Fox News suspends Gingrich, Santorum

FOX NEWS SUSPENDS GINGRICH, SANTORUM…. One of the unfortunate truths of the political landscape is that the Republicans’ cable news network currently keeps several likely Republican presidential candidates on the payroll.

As of this afternoon, at least for two White House hopefuls, that’s no longer the case.

The Fox News Channel said Wednesday that it had suspended the contracts of two employees, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who are considering running for president.

Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum are both Fox News contributors. By suspending the two men, Fox appears to be addressing long-standing questions about how to handle pundits who are contemplating political bids. […]

Bret Baier, the network’s political anchor, came on Fox News just before noon on Wednesday to announce the decision to suspend Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum.

“The suspension is effective for 60 days,” Mr. Baier said. “Then on May 1, their contracts will be terminated unless they notify Fox that they are not running for president.”

The concern has long been that candidates who collected paychecks from Fox News would be receiving literal in-kind contributions, rather than the routine de facto in-kind contributions the network provides party officials every day. By suspending Gingrich and Santorum, Fox News is resolving at least part of the problem.

Of course, the next question is why Fox News limited the announcement to the disgraced former House Speaker and the defeated former senator. One wonders if the network has been led to believe that such a move is unnecessary for Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and John Bolton — all of whom have expressed interest in the 2012 race, and all of whom receive checks from Fox News.

More likely, though, it’s just a matter of timing. Gingrich and Santorum appear likely to launch campaigns sooner rather than later, prompting today’s move, while the network will probably make identical moves in the future, should Palin, Huckabee, and/or Bolton take steps in that direction.