Sunday, November 16, 2008

Greta and Sarah: BFFs

(Photo from Fox News Channel)

Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren had beef with this portion
Howard Kurtz’s Nov. 13th column for The Washington Post about her latest interview with Sarah Palin.
[Balitomore Sun TV Critic David] Zurawik calls the Van Susteren interview "beyond friendly," saying: "Greta Van Susteren is totally sympathetic to her and makes no secret about it."
In the blog post (which was removed shortly after it was posted,
here is a screenshot), Greta complains that Kurtz didn’t give her the opportunity to defend herself against Zurakwik’s criticism, even though Kurtz had called her about another topic the day before. Fox News’ mantra “fair and balanced” must be going to her head. Kurtz is under no obligation to provide all sides of every single assertion in a column and should feel free to quote a prominent TV critic without the journalists reference complaining. 

If his column had been specifically about Fox News’ treatment of Palin, then she would have had a point. Kurtz doesn’t give her a chance to respond to 64 words at the tail end of a 1,000 word piece and Greta feels betrayed!? That’s ridiculous. It’s no surprise she took the blog post down, realizing she’d made a mountain out of a molehill.

Zurawik’s characterization of Van Susteren’s interviews as sympathetic is self evident to anyone who has seen any of them. In her latest interview, Van Susteren spent
the first half of the interview letting Palin address rumors about her $150,000 wardrobe and whether or not she insisted Africa was a country. The interview is so pedestrian and accommodating in these ten minutes that Palin herself looked bored. In Susteren’s previous interview with Palin shortly after her nomination, she played to Palin’s strong suit asking her about sports and Title IX, hardly relevant for someone who’s a heartbeat away from the presidency.

In the rest of her blog post Susteren goes on to defend her treatment of Palin, insisting that “you can get a lot of information out of guests by being polite” and that sympathetic does not equal ineffective. But it does equal useless.

When she’s asked general and open ended questions, Palin never has to venture far from her comfort zone. Anyone can speak generally about anything. Palin needs to be driven off her talking points so she can prove to American that she actually understands the issues and has the ability to think critically about them before there’s any talk of 2012.

Greta Van Susteren’s interviews are like meet and greets when they should be obstacle courses.

1 comment:

M. Dery said...

A model blog post-as-micro-editorial: punchy, unapologetically opinionated, yet solidly supported with specific examples. As for the thesis, no, Kurtz was under no obligation to offer Van Susteren equal airtime to rebut the Zurawik charge---the Fairness Doctrine doesn't apply to opinion columns, as you point out---but there is something weasel-y, I think, in Kurtz's decision to castigate Van Susteren by proxy, using another writer's quote to do his dirty work. Why not call her to account himself? More specifically, I wish he had simply rung up Van Susteren and put the screws to her directly, asking why she didn't ask X, Y, and Z? Wish you had done the same. What should Van Susteren have asked Palin? A blow-by-blow deconstruction of the interview, listing the responses or follow-ups you would haved fired off, had you been there, would have added sizzle to this already strong post.