During the presidential campaign, Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren had perhaps the best access to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin of any journalist. In September, she hosted a one-hour “documentary” on the GOP vice presidential candidate, titled “Governor Sarah Palin — An American Woman.” She also scored an exclusive interview with Todd Palin, in which she grilled him “on everything from the story behind the name ‘First Dude’ to how he feels about the name ‘First Dude.’”
After the election ended, Palin chose Van Susteren for her first national television interview. Since then, Greta has consistently covered Palin, keeping an eye out for any potential slights to the governor and gushing over her popularity.
Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza revealed one of the reasons that Van Susteren may have so much interest in and access to Palin. It turns out that her husband, John Coale, is one of “the figures charged with guiding Palin’s political image in Washington”:
Coale, a well-known Washington lawyer and the husband of Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren, drew national media attention when he endorsed Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid in protest of the way in which Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who he backed in the primary, was treated. Coale, in an interview with the Fix, described himself simply as a “friend” of the Alaska governor but acknowledged that he suggested she start a leadership PAC and helped her navigate through some of the questions surrounding her family that lingered after the campaign. Others familiar with Palin’s political team insist that Coale has far more power than he is letting on — essentially helping to run Sarah PAC. Coale demurred on that front, noting only that he talks to Palin regularly and that she is a “fascinating person” who is “definitely not what the right thinks or the left thinks.”
According to a Nexis search, starting on the day that Sarah Pac was announced, Van Susteren has never disclosed her husband’s behind-the-scenes role on air. Here is how she reported the announcement of Sarah Pac:
VAN SUSTEREN: Does Governor Sarah Palin have her eye on a presidential run in 2012? There’s one more clue tonight. The Alaskan governor has her own political action committee up and running–www.sarahpact.com went up on the web this morning.
Governor Palin says the pact is dedicated to building America’s future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation. [Fox News, 1/27/09]
Ironically, just last week, Van Susteren decried people thinking she’s “so close to the Palin family.” “The only way that I’ve met them is by interviewing them,” she said, never mentioning her husband’s relationship to Palin. Watch it:
On her show last night, Van Susteren dedicated an entire segment to criticizing David Letterman for making a joke about Palin and her family.