Fox News: ‘We are not changing Sarah Palin’s status’

Dylan Stableford

Despite a flurry of reports that Sarah Palin may indeed be inching closer to a presidential bid, Fox News, at least for the moment, has no plans to suspend or drop her as a contributor.

"We are not changing Sarah Palin's status," Bill Shine, Fox News executive vice president of programming, told The Cutline.

Palin signed a multi-year deal with Fox News in January 2010, and has appeared regularly as a political pundit ever since.

The cable network suspended the contracts belonging to a pair of other on-air contributors--former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Senator Rick Santorum--in March pending their decisions about running for president.

Fox then officially terminated those contracts in May, after a network-imposed deadline for Gingrich and Santorum to reveal their 2012 plans passed.

Another on-air personality under contract with Fox, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, recently announced his decision not to run for president on his Fox show.

Palin, though, has been dropping more hints about a run for the White House than Common dropped rhymes there.

The former Alaska governor announced today she will kick off an East Coast bus tour that she's calling "One Nation" this weekend in Washington, D.C. (One of the reported stops: the early primary state of New Hampshire.)

Also on Thursday, the New York Times reported that Palin has re-hired two top political aides who previously helped plan her 2008 vice presidential campaign; according to another report, Palin's husband, Todd, recently purchased a $1.7 million home in Arizona, where it's rumored she would base her potential 2012 campaign.

And a two-hour documentary aimed at re-branding Palin's image is reportedly set to premiere in Iowa next month.

For the time being, these developments are all just "hints." But should they add up at some point to an official Palin bid, they could turn into a big headache for Fox News.

"Palin needs to be careful to not dub tour as 'exploratory,'" Tim Albretch, communications director for Iowa Republican governor Terry E. Branstad, wrote on Twitter.

(Photo via Fox News)