In case you missed it, Fox News colleagues and 20-year friends Greta Van Susteren and Tucker Carlson have been going at it -- in front of the cameras. The cause: a decision by Carlson's website the Daily Caller to report some outrageously disgusting comments on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin made by ex-boxing great Mike Tyson.
Here's the Daily Caller story that launched the ruckus, with an editorial note added after the story ran. The actual recording of Tyson, made in an interview with the ESPN Las Vegas affiliate KWWN, is heard by scrolling a bit to the video screen at the bottom. Here's the Greta-Tucker smack down as seen by Fox viewers.
While putting this on camera invited the rest of us into this, and since we're big Greta fans in this corner -- she is one of today's peerless journalists who consistently is getting the story of the moment, getting it right and getting it in detail -- this is painful to say.
Greta Van Susteren is wrong. Mystifyingly so.
There is an unspoken elephant in the room here, so let's point it out.
The reason for the success of Fox News, along with talk radio and the rest of the "conservative" or "alternative" news media, is it's recognition that the so-called mainstream media regularly plays a biased game of protecting the liberal point of view -- and those who advocate same -- at all costs. The way the game works is to simply refuse to report the basic facts of a news story. Just pretend they don't exist. And by doing this shape the news events of the day.
I've discussed this before, but briefly, out of necessity here, I will highlight four different incidents past, not so past and relatively current to illustrate the point:
• The story of John F. Kennedy and his relationship -- while president -- with the sister-in-law of then-Newsweek Washington Bureau chief Ben Bradlee is discovered by Bradlee himself. A year after JFK's murder, Meyer had been murdered on a Georgetown tow path. In a search of her Georgetown studio Bradlee and his then wife, Meyer's sister, come upon a CIA agent who had broken in to the place. Eventually Bradlee learns why when he and his wife find a diary. In the diary is chapter and verse of Mary Meyer's relationship with JFK, replete with smoking marijuana in the White House. Bradlee reports nothing of this startling story involving his close friend the murdered president, his also murdered sister-in-law the president's mistress, and a detailed report of presidential drug use. Not so coincidentally this was in the fall of the 1964 Johnson-Goldwater presidential election, with JFK's brothers on Senate ballots in two states Only in 1976 -- a dozen years later -- does someone in the know leak to the National Enquirer. Bradlee confesses -- and writes in his memoirs -- that he "never for a minute considered" reporting the story and regrets that it finally got out. And yes, he says, every word of it was true.
• In 1998 Newsweek has the goods on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. And the editors spike the story. Unlike JFK's day, Matt Drudge and the Internet exist -- the story runs. All hell breaks loose, unleashing a presidential impeachment trial and multiple allegations of sexual harassment against the president, including one of rape from ex-Clinton supporter Juanita Broaddrick.
• In 2007, the National Enquirer runs a story saying that presidential candidate and ex-Senator John Edwards has a mistress. Once again the story goes untouched by the mainstream media until the Enquirer sensationally reveals that the mistress has had a child and catches Edwards in a midnight visit to a Los Angeles hotel. Eventually all comes out, the Senator's campaign, not to mention marriage, career and credibility are ruined. He is under indictment for misuse of campaign funds as this is written. But had it been up to the mainstream media, for all we know John Edwards could still be living a lie -- as a potential Obama Attorney General.
• In 2010 the National Enquirer -- again -- reports the existence of a four year-old police report in the hands of the Portland, Oregon police containing an allegation of sexual misconduct from a local masseuse. The target? Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore. It turns out the local Portland paper has had the story for three years and never ran it. Once out, the story explodes. Gore denies the charges, the case is eventually dropped. But for three years a 67-page police report -- news and hard fact all by itself -- sat in the dark with a media outlet's knowledge.
What does all of this have to do with Greta and Tucker? Plenty.
One reads the Daily Caller story of Mike Tyson's remarks about Sarah Palin -- and no, there was not any need for a later editorial note -- and it is a plain and simple recitation of a set of particularly vile facts. Carlson did absolutely the right thing in reporting the story. When a major retired sports figure -- a convicted rapist to boot -- makes such a vile and disgusting set of remarks about a prominent female politician -- this is news. It is even more so because Tyson's remarks, as one can plainly hear on the tape, are greeted with appalling laughter from the radio staff.
This is simply unacceptable behavior -- and it was quite public. It is news. No more, no less. Carlson is quite correct to say that were such a thing said about any female liberal -- Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama or Madeleine Albright -- this would have been on the front-page of the New York Times post-haste.
I'm a big fan of Governor Palin and haven't been shy about the fact. Ditto a lot of conservative women from Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to Laura Ingraham, Christine O'Donnell, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, to name some. They are constantly the target of the kind of garbage put forth by Mike Tyson -- whether its Newsweek covers on Palin and Bachmann or MSNBC's calling Ms. Ingraham -- a mother of two -- a "slut."
Based on media history, hiding the truth of what is said is never, ever a good idea.
It is mystifying to think that Greta Van Susteren, of all people, would essentially if unintentionally cast herself as a defender of the "let's hide the truth" ethic that is a staple of the mainstream media.
Surely this fever will pass. What happens between Greta and Tucker is their business. Sean Hannity has offered to mediate and no one could do better. But what happens to the idea that the truth must always be told -- in all its too frequent ugliness -- is everybody's business.
Snap out of it, Greta. Go interview Mike Tyson and the staff of that radio show and box their damn ears in.
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