Fox News host Greta Van Susteren devoted the opening segment of her prime-time program to covering Sarah Palin's yet-to-be released memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life -- about which she claimed “the entire country is buzzing” -- including making a pitch for Palin to appear on her program. But at no point during the segment did Van Susteren disclose to her viewers that her husband, John Coale, reportedly advised Palin following the 2008 presidential campaign and reportedly stated that he conceived of and created Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC.
Van Susteren: “The entire country is buzzing” about Palin's book, “we're campaigning to get her to appear here”
Van Susteren hyped Palin's memoir at the top of her show. Van Susteren hyped Palin's memoir throughout the first segment of her November 13 program, saying that the “entire country is buzzing” about the book and that “no one -- and we mean no one -- can stop talking about her.” She also asked, “What is it about this governor that's got everybody talking?”
Van Susteren criticized media who “pooh-poohed” Palin and are now giving her “the front and center.” During the segment, Van Susteren claimed:
So many journalists have sort of pooh-poohed her. She was made fun of on Saturday Night Live. Yet they can't get enough of her, putting her in newspapers, you know, The New York Times, The Washington Post. I mean, the -- it's, like, you know, it's sort of funny, like, if they're so indifferent to her, if they think she's just so off the radar screen, why are they themselves so willing to give her, you know, the front and center?
Van Susteren also criticized “the leaks in the last couple days of certain excerpts” of Palin's book, saying of the journalists involved, “Some don't keep their agreements on -- and some get books other ways.”
Van Susteren plugged Palin's book tour -- and tried to hop aboard. Van Susteren plugged her bid for an interview with Palin, saying, "[W]e hope that she's going to be here On the Record and we -- you know, we're campaigning to get her to appear here." She also noted the various interviews Palin will be giving to promote her memoir, including with Oprah Winfrey and Fox News' Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.
Palin booster Swift to Van Susteren: “No one's been fairer to her than you.” During the segment, Van Susteren interviewed former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, who served as “one of the leaders” of the McCain presidential campaign's Palin “Truth Squad.” In her role with the campaign, Swift falsely accused then-Sen. Barack Obama of making “disgraceful comments comparing our vice presidential nominee, Gov. Palin, to a pig” before backtracking on her assertion. After Van Susteren stated that she had been trying to book Palin for an interview, Swift said, “No one's been fairer to her than you.” Van Susteren replied, “Well, that's very sweet of you. I hope that both sides of the aisle -- we get Hillary Clinton here, too, as well. We get them on both sides of the aisle.”
But Van Susteren failed to disclose her husband's role advising Palin
Wash. Post's Cillizza: Coale among those “charged with guiding Palin's political image,” “suggested she start a leadership PAC.” In a post on his blog The Fix, headlined “The Protecters of the Palin Brand,” Chris Cillizza listed Coale as one of the “figures charged with guiding Palin's political image in Washington.” According to Cillizza, Coale told The Fix he “suggested she start a leadership PAC and helped her navigate through some of the questions surrounding her family that lingered after the campaign.” Cillizza added, “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.” SarahPAC is Palin's political action committee. [The Fix, 3/17/09]
NY Times: Coale reportedly said, “I started the PAC for [Palin] ... and helped start a legal defense fund for her.” From a May 24 New York Times article:
[Van Susteren's] critics have questioned her husband's advising of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and portrayed Ms. Van Susteren as a spokeswoman of sorts for the governor and the governor's husband, Todd.
Ms. Van Susteren has interviewed Ms. Palin three times, the first time during the candidate's vice presidential campaign last fall. The weekend after the election, Ms. Van Susteren and her husband, John Coale, met the Palins at their home in Alaska for a widely promoted interview. Viewers also saw her on a snowmobiling ride with Ms. Palin's husband.
While there, Mr. Coale, a prominent trial lawyer who helped lead the tobacco litigation of the 1990s, talked to Ms. Palin about her legal bills and advised her to start a political action committee. “I started the PAC for her over the next month or two, and helped start a legal defense fund for her. That's about it,” Mr. Coale said last week. “I never advised her on any politics or anything like that.”
Mr. Coale's assistance to Ms. Palin, first reported by The Washington Post in March, prompted questions about the couple's combination of journalistic and political work.
Many news organizations have policies that discourage or prohibit staff members from covering events to which their spouses are connected. Last week, the news Web site Politico said that Mr. Coale had also suggested to Ms. Palin that she forge an alliance with Hillary Rodham Clinton by using the PAC to help pay down Mrs. Clinton's campaign debts.
In an interview, Ms. Van Susteren defended her husband's work, calling him “almost a quintessential citizen” who had encouraged politicians to “reach across the aisle.” She said she had had only one private conversation with Ms. Palin. “I don't have a relationship with her,” she said. “It's not like people think it is.” [The New York Times, 5/24/09]
Politico: Coale a “Palin confidante.” According to Politico, Coale was “among [Palin's] political advisers.” Andy Barr and Jonathan Martin reported that it was Coale's “suggestion that Palin create a PAC to pay for travel and avoid ethics complaints in Alaska.” They also reported that Coale said, “I'm just a friend of hers. I'm not on her staff and I'm not paid,” and that at the time, he emailed with Palin “back and forth about once a week.” Politico further reported that Coale “became a Palin confidante as his wife, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, interviewed the former GOP vice presidential nominee and her family numerous times during and after the election.” [Politico, 3/30/09]
Van Susteren denied Politico report that Palin took advice from “Greta and her husband.” In their March 30 article, Barr and Martin quoted a “former Palin ally” who said Palin took “advice from Greta and her husband.” Politico media reporter Michael Calderone reported that Van Susteren “responded” to that claim on her blog, writing, “I am flattered someone would think people take advice from me but this is fanciful.” Calderone further reported that Van Susteren wrote: “I have never given Governor Palin advice - she does not need it from me. ... I don't even have her phone number or her e-mail address.” [Calderone's Politico blog, 3/29/09]