Can a TV Show Save Rob Ford's Career? A Study in 3 Cases

The scandal-prone Toronto mayor is not the first to go from politics to the small screen.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford displays a milk moustache as he takes part in voting with city council members in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013.
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Though the Toronto Council voted Friday to strip Mayor Rob Ford of some of his powers, Ford should at least take consolation that he has been given a back-up job. The Toronto Sun News announced Thursday that Ford would be getting his own show with his brother Doug Ford, a Toronto councilman, on the right-wing Sun News network. The show, called "Ford Nation," will be an on-screen version of the brothers' radio talk show – which was canceled Nov. 8 – and will kick off on Monday.

Ford has been on a rash of bad and very public behavior, that has included an alleged video of him smoking crack, his admissions of buying illegal drugs and driving drunk, a denial that he had oral sex with a staffer in which he invoked the vulgar phraseology of a teenage boy and one very bad tie.

It's no surprise execs see him as the perfect candidate for the small screen. And he follows a long line of embattled and disgraced politicians who have tried with some of success to revive their careers with television shows. How did it work for them? A few case studies:

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1. Joe Scarborough: Scarborough was first elected as Republican U.S. representative from Florida in 1994 but, in 2001, resigned from his seat, mid-term, citing the desire to be a better father to his children. The death of an aide in his Florida office two months later got the Internet gossip mill churning – though there was no evidence of foul play found. In 2003, MSNBC signed him on, first for "Scarborough Country," a primetime political talk show, and then "Morning Joe," his current gig that he hosts with Mika Brzezinski.

Did it work: Yes! "Morning Joe" is the favorite a.m. program of #ThisTown and Scarborough is well situated in the Washington establishment. Politicos take him seriously enough that rumors emerged he was considering a VP run with then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on an Independent ticket, and when he says he is thinking about running for office again "down the road," no one laughs their faces off.

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2. Eliot Spitzer: Once the New York governor, Spitzer had to resign his post in 2008 when it emerged he had been carrying on with prostitutes. Two years later he signed with CNN to host a primetime discussion show with Kathleen Parker, "Parker/Spitzer," which later became a Spitzer solo show called "In the Arena." He lasted at CNN for a year until "The Arena" was axed, and he moved to Current TV with his show "Viewpoint." In January 2013, he announced he would be leaving Current, which had been recently acquired by Al Jazeera. In July, he announced his run for New York City Comptroller.

Did it work: Somewhat. Spitzer lost the Democratic primary race to Scott Stringer, but in a race that was far more competitive than anyone was expecting. While there has been speculation of another run for office, his spokesperson said he is now focused on his family business.

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3. Sarah Palin: Former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin became the laughing stock of the election due in part to a botched "60 Minutes" interview, a Tina Fey skit and an HBO movie about the race. But, in addition to scoring a regular contributor spot on Fox News, she also starred in a TLC reality TV show "Sarah Palin's Alaska." Her daughter Bristol got a turn on "Dancing With the Stars," as well as her own reality show "Life's a Tripp".

Did it work: Not really. Palin left Fox News in January, only to rejoin in July. Neither her nor Bristol's reality series made it to a second season. Palin is currently promoting her book about the war on Christmas, but anytime she floats another political run, she is met with mockery on social media.

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