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Why Won't FOX Just Get Out of Palin's Way?

I am still trying to figure out why the usually brilliant Fox News unnecessarily reached too far, took a tumble, and skinned its right knee.

I'm talking about all this hoopla surrounding Sarah Palin's show on the conservative cable news network - "Real American Stories" - that premiers tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

For the past few days, the network has been teasing the show relentlessly by trumpeting that it will feature guests to include rapper/actor LL Cool J, and country singer Toby Keith.

I guess both Cool J and Keith have "real-life tales of overcoming adversity" to tell, which is how Fox is touting the show.

Except it turns out that neither agreed to be on the show. It also turns out Fox never intended to have them on the show in the first place.

Did I hear you say, huh?

OK, even though Fox should be doing all the explaining here, I'll give it a whirl:

What the cable network apparently meant by 'guests' was that it would actually be running two-year-old interviews of these gentlemen, that according to The Washington Post, were stored in a vault at the station as part of some web project called "Real American Stories."

So I guess Palin was going to look into the camera and wink: "Now we will go to the videotape of these interviews that were conducted when Fox was just waiting for some red-hot rocket like me to be launched from the forbidding frontier of Alaska, to blow up the political landscape, and then land as the host of this show!"

Well, Cool J, who unfortunately has joined the millions who prefer to 'tweet' instead of speak, snapped up his cell phone when he heard he was scheduled to be on the show and tweeted this bold rejoinder:

Fox lifted an old interview I gave in 2008 to someone else & are misrepresenting to the public in order to promote Sarah Palin's Show. WOW

Keith is old school and lets his representative speak for him. They had this to say to the entertainment website, Hitfix:

"We were never contacted by Fox. I have no idea what interview it's taken from. They're promoting this like it's a brand new interview. He never sat down with Sarah Palin."

For its part, Fox had this to say:

"Real American Stories features uplifting tales about overcoming adversity and we believe Mr. Smith's [LL Cool J] interview fit that criteria. However, as it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career."

Does that read snarky to you? Anyway ...

As of this moment Keith's taped segment is still on, but if Fox is lucky, people like me will continue following this mess to its even messier conclusion. If you are brave enough to Google this cliffhanger, you will most likely come across enough action-packed stories to keep you busy at your cubicle until lunch.

Here's the part I simply do not understand about this whole thing: Why is Fox even bothering with this covert marketing campaign for the show?!

I mean, if you are smart enough to recruit Palin to do some show, why would you screw it up by having any guests on the thing in the first place -- taped or otherwise?

If there's a hotter act anywhere, let me know about it.

Palin is a one-woman lightning storm. Throw her name out in a public place and a third of the people will dive for cover, another third will make a grab for their handy American flags, while the final third just shake their heads pathetically.

All the marketers at Fox had to say was this:

"Sarah Palin will be hosting a show on our network for one hour Thursday night. We have no idea what will come out of her mouth."

Admit it, you'd watch.

(Got a tip, a gripe, or some kudos? Send 'em along.)