Former senator Scott Brown made the transition from potential comeback politician to pundit in just two weeks, making his debut as a contributor to Fox News Wednesday night on “Hannity” on Wednesday night.
Brown joined Sean Hannity to weigh in on President Obama’s State of the Union address, an addition to the lineup that seemed to portend change at the conservative network, whose commentators are more likely to toss red meat than to advocate bipartisan compromise.
Fox recently ended contracts with conservative firebrands including Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, and Dick Morris, the former political adviser who insisted throughout the recent presidential campaign that Republican Mitt Romney was going to win in a landslide.
Instead, Fox added Brown, who campaigned in his race against Elizabeth Warren as an independent-minded Republican, along with liberal former congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
Fans and skeptics alike saw the move as a plush landing pad for the Republican, a telegenic former model who used his regular-guy appeal to great effect in his campaign for US Senate and whose upset win in 2010 was championed and chronicled on Fox.
A spokeswoman for Media Matters, a left-leaning research center that monitors conservative media, said Fox has allowed other potential candidates to maintain or expand a national profile. She pointed to punditry by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum before they joined the GOP presidential primary and by Palin and Mike Huckabee when they were actively considering candidacies.
“I think it’s all about raising your national profile, which is probably good for fund-raising later,” said Jess Levin, national press secretary for Media Matters. “This is a network that has embraced him in the past and has had pretty much nothing but kind things to say about him. That seems to make sense.”
To some political observers, Brown’s involvement was further evidence that he is taking an extended break from a campaign of his own.
After losing reelection to Warren in the fall, Brown announced on Feb. 1 that he would not make a bid for the state’s other US Senate seat, vacated by John F. Kerry, who became secretary of state.
Since Brown remains popular, some in the GOP continue to hope he will run for governor in 2014, but a regular job as a Fox commentator may indicate otherwise, some say.
“It’s hard not to take it as an indication he’s unlikely to run for governor,” said Republican political consultant Rob Gray. “A regular gig on Fox likely turns off many moderate voters in Massachusetts. Cable TV ratings tend to revolve around controversial stands and conflict, so it’s hard to imagine he won’t get sucked into some issues that wouldn’t help him in any Massachusetts run in the near future.”
Neither Brown nor Fox spokesmen would return calls to discuss the terms of his contract, how much he is being paid, and how regularly he will appear on the network.
In a a press release issued by Fox, Brown said: “I am looking forward to commenting on the issues of the day and challenging our elected officials to put our country’s needs first instead of their own partisan interests.”
The network’s statement said he will offer political commentary on various programs during the day and in primetime.
“Senator Brown’s dedication to out-of-the box thinking on key issues makes him an important voice in the country, and we are looking forward to his contributions across all FOX News platforms,” Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming for the network, said in the statement.