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Sarah Palin has unimpressive debut on 'O'Reilly Factor'

Former U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin makes

Former U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin makes her first appearance as a FOX News Channel contributor on "The O?Reilly Factor" on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. Photo Credit: Fox News Channel

Sarah Palin's TV career began on "The O'Reilly Factor" Tuesday night, and now, time for a grade: C.

OK, C +.

Maybe nerves were to blame, or the blunt fact that she is suddenly the highest profile commentator in the history of Fox News.

But Palin needs work. She needs to smile more. She needs to slow down. She needs to get off her talking points.

She needs to give the appearance that she's actually thinking when she speaks - a hard skill for any commentator when the hot lights are on and Bill O'Reilly is asking the questions.

She needs to sit higher in her chair. She needs to exhibit a sense of humor and irony and fun.

Most of all, she needs to dispel (immediately) the impression this is all just a warm-up for a run in '12.

Do all that and Fox has a winner. The camera loves Palin, but based on Tuesday night, it's unclear whether she feels the same way about the camera.

The whole thing began cozily, cheerily, as if presumably simpatico O'Reilly was interviewing the presumably simpatico ex-candidate and best-selling author.

They spoke of policy, President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi . . . There's an "obvious disconnect" between the president and the American people. . . of course [Obama's approval ratings] are sinking."

Then O'Reilly turned into (well) O'Reilly. He asked her about the book "Game Change," by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

"The rest of America doesn't care about that kind of crap," she snapped, regarding stories about her.

She was happy, however, to weigh in on the negative stories about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's "Negro dialect" comment (" . . . hypocrisy is another reason why so many Americans are disgusted.")

O'Reilly - who even noted "the perception of you is that you're not smart" - ended by asking how her first interview as a Fox employee went: "I couldn't ask for anything better."

Oh, yes, Ms. Palin. You could have.

>> Click here to see photos of Sarah Palin through the years

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