Are you ready for NBC star Sarah Palin, America?
Sarah Palin will co-host NBC’s Today on Tuesday. The morning show’s website described her visit this way: "She’ll reveal a different side of her than you’ve seen before." Today’s decision to bring in Palin comes during the same week Katie Couric will fill in for Robin Roberts as co-host on Good Morning America. ABC has been heavily promoting the appearance of Couric, who is developing a talk show for syndication that will premiere this fall. Palin’s played the role of on-camera “talent” before: She’s a paid contributor for the Fox News Channel. If it’s a slow news day on Tuesday, perhaps the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate will talk in depth about Julianne Moore’s portrayal of her in HBO’s Game Change, which ranked as the pay net’s most-watched original film in nearly eight years.
The ratings stunt to end all ratings stunts:
This news broke yesterday, so many people understandably dismissed it as an implausible April Fools' joke. Not so; this is happening. It's a win-win-win for NBC, as I see it. Win #1: Palin will probably pull in mega ratings for Today, as hardcore conservatives and liberals alike tune in to satisfy their strangely aligned, yet disparately-motivated, craving for all things Sarahcuda. It's seemingly boundless, on both sides. Win #2: The network gets to simultaneously stick it to both competitor ABC and its own former 'it' girl, who left the NBC for -- ahem -- greener pastures in 2006. Win #3: Saturday Night Live has a no-brainer, turn-key cold open for next weekend's show.
This arrangement is a good deal for Palin, too, assuming her exclusive contract with Fox isn't imperiled by this. As the story above speculates, the former Alaska governor could very well be presented with a choice opportunity to sound off on Game Change and her depiction therein -- which could instantly dominate a sluggish news cycle. Beyond that, she'll engage a large audience that stretches beyond her natural constituency, administer a nice PR boost to her brand, relish the role of "rogue infiltrator," and embrace the irresistable chance to vanquish her one-time tormentor in a head-to-head competition. As Allahpundit coyly suggests, if Palin and Couric exchange subtle (or overt) barbs across networks, Twitter just might spontaneously combust tomorrow morning.
Two parting questions: First, is Palin a shoo-in victor in the ratings battle? Today generally dominates, but Good Morning America has nipping at NBC's heels lately. I think the curiosity factor alone will push the Peacock Network over the top by a fair margin, although ABC will probably see a discernable boost, too. Any chance millions of Lefties will spitefully tune in to GMA just to deny Palin the satisfaction of a win? (My guess: Nah. They can't help themselves -- they love to hate her way too much to suppress the urge to gawk and sneer). Second, are you going to watch? You know you want to.
UPDATE - It begins.