Indiana's Evan Bayh was not a favorite of liberal Democrats even before he announced his decision to retire from the senate last year. Look for that wariness to increase following Monday's announcement that Bayh will be joining Fox News as a paid contributor. The "Democratic commentator for Fox News" title is somewhat rare. Bayh joins vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, architect of the 2004 Howard Dean campaign Joe Trippi, Clinton administration trade official Kirsten Powers and (depending on who you ask) former NPR correspondent Juan Williams.
The instant reaction has been pretty harsh. At Think Progress, Matthew Yglesias took the move as proof that for all the"high-minded reasons" Bayh used to justify his abrupt retirement, all he really wanted was to "get rich as a lobbyist" and score "a secondary gig as a conservative television pundit." Via Twitter, Slate's Dave Weigel also wondered how a stint on television squared with Bayh's stated desired to leave politics: "Didn't Bayh say he wanted to retire and create jobs?" Liberal blogger Oliver Willis tweeted that Fox executives should be pleased with the hire. It eliminates the chance that the network's "prevailing wisdom might be challenged." After all, argues Willis, that's "why [Fox] hire[s] guys like Bayh" in the first place. Also on Twitter, Salon's Glenn Greenwald expressed his hope that "come 2012, Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman can have a Fox News show and lobbying business together."
Daily Beast media columnist Howard Kurtz was one of the few voices to praise the hire. "Good for the network to have a prominent Democrat," he reasoned. "Even a moderate one..."