Sarah Palin to Fox News -- a Step Away from 2012?

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is taking what appears to be a step away from elected office in accepting a new role as a Fox News contributor.

The announcement, as reported by The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg today , answers one of the persistent questions surrounding Palin since she resigned the governor’s office last summer.

Her new gig with Fox News Channel will give Palin a new megaphone, in addition to her 1.1 million-plus supporters on Facebook . The Times reports that Palin has inked a “multi-year deal” that will make her part of the cable outlet’s programming “on a regular basis,” as part of an occasional series.

But while the Fox job will leave room for other pursuits, it’s also the latest sign that Palin, R-Alaska, is looking for ways to build upon her political brand in ways that don’t necessarily include a run for the presidency in 2012.

Though terms of the Fox deal have not been made public, this plus her quick authorship of a bestselling memoir suggest that Palin’s attention has turned to her own finances since leaving public life.

Messages left with Fox and Palin representatives were not immediately returned this afternoon.

UPDATE: Fox News Channel made the formal announcement of the deal this afternoon. According to the press release:

“Palin will provide political commentary and analysis for FOX News Channel (FNC), FOX Business Network (FBN), FOXNews.com, and FOX News-produced special event political programming for FOX Broadcasting.”

“In addition, she will host periodic episodes of FNC’s ‘Real American Stories,’ a series exploring inspirational real-life tales of overcoming adversity throughout the American landscape that will debut in 2010.”

(Time will tell how many of those stories originate from “the real America.” )

Says Palin, in the news release: “I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at FOX News. It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.”

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