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Greta Van Susteren On The Empowering Nature Of Apathy

Illustration for article titled Greta Van Susteren On The Empowering Nature Of Apathy

Greta Van Susteren is one of Fox News' anchors and even after I kvelled all over Bill Hemmer last week, she was still willing to sit down for an interview. So I trekked over to the Fox News tent at the RNC yesterday to talk to Greta about all the gender issues going on in politics and the media. I was going to ask how the response was different to Fox at the RNC than it was at the DNC, but when I got there, I had to be cleared through security to go into the tent, which was set up to allow RNC delegates and attendees to walk through and gawk at the anchors anchoring and reporters reporting — I also passed a gauntlet of interns handing out plastic hats and McCain's head on tongue depressors — so I didn't really end up having to ask. From her presence and her obvious intellect on the air, I was figuring on her being tall and statuesque, if only because I assume that pretty much all strong, smart women are taller than me — but she ended up being short, petite and a complete force of nature.MEGAN: How many conventions have you been to, and how are this year's different? GRETA: I was at both in 2004 and in 2000, and I honestly can't remember if I went in 1996 — with all due respect, they all start to blur together for me with the big tent and the lights and the media section, the security. I've been around the block. These are different substantively — my experience has been that there's usually an obvious candidate coming into the conventions, an incumbent or whatever. But this time we have Senator McCain and Senator Obama, two people that most people a year ago would not have predicted would be the nominees. So that's different. And for the first time in twenty-four years there's a woman on the ticket. So that makes a difference. The thing that I'm not wild about is that the conventions are so scripted, we could almost put a camera up and talk about these back in the studio. Because of the level of security now, and increasingly over the years, we aren't really interviewing anyone on site. This isn't new gathering anymore, it's news management breaking any news. So I look around a see the expense, how much money the media how to lay out to cover these things and I wonder if I was running the operations if I would do it. MEGAN: With Sarah Palin's nomination, it's been kind of a whirlwind of personal speculation about her and everyone's coming out on a different side about whether or not we "should" be talking about her family. How do you see that from a news perspective? GRETA: Well, every time we have something new, a trailblazer, we tend to come out like scientists with our little microscopes. I think this is one of those times. It used to be that seeing a woman running for Congress it was a new thing and everyone ran around examining them. But now it's fairly commonplace except for on the the ticket. So when it's a woman running for Senate of Congress, it's kind of like, big whoop, we've seen it a million times. But the first one, the trailblazer, always gets dissected like a frog in the lab. Whether it's fair, I don't know. The issues she raises, the fact that she has number of children and a dual role, I think most women in this country would say that women have doing that for a long time, working and having children. MEGAN: Some people have been comparing the way Hillary Clinton was treated in the primary, the sexism there, with how Sarah Palin has been treated. Do you see some kind of comparison there? GRETA: I think it's different. Do I think there's sexism in media? Yes, I will tell you that. They are two completely different roles, so I don't know if you can compare the two. But, like, if a guy wears tight leather pants, we don't write about it. For a woman, we might write about the issues but there will always be a paragraph about what she was wearing. MEGAN: Do you think the clothing discussion is a fair discussion to have and we're just not doing it with men? Or that it's not really a valid discussion? GRETA: I think you will see the blue tie, red tie discussion but, regardless, the level of scrutiny will always be more on a woman. MEGAN: Do you see that as a person in the media? GRETA: I think Katie Couric is a good example. Now, I don't know Katie, I've met her maybe twice. She has the highest job in media, her and Charles Gibson and Brian Williams. And you know how she got that job? She earned it, the old fashioned way. She was an intern at CNN. But the level of scrutiny she got when she took that job, it just wasn't comparable to the level that either of the two men got. Whether you like Katie Couric or not, she's got 30 years of experience and she earned it and she just got hammered by the media. And the women were just as involved with hammering her as men. It's horrible, it's unbelievable. MEGAN: Do you feel like you've been subjected to some of that as well? GRETA: I think I pretty much dodged that bullet. MEGAN: Do you think that's because of the kind of topics you cover? GRETA: I think it's that... I have no idea. It's an issue for every single woman in the media. I'm sure you get it, everyone gets it, I just think maybe I get a little less of it. MEGAN: Do you have any idea how you innoculated yourself? GRETA: I have another career. I have a whole other career, and a career that I liked. I liked practicing law. I liked teaching law. And I'd be happy going back to that. I don't have to do this job. Not caring is very empowering. I like this job. I'm very lucky that I have another one that I like to. Another woman, a single woman, especially one with kids at home? She's in a very different position than I am because she needs that job, especially if she doesn't have anything to fall back on. Having something to fall back on is always a good idea.


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It's so sad how Megan looks all happy and real and Greta can't smile with her eyes because of the surgeries.