates declares for the presidency he or she will have to sever the deal with the network."
So, in the end, isn't this just really a non-issue? Did other media outlets just want to complain about contracts that leave them in the dark until official declaration and used Politico to do so? You have to wonder...