Sarah Palin Slams President Obama, Critics in Fox News Debut

Sarah Palin made her debut as Fox News pundit Tuesday night.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2010— -- Fresh from her book tour, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is trying out a new role as a Fox News pundit.

The newest employee of Fox News channel made her debut Tuesday night on the network's flagship show, "The O'Reilly Factor."

"I'm grinning today, and I'm so appreciative of the opportunity to get to work with you and the team members here at Fox News to provide the fair and the balanced reporting and analysis voters in this country deserve," Palin told host Bill O'Reilly.

Experts say Palin's new role could be a hit or miss for her, depending on how she crafts it.

"I think she's got to lose just being a victim," said Tina Brown, founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast. "If that's the only brand, it's going to tire off after a while."

"On the face of it, it seems like a great role," Brown said on "Good Morning America." "But at the same time, she might also discover what she sort of discovered as a candidate. ... It's actually harder than it looks to be a good pundit on the air. You've got to have stuff to say."

Larry Hackett, managing editor at People Magazine, said Palin would likely attract a large audience in the beginning, but it's what she does over time that will determine whether she can keep that fan base.

"She has to metamorphosize it into something else, otherwise people might get bored," he said on "GMA."

The former GOP vice presidential candidate didn't waste any time in attacking her detractors, and taking issue with what she said were "lies" about her.

She fired back at critics of her performance as Sen. John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential campaign and kept up her ongoing attacks on the Obama administration.

Palin's critics sniped at her new role as consultant even before her appearance on air.

"Not since Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag has there been a couple so well suited for one another," Hari Sevugan, the Democratic National Committee's press secretary.

When O'Reilly asked Palin why, in his view, so many "pinheads" seemed threatened by her, she said, "Obviously, it's not about me, it's not about me, personally. They don't like the message. They don't like the commonsense conservative solution that I think that I represent and you articulate. They don't like to hear it."

Palin may have a strong fan base, as evident by the turnout for the book tour, but three recent polls show more Americans disapprove of her than approve of her, and a vast majority says she's unqualified to be president.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll in November, three out of five Americans said they thought Palin was unqualified to be president. Fifty-two percent said they viewed her unfavorably, 34 percent said they "strongly" shared that sentiment, while 43 percent had a favorable opinion. Fifty-three percent said they definitely would not vote for Palin if she were to run for president in 2012.

Palin's new gig on Fox News is unlikely to change that view and break the perception that she's ill-prepared for the presidency. Her attacks on President Obama and the administration are also unlikely to help her.

Sarah Palin Makes Fox News Debut

Palin took issue Tuesday night with a "60 Minutes" interview with former McCain-Palin campaign manager Steve Schmidt, who said Palin thought Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks, didn't know the difference between North and South Korea and didn't know who her son would be fighting in Iraq.

"Yes, that surprised me," Palin told O'Reilly. "I hadn't seen the '60 Minutes' thing. I had been warned, you know, don't watch. It's a bunch of BS from Schmidt and from some of those ..."

She denied Schmidt's claim that she was "in chaos preparing for the debate" with Sen. Joe Biden during the presidential campaign in 2008.

"That is not true. And Steve Schmidt told us how overjoyed he was after the debate, so pleased with the way everything turned out, as he was after the convention," Palin said.

Palin also spoke about the recent controversy surrounding Sen. Harry Reid's remarks that were published in a new book on the 2008 presidential campaign, "Game Change." The Nevada senator called then-Sen. Barack Obama a "light-skinned" African-American who did not have a "negro dialect unless he wanted to have one," according to the book.

Palin called Reid's comments "perplexing" and "unfortunate."

"You can't defend those comments. That way of thinking is quite foreign to, I think, most Americans today," Palin said, adding that she comes from a diverse state and that she is married to an Alaska native.

"I don't believe that he's a racist," Palin said of Reid. "But I don't believe that Trent Lott was a racist, either."

Republicans have called for Reid's resignation, citing the Democratic outcry in 2002 that led Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., to resign from his position as Senate majority leader, after he praised former senator and segregationist Strom Thurmond.

"That hypocrisy is another reason why so many Americans are quite disgusted with the political games that are played, really on both sides of the aisle, but in this case, on the left-wing," Palin said.

"That they are playing with this game of racism and kind of letting Harry Reid's comments slide, but having crucified Trent Lott for having essentially, along the same lines, saying the same."

Sarah Palin Goes Back to her Roots

The career change takes Palin back to her roots. She majored in journalism with a focus on broadcasting at the University of Idaho.

This is also her first job after stepping down as Alaska governor in July, and publishing her memoir, "Going Rogue." Palin's resignation as governor fueled speculation at the time that she was being offered a TV deal, but she dismissed that claim.

Palin has signed a multi-year deal with Fox, where she will offer political commentary and analysis on its cable news and business channels, Web site and its radio network. She also will host a new series about inspirational stories about Americans who have overcome adversity.

But Fox didn't just hire Palin for inspiration.

"You know, there's always that; that controversy that seems surrounding whatever it is that I announce that I do," she said.

Palin will appear next month at the first convention of the tea party group, a movement she has called "beautiful."

ABC News' David Chalian contributed to this report.