For some, Greta Van Susteren harkens back to vivid images of the mid 1990s when all eyes were peeled to the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Van Susteren, a former criminal defense and civil trial lawyer, appeared regularly on CNN and helped make sense of the complexities of the trial. She spent eight years at CNN. Then in 2002 she moved over to Fox News where she has been ever since hosting “On the Record” in the 10 p.m. time slot. She isn’t afraid of a good tussle – in January 2011, she blasted a launch party thrown by Tina Brown for Piers Morgan. “It is so different over here at Fox than CNN,” she wrote on her Gretawire blog. I can’t imagine Fox News Channel or a friend of Fox News Channel having some fancy “launch party” at a fancy NYC upper east side address with a bunch of celebrities for a new cable news show. It seems so out of touch with the rest of the country, doesn’t it?” Today Greta celebrates 10 years at the network. We caught up with her this weekend and asked her to reflect on the last decade of her life.
Congratulations to her on this momentous occasion.
1. When you look back at the past decade, do you feel sentimental about it? I don’t feel sentimental, I feel extremely lucky! I have had a ring side seat to every major news story in the last ten years. I have had the thrill to travel the world for Fox News Channel – Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Korea, Haiti, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE, Egypt, Aruba, Peru, Uruguay, and Honduras. I have been all over the USA, too, and who can forget sleeping on a bus during Katrina with all my Fox colleagues? I have had the chance to interview so many fascinating people (Presidents, world leaders, Cabinet members, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, General Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto) that I can’t help but feel lucky…very lucky. I have flown with the Thunderbirds, the Blue Angels and even chased the F/A 22 in an F-16. I have been on a helicopter in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world. I have also been lucky to interview those in the entertainment world: Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Ron Howard, William Shatner, Katharine McPhee, the Backstreet Boys, B.B. King, Winona and Naomi Judd, Shakira, Josh Groban, Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, and Kim Kardashian. I have also interviewed many many athletes: Brett Favre, Joe Theismann, Joe Namath, Cal Ripken, Jr., Bart Starr, Tony Dungy, Michael Vick, Mike Tyson, Bob and Mike Bryan, Joe Montana, and Manny Pacquiao. Having read the foregoing list, and that is just a sample, can you understand why I feel so lucky?
I am grateful to Fox because Fox has spent a fortune over the past 10 years making sure I can do real reporting. It is very, very, very expensive to send anchors and correspondents into the field and I know that news organizations have had to cut back. But Fox never has said no to me. There is a giant difference between getting your news, reading the internet and THEN hosting or anchoring, and actually going into the field and seeing it yourself.
2. Anniversaries are typically times of reflection. What are you thinking about it all? I don’t reflect very much. I really don’t have the time to reflect. I am just excited about the next story whatever that may be. Each time I do a story I wonder, can there possibly be another as fascinating? So far, the answer is yes.
3. What are your tried and true interview techniques? First, work at a network that supports you. That makes a HUGE difference. Fox has done that for me over and over and over again. Second, as to specific technique, I learned the trick from Larry King: be curious. Interviews, as Larry taught me, are not about me — they are about the guests and the topic. Viewers tune in for the news, not to see the set or the anchor. It sure worked for Larry and it is working for me. I have been a cable news anchor since Oct. 1995.
4. What was your most memorable work trip of the last decade? I confess, I do find my trips to North Korea fascinating. It is stepping into a whole different world, different from any other place in the world. I am headed back to North Korea in a few months for my fourth trip. Each time I have gone, I have seen more, and received greater access by the North Koreans. I have met some of the North Korean hierarchy and I have also met workers in the field. (And of course, my trips with Sec. of State Hillary Clinton to Pakistan, India, Afghanistan have been a thrill…as well as the trip all over the Middle East with then-First Lady Laura Bush.)
5. What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead? What do you most want to accomplish? I don’t know….my eyes are wide open! Each new story is addictive.