I just got a tip and I need your help to verify it.
I was going to let my battle with the Madison, Wisconsin newspaper (Capital Times) go after failing to get a simple apology. Like I’ve said, I have made mistakes, too. I was going to let the matter go because I had begun to almost feel sorry for them for attacking my new book, My Turn at the Bully Pulpit, and admitting in that editorial that they did not read it first before attacking the book. As teenagers say, "Da..."
The paper began to seem pathetic because the editorial page did not have the courage -- and the decency -- to simply say, "we were wrong and we are sorry." I have repeatedly said that I don't care if you trash my new book after reading the book -- just not beforereading it.
As you all know, I have urged you to call Judy Ettenhofer of the editorial page or e-mail her asking her to do the right thing. Many of you have -- and I thank you for trying, to get her to do the right thing. Before I enlisted the help of you viewers, I called Judy myself and asked her if she wrote it (it appeared "under her watch.") She said, "No." I asked, "Who did?" I wanted to talk that person. She said, "I won't tell you." It is hard for me to get to the bottom of this if the paper is not candid with me.
Well, I just got an unsolicited tip from another journalist. I am not sure it is true. And once again, I need your help to find out.
I was just tipped off that Judy is "covering" for the editor-in-chief of the paper: David Zweifel. I don’t know if this is true. I was told that he is hung up on the Wisconsin election in 1946 (yes, 57 years ago) in which Sen. Joe McCarthy was elected. Fifty-seven years ago (eight years before I was born), my father was very much involved in that campaign and David somehow wants to criticize me for this election.
If David -- or anyone at the paper -- had actually read the book, they would have read the words -- mine -- that Joe McCarthy was wrong. What is so stunning, is that the editorial was a McCarthy type attack on me! No facts, just attack. One other "interesting" fact: Sen. McCarthy died when I was two years, 10 months old. So, I think it is pretty safe to say I was not instrumental in his election to the Senate.
Incidentally, the tip I received also said that the paper is internally justifying this editorial about my book prior to reading it as follows: the editorial was written when the book was "not quite out.” Again, I don't know if this is true -- that this is the internal justification for the sloppy and mean work. But, regardless, we know this and it is the truth: the editorial was printed on Saturday, August 30 and my book came out four days earlier on August 26. They could easily have gotten the book and read it first. Second, if the paper had called me, I would have been delighted to send them a galley of the book weeks earlier. I am proud of the book.
So, here is what I need you to do: contact David Zweifel, editor-in-chief of the Capital Times. His number is 608 252-6410. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ask him:
• If he is the author of the editorial about my book -- and let me know if he is!
• Why did he write the editorial before reading the book?
• Why is he letting Judy "take the heat," if he wrote it?
• When will he simply say, "we goofed."
Please also tell him that if he apologizes, I will gladly accept it (I have made mistakes, too) and I will also send him an autographed copy of the book. I think he will actually like the book if he reads it. And one other thing, tell him to drop the McCarthy type attacks on others. It makes the paper look as bad as McCarthy.
I would not solicit your help -- but I would like to get to the bottom of this and the newspaper just won't tell me who wrote it. I really need your help. It will only take a few seconds.
As I prepare to judge this year’s Miss America Contest, I first received an offer of maple syrup for my vote for Miss Vermont. Then cheese and brats for a vote for Miss Wisconsin. Then Omaha steaks for a vote for Miss Nebraska!
Now, I am hearing from other state supporters. Here are two e-mails (one from California and the other from Alabama):
“Sounds like Pageant Week may get a little hectic so how about some of our famous California wine to sip while you contemplate your vote! Just name your price -- uh, I mean preference -- and I'll be sure you get a few bottles of your favorite! On second thought, if Miss California wins, the runners-up will launch a re-call on the grounds that surely you judges didn't intend to vote for her.”
“Hi Greta!... need some good old fashioned Alabama barbecue? Of course I'm kidding too. But I do have one REAL question for you. Are you planning any book signing tours? Thanks from a faithful watcher!”
All this is getting quite fun. I am anxious to see if I am offered a new Ford from Michigan before I make any decisions!
All kidding aside, On The Record goes on the road next week as we head off to Atlantic City. I intend to write a GretaWire each day talking about the activities (incidentally, the day starts before 8 a.m. Maybe I should have looked carefully at the schedule before I jumped at the chance to judge the Miss America contest!) I will have limitation on what I can write daily because the process is really like a jury deliberation. But I am sure there will be plenty of "behind the scenes" that I can share with you! To give you an idea how careful the pageant is about doing this fairly, the other day I was required to sign a paper affirmatively stating I have no "conflict of interest."
On a serious note, many of you wrote me about Wednesday night’s interview with Bret Baier, our Pentagon correspondent who just returned from a tour of Iraq and Afghanistan with Secretary Rumsfeld. After the segment, Bret and I talked and both lamented how much we wish that we could actually bring the viewers to Iraq and Afghanistan. As great as TV is at giving all of us an idea of what Iraq and Afghanistan is like, there is “nothing” like actually going there and seeing it with your own eyes. Bret could not stop telling me what an eye opener it is to actually go there and get a first hand experience. I guess we are all lucky that we have good reporters like Bret to come back and tell us.
Well... the offers keep rolling in via e-mail concerning the upcoming Miss America pageant. I have thus far been offered maple syrup for a vote for Miss Vermont, and cheese and brats for a vote for Miss Wisconsin. Here is the latest viewer's e-mail "offer" for my vote for Miss Nebraska as the next Miss America:
“Here's one [offer for my vote for Miss Nebraska] from one of the other 48 states - I will send you Omaha steaks if you vote for Ms. Nebraska. (I will double that order if you ditch Jayne from your legal panel.)”
By the way, "Jayne" in the viewer e-mail is no doubt Jayne Weintraub of our legal panel. I am sure she would "enjoy" the ribbing. While she is a strong defense attorney, I assure you she has a great sense of humor. If I opted for this "offer," I fear Jayne would ask for her "cut" and I would have to fork over one of those Omaha steaks!
Watch On the Record with Greta Van Susteren weeknights at 10 p.m. ET