Greta Van Susteren conducted a rather interesting interview with fired New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson last night. They covered a lot of substantive issues. However, Fox could not resist making a little anti-Obama political hay out of the interview and just happened to have at the ready an anti-Obama video that Van Susteren played before Abramson was asked a single question. Oh, and check out Van Susteren’s complaints about the use of “people say.”
Van Susteren introduced the interview by promising that Abramson would tell us about “her controversial firing.” But first, Van Susteren said, “While working at the New York Times and after decades of covering presidential administrations, Abramson calling President Obama’s White House the most secretive White House that she’s ever covered. And she’s not the only one."
Then came a 30-second video designed to drive the point home.
Let me pause here to say that I share Abramson’s and other journalists’ concerns about the press’ complaints about lack of information and transparency as well as the Obama administration’s hostility to the press. However, the video and Van Susteren’s first questions made it clear that she was deliberately using the interview to throw criticism on President Obama:
VAN SUSTEREN: I want to talk to you about the whole issue of President Obama and transparency.
Abramson did not pull any punches. But it was she who made a point of noting that the Obama administration has “done some things that weigh on the side of transparency.” But Van Susteren didn’t seem to take much interest.
To her credit, Van Susteren got to a lot of questions that were not about Obama and she probed the issue of a paper having to weigh national security concerns vs. reporting and news interests. But that came later, once she got the prerequisite Obama-bashing in.
I recommend the interview, especially if you’re interested in what Abramson has to say about her firing, about covering the Obama administration and the James Risin case. Oh, and do cite this the next time someone accuses the Times of cheerleading the Obama administration.
But also check out Van Susteren’s complaint in Part 2, about the use of anonymous sources in articles of Abramson's management style:
VAN SUSTEREN: I tell you what I thought was troubling in reading some of the stories. I mean, there were descriptions of you – I don’t know whether they were fair or not but they weren’t named. It was like, you know, ‘People say.’ …It used to be, I think, that if someone had something to say, you identified the person and I don’t know if this is in the internet age or whatever but all these, sort of, ‘people say’ or ‘senior officials of the administration,’ whatever, we don’t identify them. …It is troubling.
Agreed. As Abramson pointed out you don’t know how “to assign credibility” (or not) to an anonymous source. She also said that it can be hard to get people to talk to you otherwise.
It was a point that Outfoxed noted in 2004 - when Van Susteren was already working at Fox News. Check out that video below, underneath the two interview segments with Abramson.
“Jill Abramson was forced out as ed of ny times because she had the guts to call out the WH for its lack of transparency. A crime at NYT”
Abramson mentioned at the end of the interview that she has known Greta for a long time. Three days after her husband’s tweet, Van Susteren took to her blog to bash the NYT for using anonymous sources to predict why Abramson was fired. I believe she called the sources cowards or wimps. I wonder if her husband’s tweet was just an opinion?? My guess is that it was planted because Abramson was upset over the article. This is just my guess!!
Abramson shot down Katie Couric when she tried to get her to talk about what was written (argument with Dean Baquet). She got pretty testy with Couric for bringing it up, but you can notice in Greta’s interview that she was sympathetic to her comment about the use of anonymous sources when Greta brought up the controversial comments that were written.
I, too, agree with Ellen’s comment on WH transparency and hostility involving the press.