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Van Susteren Hits New Heights of Hypocrisy on Holloway

Reported by Nancy - August 29, 2005 -

Friday night (8/26), "On the Record" was all about -- you guessed it -- Natalee Holloway. You may already be aware that Greta Van Susteren has an onling blog at the foxnews.com website. You may not be aware that, in a blog entry earlier this week called The Plain Truth, she tried to defend her obsessive coverage of Holloway. As usual, not only was it hysterically funny to read the contortions she went through to try to make her point, it was illuminating to see just how many of her "facts" this "investigative reporter" got wrong.

Let's start where she starts:

I have read with some puzzlement the criticism of our show for focusing on so many missing people — including Natalee Holloway. The criticism does NOT come from the familes of missing people (they are desperate for our help) and it does NOT come from the many police departments we work with on these stories (they are very, very, very grateful for our help.) It comes from some print journalists who would rather throw stones, than help. Their ink and space could be put to better use than criticizing those helping the families and the police. I wish they would help — we have an epidemic.
Good definition of the role of an advocate. Wrong definition of the role of a journalist. And to pretend that she's doing all this to be "helping the families and the police"! It's the ratings, it's always been the ratings, it always will be the ratings.

She's definitely wrong about her timeline:

Much of the criticism got started when Bob Costas declined to guest host for Larry King last week.
Wrong. Our criticism regarding Van Susteren's & Fox's obsession with Holloway goes back to the beginning of June. So does criticism from many other sources. In addition, we & others have long been very critical of the media in general, & of Fox in particular, for its obsession with "missing cute white girls" to the exclusion of other missing persons. This is most assuredly NOT new criticism.

After some speculating about why Costas may have declined -- a curious excursion for someone who casts herself as an "investigative reporter" -- Van Susteren gets to the core of her "argument::

Here is the plain truth: We have a missing persons problem — a giant one. The problem includes adults and children. It is here in the United States and overseas.
Fine, Greta. Then DO investigative reporting about "the problem". Describe it, analyze it, present your findings. As it stands right now, the only thing you've been telling your viewers for the past 3 months is that there's only one missing person -- Natalee Holloway -- who matters.

Of course, like any good FNC employee, she can't resist an attempt to mischaractize her perceived "enemies" (i.e., critics):

We can either help or spend our time acting holier than thou ("I would never do such a story... I prefer to do high brow stories")
The classic "straw man argument" -- creating an argument that does not accurately reflect the arguments of her critics in an effort to make them appear weak or ridiculous.

Next, she rolls out a standard FNC tactic -- imply that your "enemies" (critics) are aligned with those other evil "enemies" (critics) of the Bush administration:

Like what? Character assasination of Judge Roberts for sport? I have seen those swipes at him. He is not my first choice, but he is an able man with a distinguished legal career and yet people want to rip him apart — including checking out his kids' adoption papers! It does not get much dirtier than that! )
Wow! Talk about changing horses in midstream. Roberts, his SCOTUS nomination, & the Senate hearings that will be starting next month are about as far removed from Natalee Holloway as it's possible to get. But in FoxWorld, hey, an enemy is an enemy & must be attacked by any & all means.

Then there's the phony compassion, guaranteed to play well with the ghoulish audience equally obsessed with Holloway:

I do know that this skirmish over the topic of our show is very hurtful to the many families who are suffering with missing loved ones. They don't want us to back off. I actually talk to the families — do the critics?
Admit it, Greta: The reason you "talk to the families" is to get "exclusives" -- for the ratings.

She repeats her earlier assertion -- again without documentation -- about how "grateful" law enforcement agencies are, but adds a twist trying to minimize the extent of the coverage she's devoted to Holloway:

I also know that the many law enforcement agencies greatly appreciate our help and would be horrified if those of us who cover these stories were intimidated into not doing these segments because there are critics.
"Segments"? SEGMENTS? Wrong again. If all you did were the occasional segment, there would be nothing to criticize. It's the non-stop, wall-to-wall, endless, obsessive pandering with one carefully selected victim (white, young, pretty, female) that's being criticized.

After a few more paragraphs in attack mode:

As for [those] ... who are critical, if you are bored this summer and can't find anything to write about .... You don't have to "soil your hands" with such topics as missing children or adults ... many naysayers in the print world have dwindling circulation ...
... she repeats her earlier assertion -- again without documentation -- that we have an "epidemic" of missing people:
... you can instead investigate whether we give our law enforcement sufficient funds and tools to help stop this growing epidemic. It is a real problem and they need your help.
Wrong -- unless you redefine "epidemic" to mean "pretty young white girls/good for ratings." According to dictionary.com, an epidemic is, in addition to the obvious medical definition, "A rapid spread, growth, or development". The DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) regularly publishes many reports on many topics, but they don't seem to have one devoted exclusively to "missing persons", or "kidnapping", or "abduction" -- which they certainly would if there were some kind of "epidemic" going on. There is an annual report about victims of violent crime, (murder, rape & sexual assault, robbert & assault), but it does not break out data for "missing persons" who are also victims of those crimes. So how "epidemic" is this? Well, as it turns out, violent crime rates declined since 1994, reaching the lowest level ever recorded in 2003. Exactly the opposite of "epidemic".

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children the last big study of missing children was done in 2002 & shows that boys go missing more often than girls & that minorities have higher rates of going missing than whites, though the actual numbers of missing whites are higher. It also shows that the numbers of disappearances have gone down. There is a recent report by MSNBC which points out that the percentage of missing people that are black is 29.1% while the actual percentage of blacks in the population is 12%.

Van Susteren ends with a grateful email from the brother of a missing man she claims to "have been covering from time to time on our show", & with the usual invitation to send comments:

Send your thoughts and comments to: ontherecord@foxnews.com
Please do -- especially if you've got "tips" or "dreans" or "physics" to recommend,

General comment: Just for the heck of it, let's see how many of Van Susteren's blog entries archived over the past 2 months have been directly about Holloway:
*Blunder in Aruba? (August 17, 2005)
*Two Arubas (August 11, 2005)
*Kalpoe Confrontation (August 10, 2005)
*Suffering in Aruba (August 03, 2005)
*Aruba Bound (August 02, 2005)
*Natalee's Hometown (August 01, 2005)
*Holloway Search Goes High-Tech (July 28, 2005)
*Stalled Investigation? (July 24, 2005)
*Vacation Break? (July 21, 2005)
*Back to Aruba (July 14, 2005)
*Calls to Aruba (July 13, 2005)
*Missing in Paradise (July 05, 2005)
*Holloway Stalemate? (July 03, 2005)
*Hunt for Holloway (July 01, 2005)

There are other entries with titles that are probably Holloway-related (e.g., "Home Sweet Home" & "Heading Home") but there isn't a single one that addresses the "epidemic" of missing persons, or even names a different missing person in the title. Of the less than 40 blog entries over the past 2 months, 15 are directly related to the Holloway case (by title) & another 4 or 5 are probably related.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Van Susteren's obsessive coverage of Holloway). O/T comments -- especially glurge about Natalee Holloway -- will be deleted. Thanks. And thanks to News Hound Ellen, who has been reporting on this for months, for the data about rates by race.