Yahoo News questioned why Fox News' Greta Van Susteren didn't disclose in her Nov. 29 segment on Herman Cain that her husband is an adviser to Cain, the scandal-ridden Republican presidential candidate..
As ABC News reported Nov. 29, Van Susteren's husband, John Coale, "is friends with Herman Cain and now informally advising" him. He is an unpaid adviser.
Van Susteren did disclose the relationship in a blog post and argued that there is no "ethical issue" since Coale is an unpaid adviser, Yahoo News noted . In Van Susteren's Nov. 30 post on GretaWire.com (see here), she added that her husband has numerous friends in politics, including former president Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Michele Bachmann and John Kerry. She noted that "outside of work, I know these people too."
And yet, she ramps up her response with the following defensive revelation, "My husband has never worked for any of them nor taken a dime from any of them. He is not a lobbyist (never has been) and he is not looking for a job. These are simply his friends . . . people he finds interesting. As friends, he gives them advice, and they give him advice . . . he tells them things and they tell him things," she wrote. "My critics will assume something sinister and so be it. You listen to my questions and watch my interviews and you tell me whether you think they are fair or not. You tell me whether you get information from the guests or not."
As Shakespeare put it, Greta doth protest too much. No one accused her husband of being a lobbyist or "looking for a job". The critics are simply asking her to disclose this relationship, iMediaEthics notes.
Mediaite responded to Van Susteren's suggestion that the friendship is just a byproduct of living in D.C.
"Given the cozy relationship many in the D.C. media have with politicians, it’s not that abnormal for two sets of career professionals to overlap. But when they do overlap, it is incumbent upon anyone who expects to be treated as a respected journalist to disclose relationships that would call to question one’s coverage and analysis."
According to Yahoo News, Fox News' executive vice president of programming Bill Shine said her blogged disclosure "was sufficient." Yahoo News, however, noted the disparity between her high viewership on air (where she made no disclosure) and her "small" online traffic (where she did disclose).
The New York Times noted that Van Susteren had an exclusive interview with Cain's wife Gloria Cain two weeks ago and that interview was "a huge coup for Fox News."
According to the Times, Van Susteren "would not comment on the record on Wednesday about whether she had ever disclosed to Fox executives her husband’s friendship with Mr. Cain. And she did not answer another question, posed to her in an e-mail from The New York Times, about whether anyone at Fox News had pressed her to mention the friendship on her 10 p.m. Fox News Channel program." Further, the Times reported that her husband, Coale, reportedly contacted the Times and said he "didn't advise" Cain and that their friendship is "just dinner and informal talk."
We have written to Van Susteren's show, "On the Record," to see if she has any further comment. We will update with any response.