On Saturday, Politico’s Carol E. Lee wrote a blog post describing her failed attempt to interview “first dude” Todd Palin at Tammy Haddad’s brunch before the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. “Todd Palin was being led around the brunch by Fox’s Greta Van Susteren, who is apparently his host AND handler,” wrote Lee.
According to Lee, Van Susteren “intervened” when she “started to chat” with Palin, telling the reporter that the brunch was “off the record.” Writing on her blog the next day, Van Susteren expressed her outrage at being described as Palin’s “handler,” claiming that she was just showing “good manners” by stepping in when Palin was “ambushed by a surprise interview”:
A Politico reporter came up to our Fox guest Todd Palin with a pad to take notes and interview Todd Palin (it says “started to chat” but that is not what happened or what was going on….no one is that stupid to believe that.) It was an attempt to interview him when he did not agree to it or ask for it — print paparazzi at a brunch /party!
If Todd Palin had said something about coming there for a social event (instead of me), you know what would have happened — he would have been trashed….which would have been unfair. The reporter may have been working — but he was not. He was at a social event and not looking to be ambushed by a surprise interview.
At Media Matters’ County Fair blog, Jamison Foser notes the irony of Van Susteren’s complaints about “surprise” ambush interviews, considering that she works at Fox News, the home of the O’Reilly Harrassment Machine. “If Fox reporters are going to complain about people being “ambushed by a surprise interview,” they might want to denounce Bill O’Reilly first. Otherwise, they look like frauds,” writes Foser.
Though Van Susteren doesn’t send her producers to harass people who disagree with her like O’Reilly does, she has promoted Fox’s ambush journalism on her show. For instance, on the Oct. 30, 2008 edition of On The Record, Van Susteren aired footage of Fox reporter Griff Jenkins ambushing Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi and following him into an elevator. Watch that ambush interview: