UPDATE: Just hours after being suspended from his Fox News contract, Rick Santorum is going on rival CNN. The network announced that Santorum will appear on Wednesday night’s “John King USA” at 7 PM Eastern Time.
ORIGINAL STORY: Fox News has suspended the contributor contracts of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, two high-profile Republicans widely believed to be running for president in 2012, for 60 days, the channel announced Wednesday.
Anchor Bret Baier announced the news on the air:
Fox News has suspended its contributor arrangements with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, both of who have signaled possible runs for the [presidency]. The suspension is effective for 60 days. Then, on May 1st, their contracts will be terminated unless they notify Fox that they are not running for president. Now, this has been contemplated from the start, from the very beginning, but it is effective today…this is Fox policy. This is the announcement being made today. It does not preclude other announcements that may be made in the future.
The relationship between Fox News and leading GOP contenders for the 2012 presidency has been a frequent question. Along with Gingrich and Santorum, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are also paid pundits (and, Huckabee’s case, hosts) for the network. Fox News has long maintained that, as soon as any of their contributors announced a run, they would cut their ties. The move on Wednesday, though, comes before Gingrich and Santorum have made any official announcement. (It is widely thought that Gingrich will announce that he is forming an exploratory committee to run on Thursday.)
As the Los Angeles Times’ Matea Gold reported, Santorum and Gingrich both have lucrative contracts with Fox News. Santorum has been making around $100,000 a year, and Gingrich has been making nearly $1 million a year.
Palin and Huckabee are not included in the suspension. Gold spoke to Dianne Brandi, the network’s executive vice president of legal and business affairs, who said that Fox News will take similar steps if either signals a more serious intent to run for office, as Gingrich and Santorum have done.