Monday debate: Politicians turned media personalities (and vice-versa)

Welcome back from break, everybody. Scanning my morning news diet for an interesting “Monday debate” topic, I came across an article in today’s New York Times by David Carr on Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s relatively rapid metamorphosis from unknown political actor to multi-million-dollar media property:

She was paid a $1.25 million retainer by HarperCollins. Her book, “Going Rogue,” has sold 2.2 million copies, according to its publisher, and she has another tentatively scheduled for this fall.

She now has an actual television career, including appearances as a pundit on Fox News, her gig as the host of “Real American Stories” four times a year, and a coming eight-part series on TLC called “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” which will cost, according to some media reports, $1 million an episode (a lot more than governors make for “Come visit!” P.S.A.’s).

Other people have crossed the border from politics to media to very good effect — George Stephanopoulos, Patrick Buchanan and Chris Matthews, to name a few — but the transition was far more gradual. Ms. Palin turned on a dime and was a ratings sensation from the word go: her first paid appearance, as a commentator on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Jan. 12, was good for an extra million viewers.

Her appeal doesn’t stop at the red states. When Ms. Palin stopped by to chat with Oprah Winfrey — not exactly friendly territory — the show achieved its biggest ratings in two years.

(You can read the rest of the piece here.)

This is a revolving door that we’ve seen before (wasn’t one of our former presidents a major Hollywood actor?) but in the era of digital networked media and 24-hour broadcast channels it may take on new significance.  What do you think?