If Rupert Murdoch gave Rick Perry any advice for his presidential campaign when the paired dined at a Manhattan steakhouse Monday night, it might have been: Don't work for me. As Politico's Ben Smith notes, none of the top contenders for the 2012 nomination have worked for Fox News. The candidates that have -- Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum -- are struggling in the single digits in the polls, while other Fox contributors who once had presidential ambitions -- Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin -- are sitting on the sidelines. Could a Fox gig be a political career killer?

Huckabee, despite polling in the top two early this year, decided to stay out of the race in May -- and many attributed his decision to his fat Fox paycheck. Pundits predicted we'd know Palin was finally getting in the race when she was dropped from Fox's payroll -- she hasn't been. In January, The New York TimesJeff Zeleny wrote that Gingrich's "reinvention" has been "amplified" through frequent Fox appearances. But polls showed those TV spots didn't warm conservative voters to the notion of President Gingrich. A little TV commentary didn't change the fact that Santorum hasn't won an election in a decade.
 
The New York Times' Jeremy Peters reports that Murdoch "is not particularly close" to the Texas governor, though this is the second time they've had dinner together -- a sign of "Murdoch's outsize status as Republican kingmaker." But maybe that has the direction of the ring-kissing reversed? The New Republic's Walter Shapiro watched 50 hours of Fox coverage of the 2012 campaign in late August, and found that one man had already won the Fox primary: Perry. Hours of footage found brief but "respectful" coverage of former employees Santorum and Gingrich, contempt for moderate Jon Huntsman, surprisingly little on Michele Bachmann, and gentle criticism of Mitt Romney, who could still win, afterall. But Perry got most of the love. Shapiro writes:
Eric Bolling, one of the regular panelists on "The Five," captured the glow surrounding Perry, saying, “We have had this discussion every day since Perry got in the race -- that he is the real deal." O'Reilly, equipped with the biggest megaphone in cable TV news, explained that, because of Perry’s large lead in the polls, he is now "a big target for those who do not like the GOP."...
 
Late-night Fox host Greg Gutfeld offered the most memorable summary on "The Five." "Mitt Romney is like somebody you hook up with periodically until you get serious and you want to meet somebody serious," he said. "He [is] friends with benefits. And Perry is marriage material."