After griping for weeks about how the mainstream media gives the Obama administration a free ride – and using words like “swooning” and “fawning” to describe the recent 60 Minutes interview with Hillary Clinton and President Obama - Greta Van Susteren’s interview with Clinton last night was surprisingly subdued. Van Susteren didn’t “fawn” on Clinton exactly, but neither did she press aggressively, call Clinton names or say she should be fired.
The outgoing Secretary of State appeared very poised and confident as she answered Van Susteren’s more challenging questions about her record. Can we be sure of Egypt, whom others in the Fox stable have called an enemy and an extremist? We don’t condone everything Egypt's leaders do, Clinton replied, but we’d rather work with them to keep even more extreme elements from getting control. “So we have to, you know, keep pushing forward, and yet call it like we see it when we think something is not appropriate …. We have a balancing act to do, as do the Egyptian people as to how [the country's fledgling democracy] is going to turn out.”
What about Iran, with its nuclear weapons and support of people like Hezbollah and the Syrian government? Right now the government is focusing on sanctions and containment but, given Iran’s activities, Van Susteren said delicately – “there is going to come a time when, you know, we're going to have to -- we might have to make a different decision.” We’ve always said all options are on the table, Clinton replied. But they’re sticking by the sanctions for now, trying to persuading others to join them, and she thinks it seems to be working.
Finally, Benghazi. Despite the furor Fox has been trying to whip up about it, Benghazi got less time in the interview than either Egypt or Iran, and Van Susteren’s most challenging question was: “In light of what's happened, can Americans now feel safe or satisfied that we are moving to secure all our consulates and embassies for our diplomats overseas?” Clinton replied that the State Department was embracing the accountability review board’s recommendations, even though “money is a factor. And ever since the Bush administration, our requests for security monies from Congress have not been met. So you've had to make priority decisions.” Yes, Benghazi is dangerous, she added. But the US has dangerous posts all over the world.
And that was that. On to the friendly-chat portion of the interview. Meanwhile over on Fox Nation, some posters are venting their disappointment - mostly at Clinton, but some is directed at Van Susteren as well:
There’s also the interesting sideswipe that Brit Hume took at Clinton on Monday, wherein he renewed his longtime animus and said she was essentially an unremarkable diplomat getting more praise than she deserved. You have to wonder whether his public humiliation by Bill Clinton in the 1990s is still in his mind today.
Given that the Fox News evening hosts haven’t had much of substance to discuss since they lost the election, it’s not surprising that Fox’s ratings are plummeting in the key demographics on which they depend. At a certain point, the Fox execs will be forced to take action to stop the fall. Given that Greta’s show has fallen the farthest (losing 38 percent of her viewership in a year), there is already speculation that Roger Ailes may change up the evening and put on newer and younger faces. Megyn Kelly has been discussed as a possible permanent replacement for this slot. We’ll have to see how soon Fox starts to make these changes. I’d give it another couple of months before you see anything real.
And Greta is getting the usual hammering on her blog because she didn’t go after Clinton with an axe.