In your face, Katie Couric: Sarah Palin is now a TV news interviewer too. And her debut performance — April 1 on Fox News’ Real American Stories — clearly appealed to her base. With a folksy salute to everyday people in difficult circumstances (such as the family of a soldier who died in Iraq), Palin drew 2 million viewers, beating both Anderson Cooper on CNN and Countdown on MSNBC. (Guess the hubbub over pulling the LL Cool J interview didn’t do much damage.) Those ratings were enough to persuade Fox to make more: New episodes featuring Palin are now in the works.
Of course, the former governor started her career as a sportscaster on an Alaska news show. But is being a TV personality really her future? Or is the 46-year-old merely keeping her wink limber while she waits for the 2012 presidential campaign? Her recent stumping for John McCain and her Tea Party speeches indicate a continued interest in politics. But those on competing shows believe Palin, who recently inked a deal with Discovery for a documentary series on Alaska, will be sticking around TV for a while. ”Once you’ve lost the vice presidential ticket, there’s no future in politics,” says Lawrence O’Donnell, a former Clinton aide who is currently a commentator on MSNBC. ”This is the end — she has gone show business, from which she shall never return.” One of the guys Palin beat on April 1 also thinks she has a career in cable news. ”She could make it in this business,” concedes Keith Olbermann. ”On weekends.” — (Additional reporting by Keith Staskiewicz)