Fox News and potential presidential candidate Ben Carson went their separate ways last week. Is Fox host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee next?
The tension between Huckabee’s current job and possible future job has been laid bare in a number of recent news stories. Huckabee, who sought the Republican nomination for president in 2008, is clearly considering a second run — which would mean he’d have to give up his Saturday night show on Fox News.
On Wednesday, Fox News executive vice president of programming Bill Shine indicated that a decision might be made soon.
“We are taking a serious look at Governor Huckabee’s recent activity in the political arena and are evaluating his current status,” Shine said in a statement to CNN. “We plan on meeting with him when he returns from his trip overseas.”
Due to Huckabee’s trip, this Saturday’s edition of his show has already been taped.
The show, titled “Huckabee,” typically draws about 1.3 million viewers on Saturdays, making it a valuable platform for anyone who might want to run for office in the future.
Fox News has been a home for any number of prospective candidates in the past, including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Sarah Palin. The cable channel has a policy that requires a person’s contract to be terminated if the person forms an exploratory committee.
Sometimes it severs ties with political types before they even take that step. Last week Carson — who has been mulling a presidential bid — confirmed that his paid contributor arrangement with Fox had been terminated.
“Fox News felt I needed complete independence to fully examine my options,” Carson said in a statement. “My departure has been thoroughly amicable and is in the best interest for both Fox News and myself.”
Carson was just a paid commentator — Huckabee has a much higher profile on Fox, given that he has a weekly program.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Huckabee is “reconnecting with activists,” seeking staff members and meeting with potential donors in advance of a potential presidential race.
“Advisers are already scouting real estate in Little Rock, Ark., for a possible presidential campaign headquarters,” The Post reported.
Huckabee acknowledged in an interview with The Post that he has “obligations in broadcasting” and thus “I have to be very careful about this.”
A few weeks ago, in an interview with RealClearPolitics, Huckabee described how his show on Fox had helped him on the future-campaign trail in Iowa and elsewhere.
Eight years ago, “they didn’t recognize me, and that was true all over the country,” he said. “And now I come back, and I’ve been in these people’s homes every week.” (Imagine the envy that some other prospective 2016 presidential candidates probably feel while reading that.)
Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group that scrutinizes and criticizes Fox, said Wednesday that “Huckabee has provided just as much evidence he plans to run for president as Carson” and called on Fox to drop Huckabee.
“If the network is actually serious about not wanting to keep political candidates on its payroll, it should suspend Huckabee,” the group said in a statement.