What Sarah Palin has really been up to lately

Sarah Palin was thrust onto the world stage in 2008 when she became presidential candidate John McCain's running mate in his failed bid for the White House. The nomination was historic, as she was the first woman chosen to be a vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket.

After the 2008 election, Palin became a polarizing political figure, and a powerful, influential player for the Republican party. She also became a reality TV star, landed a gig at Fox News, and continued campaigning and fundraising for Republican candidates. But lately, Palin's public persona has waned. No longer with Fox News, and with her political action committee (fundraising organization) shuttered, some have speculated that Palin is no longer the right wing power broker she once was. So, if her interest in politics has faded, what has she been doing? Here are some answers to that question.

She brought Kid Rock and Ted Nugent to dinner at the White House

Though she was critical of Donald Trump during the election cycle, Palin never stopped campaigning for him. Her initial endorsement ahead of the Iowa caucuses gave him a critical boost in the early days of the Republican primaries. Palin even once mused that her endorsement was "what really got the 'ball rolling' for Trump." And it was widely believed that her unwavering support would land her some kind of position within the Trump administration — more on that later — which obviously never happened.

Instead, Palin was rewarded with an invite to dinner at the White House, during which she posed for this photo alongside Ted Nugent and Kid Rock in which they all mocked the portrait of former First Lady Hillary Clinton. In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Palin said of the photo, "Yeah, I think the picture says it all." Palin also revealed that it was she who invited Kid Rock and Nugent, whom she described as "bold, courageous American dudes," to the dinner. When asked why she chose them as her guests, Palin joked that "Jesus was booked," before saying that she knew they would "have good conversations with the president, and get to express a lot of good middle class, work ethic type of issues and policy proposals that they could all relate to."

She didn't exactly stick up for her female colleagues at Fox News

In the same CNN interview, Tapper asks Palin to weigh in on the sexual harassment scandals that forced both Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes out at her former employer, Fox News. She started with what sounded like a strong voice of support for her former female colleagues, saying, "The corporate culture there obviously has to change, you know, women don't deserve…they should not ever have to put up with any kind of intimidating workspace." And she probably should have stopped there.

But she continued with, "At the same time, if a woman believes that she is being intimidating and harassed, she needs to stand up and do something about it, not stick around for a paycheck for years and years and years and then after the fact complain about what she went through." Which is literally the reasoning often trotted out by defense lawyers against the victims in a sex crime cases. But hang on, because it actually get's worse. "As a strong woman, I say, you know, we're, we should feel more empowered than that, and we should, you know, take a stand, and get out of the place, or, you know, blow the whistle on the, on the, whoever is the perpetrator doing the bad stuff, so that the culture will change," she continued. So, women need to feel empowered to blow the whistle on sexual harassment, just not in their own time, and when they feel safe and comfortable doing it? Seems confusing.  

She sued The New York Times

In the wake of the mass shooting that seriously wounded Rep. Steve Scalise and four others during a practice for the annual congressional baseball game, The New York Times published an editorial that referenced a previous mass shooting in which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was nearly killed. The problem was, the reference also included the debunked controversy linking Sarah Palin to the 2011 shooting. The original editorial states: "Before the shooting, Sarah Palin's political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs."

According to The Washington Post, this is not only an inaccurate description of the map, but it also suggested that the shooting in which Giffords was injured was in part inspired by the rhetoric of Palin's political action committee. Despite a correction that now states "no such link was established," as well as a clarification of the imagery on the map, the former governor of Alaska still slapped The Times with a libel suit. The opening statement of the suit asserts that Palin was defamed by the paper as a result of their "publishing a statement about her that it knew to be false." As of this writing, The Times has yet to formally respond to the lawsuit, although it has stated its intention to "vigorously" defend itself. 

She started a subscription-based video channel

In the summer of 2014, Palin launched the Sarah Palin Channel, a subscription website on the TAPP network which at the time hosted mostly Christian and inspirational programming. According to Vanity Fair writer Bruce Handy's account of his experience with his own membership, Palin created the channel to reach out directly to like-minded folks, and to "go beyond the sound byites[sic], and cut through the media's politically correct filter." Handy writes that what this basically meant was Palin repeatedly calling for Obama's impeachment in between lighter content like showing off ground moose meat in her fridge or reading Dr. Seuss books to her son, Trig.

One year later, the channel shut down, Palin was no longer a part of the TAPP network, and all of the channel's content was made available for free on the now-defunct SarahPAC.com. This was also right around the time that Palin and Fox News parted ways. It seemed as though any type of executive oversight was becoming disagreeable to the Going Rogue author, who then began exclusively communicating via her website and social media accounts. 

Speaking of those social media accounts ...

The former Republican power player has developed an impressive following on both her Facebook page, where she has almost 5 million followers, and her Twitter, which has almost 1.44 million. She seems to use the accounts in a similar way to how she's structured sarapalin.com — posting conservative-leaning commentary on news topics peppered with glimpses into her personal life. And it works. According to Olivia Nuzzi at New York, Palin routinely racks up "anywhere from 100 to several thousand" likes on her Facebook posts.

Although, Palin did slip up recently when she attempted to create a meme to celebrate President Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement. According to The Tampa Bay Times, Palin posted a photo depicting cheering lawmakers with the accompanying text, "Don't be fooled! The Paris climate accord is a SCAM. They pretend it's about fixing our environment…But it's REALLY about stealing Billions from the American people and giving it to foreign countries, governments and lobbyists!" Unfortunately, the photo was of Florida state congressmen cheering the end of a grueling session in 2011, which had nothing to do with climate change or the Paris Agreement. Whoops. 

She piled onto the Kathy Griffin haters

In the wake of the scandal following Kathy Griffin and Tyler Shields' controversial "decapitated Trump photo," there was no shortage of critics from all over the political spectrum. But Sarah Palin seemed to take particular offense due to her claim that she and her children have been a target of "Kathy's soulless vile attacks" for years.

On her Facebook page, Palin posted a scating rebuke of Griffin's tearful press conference in which she declared the Trump family's response to the photo was an attempt to "ruin her life forever." Palin responded by saying, "Kathy's crocodile tears at her publicity-seeking press conference today mean nothing to mothers who've witnessed the ramifications her sick acts have had on precious children." She also highlighted times when Griffin allegedly harassed her daughters Bristol and Willow — a claim seemingly backed up by People — and advised Griffin to "Suck. It. Up. Cupcake." Palin then elegantly ended the post with a link to her merchandise page which sells clothing emblazoned with that every slogan. Remember when we said her social media game was strong? Proof. 

She wanted a cabinet position in the Trump administration

As soon as Trump was elected, the speculation over which of his loyalists would receive cabinet positions began. And since Palin was perhaps his most steadfast campaign companion — aside from Rudy Giuliani and, at one point, Chris Christie — it was almost certain she'd be chosen for some role in the Trump administration. After all, Trump himself told NBC, "But certainly there'd be a role somewhere in the administration if she wanted, and I'm not sure that she does want that. But there'd certainly be a role."

Palin also expressed interest in the secretary position at The Department of Energy, was rumored to be considered for The Department of the Interior, and shared stories reporting her consideration for The Department of Veterans Affairs. As of this writing, Palin has yet to make the move from Wasilla to Washington, so what happened? No one knows exactly why Palin didn't make it onto Trump's executive branch roster, but Carlos Garcia of The Blaze speculated that when Palin called Trump's Carrier deal "crony capitalism," it was perhaps a retaliation for the snub. 

She injured herself pretty badly while 'rock-running'

As a woman who once sparked controversy by joking that the only difference between "hockey moms" like herself and pitbulls was "lipstick," it should come as no surprise that America's most outdoorsy politician engages in something called "rock-running." Which is some kind of sport introduced to the world by Palin when she posted some grisly shots of a gash to her head that she incurred while doing it. According to Deseret News, nobody really knows what "rock-running" is. They speculate that Palin was either literally running over rocks, or mistyped "ruck-running" which is a sport where runners strap on a weighted backpacks. Whatever it is, it's far from the most dangerous pastime Palin has ever promoted. Remember when she advocated shooting wolves and bears from low-flying planes? Yeah, stuff gets crazy up in Alaska.

She signed a deal to star in a Judge Judy-type show

Sarah Palin is uniquely suited for reality television. Her penchant for doling out her brand of folksy Alaskan wisdom, combined with her fearlessness when it comes to courting controversy make her irresistible for audiences who crave endless drama. Which is why the anticipation is killing us over her reported "Judge Judy-style reality show" that's in production as of this writing.  

In March of 2016, People reported that Palin landed a deal with "Montana-based production company Warm Springs" to shoot a pilot episode with "a team that includes the TV executive who found Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown." If the pilot episode gets picked up by enough stations, it will air in the fall of 2017 as "a nationwide syndicated daytime show." In response to how Palin can serve as a judge without "a juris doctor degree," Warm Springs said, "Palin's telegenic personality, wide appeal and common sense wisdom make her a natural for this kind of format." We couldn't agree more, but only if Todd is the bailiff and he's dressed in full snowmobile gear the entire time.