Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

Ignoring violence breaking out at Democratic Town Halls, Greta Van Susteren Ratchets Up The Hostilities

Reported by Ellen - August 7, 2009 -

"Liberal” Greta Van Susteren offered nothing last night (8/6/09) in the way of balance to the steady drumbeat of hostility toward Democrats that is the nightly (and daily) fare on Fox News. Instead, she did her part to ramp it up. Ignoring the ugly behavior at Democratic town halls that have led to violence and police action, Van Susteren made a deliberate effort to put the protestors in a positive light and the Democrats in a negative one. With video.

Van Susteren began a segment with Dick Morris by acknowledging that the health care battle is “red hot” and played a clip of someone yelling during a town hall meeting.

“Just come into Fox tonight!” Van Susteren exclaimed enthusiastically. “Brand new video of a forum on health care getting very fiery in Florida… Congresswoman Kathy Castor got an earful from voters.”

Van Susteren forgot to mention to the “We report, you decide” network’s viewers that crowds had been banging on the windows, fistfights broke out and the police had to be called. Instead, Van Susteren showed video of protesters shouting and clapping, “Read the bill,” as if all were peaceful and exuberant.

Van Susteren continued, with hammy distaste, “President Obama press secretary insists protesters like those are not a grassroots movement, just Astroturf.”

Try as she might to minimize that viewpoint, Van Susteren can’t change the truth: it’s not just President Obama’s press secretary who thinks the protesters are not just a spontaneous outpouring. It has been PROVEN that the GOP, Fox News and their own Glenn Beck, and rightwing groups are making an orchestrated effort to disrupt town halls. As Van Susteren later acknowledged, the DNC has a new ad underscoring the same point.

After skipping over that inconvenient-to-Republicans truth, Van Susteren upped the ante with the phony “Obama wants to stifle free speech” talking point. The big difference between “liberal” Van Susteren’s use of this spin and Hannity’s of the night before was that Van Susteren put it in the form of a question, instead of an outright accusation.

Moving right along, Van Susteren said, “All this heat has apparently taken a toll on the president’s poll numbers.” She cited a new Quinnipiac poll that put the president’s approval rating for health care at 39%. Once again Van Susteren forgot some rather relevant information: The same poll found American voters still see Obama as better able to handle the economy and health care than Republicans in Congress.

Then it was time for guest Dick Morris. “What do you make of this backlash on these town hall meetings?” Van Susteren began.

“Oh, I love it. I love it,” Morris said. “That is so great that they’re doing that and it’s so crucial.” Doesn’t that sort of validate the DNC’s point? Van Susteren didn’t seem to notice.

Van Susteren did not challenge Morris when he put forth the falsehood that Obama had said he wants a single-payer system but that it just can’t be passed right away. “It’s his goal. That’s what he wants,” Morris falsely asserted. See Media Matters’ post debunking this talking point.

“I guess the thing that’s sort of distressing to me,” Van Susteren finally responded, “is that these people – they’re voters, they’re upset because they don’t understand… and they’re simply questioning their government, their representatives and then they’re being insulted by the White House and even asking for emails as to who they… might be.”

Wow, that’s a lot of conservative spin in one paragraph from a “liberal.” First of all those voters who are “simply questioning their government” are deliberately disrupting their representatives and creating a climate that encourages violence. And they are part of a large, orchestrated effort that Morris had just taken part in, here and elsewhere on Fox. Van Susteren is either deaf and blind to what’s going on at Fox or she doesn’t care that she’s engaging in the kinds of distortions that would make Sean Hannity glow with pride.

Secondly, Van Susteren had just played a clip of Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs telling Fox News’ Major Garrett that the White House is not collecting emails for the sake of gathering information on senders but to combat misinformation. If Van Susteren had information to the contrary, she should have shared it with her viewers.

“This is insulting!” Van Susteren said, thus explicitly attacking the Obama administration along with her guest. Where was the balance? I didn’t see any guests speaking on behalf of the administration on the show.

Predictably, Morris, piled on the attacks and just as predictably, Van Susteren either listened silently or agreed with him. “This program of the administration’s, is the repeal of Medicare.” He made the dubious claim that the bill sets up a commission to make automatic cuts in Medicare. Van Susteren did not question the claim.

“And then on top of that, they’re expanding coverage for 50 million people with no extra doctors. That means rationing.” In other words, Morris would prefer that 50 million people would go without health insurance. "Liberal" Van Susteren didn't think that noteworthy either.

Before long, Morris was hyping his website where “I have information about how you can help run advertisements in each of the districts of these swing senators that are aimed at the elderly… The key thing is to get the elderly to speak up for their medical care… This is a matter of life and death.” Does this not also further validate the DNC’s claim? Once again Van Susteren didn’t seem to notice.

She started to refer to the protestors as “protestors,” then caught herself and said, “Really, they’re sort of passionate voters.”

As Morris joked that the “protestors” are former protesters from the 60’s, Van Susteren said she thought some of the former 60’s protesters are now pro-Obama. She snidely added, “Suddenly, they’re not quite as enamored with the First Amendment when the shots are fired at them.”

The levity ended with Morris making a lengthy plea for viewers to write their representatives. “Drown ‘em,” Morris urged.