Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Greta Van Susteren’s new gig: volunteering at Voice of America

Callum Borchers, Washington Post; via JM on FB (many thanks!); original article contain links/a video

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Greta Van Susteren is back on TV, but not in the United States. Not exactly, anyway.

The former cable news host recently signed on as a contributor to Voice of America, the government-funded news outlet that is based in Washington, but covers U.S. affairs for foreign audiences. You won't find Van Susteren while channel surfing, but viewers in about 100 other countries can now see her on the air.

In her debut last week, Van Susteren interviewed Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) about the Iran nuclear deal.

How can Voice of America afford a high-profile journalist who previously commanded a seven-figure salary? In an internal email sent Sunday and obtained by The Fix, Voice of America Director Amanda Bennett told the staff that Van Susteren is donating her time:

Friends — As many of you have noticed, we ran an interview this past Friday with Sen. Lindsay Graham, conducted by Greta Van Susteren. You will remember her from her long career at CNN, Fox and MSNBC.

After leaving MSNBC recently, she came to us and offered to work with us on a pro bono basis (and yes, no matter what you have heard in the past, there is a legal way to volunteer for the federal government — we worked out the details in consultation with the offices of the general counsel and contracts.) Her reason: Her passion for foreign affairs and for the kind of straightforward, objective, fact-based news that we offer.

A Voice of America spokeswoman told The Fix “we are extremely fortunate that a journalist of Ms. Van Susteren’s caliber, experience, and wide-ranging interests finds our mission so critical that she is willing to work with us on a pro bono basis. She will be doing interviews from time to time with a wide variety of people.”

Van Susteren said she “will do it as long as it is beneficial to VOA. I have traveled the world — from Myanmar to North Korea to Sudan to Iraq to Afghanistan and more — and I hope my many years of journalism and experience adds to VOA. I am very impressed with the journalism at VOA.”

Van Susteren has a long record of international volunteerism, most prominently through Samaritan's Purse, the Christian nonprofit led by Franklin Graham. An orphanage and school in Haiti bears Van Susteren's name.

Bennett told The Fix in July that Voice of America is committed to independent journalism and said she has felt no pressure to provide soft coverage of the Trump administration, despite President Trump's frequent complaints about the media. Trump has the authority to appoint a new chief executive of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency that oversees Voice of America, but has not done so.

CNN's Hadas Gold has reported that Trump is likely to nominate Michael Pack, who recently stepped down as president of the conservative Claremont Institute, as chief executive of BBG. Pack previously served as vice president for television programming at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and worked with Breitbart News chairman Stephen K. Bannon on two documentaries.

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