Best Laid Plans

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Dear Viewers,

Log on to our show page — — today if you want to see some video of the tsunami. We have streamed it on the show page so that you can see it on demand. I have watched it many times — each time I see it I am stunned by its power and violence.

Click here to find out how you can help victims of the tsunami.

Monday night's show was a bit of a challenge — especially in the planning. During the day we heard that Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) "might" give a news conference from Thailand during our 10 p.m. ET — "our" hour. We needed to plan around it so that we could bring the news conference to you live. There were some hurdles as you might guess: how long? What time? And — our favorite — were we SURE? We needed to plan other guests, other live shots from the region and not knowing how long the Powell news conference would be — or IF it would be — created a challenge.

We decided to lean heavily on "booking" our reporters and correspondents as guests since canceling them for a news conference — however long — is not the same as canceling, for instance, an ambassador who shows up to do our show. Our reporters and correspondents are used to live news — that's our business — and so it is not rude. We did not want to book all our people, but we leaned more heavily on it in last night's show so that we could have greater flexibility.

As luck would have it, about 9:20 p.m. ET, my line producer told me that the Powell news conference would NOT be live as we had planned. Fortunately, we were ready with correspondents all over the tsunami region. Then, a few minutes before 10 p.m., my line producer said, "Now we now are hearing the news conference is live." At this point, minutes before the start of the show, all I could say was, "Whatever ... let me know."

While we conducted our show, the line producer had to have eyes like a flounder — one eye on the side of his head watching our screen and "producing" and the other eye watching a monitor to see if and when the Powell news conference began. We wanted to take you to it IMMEDIATELY when it started.

Then, our luck began to fade. While we were in a commercial break, my line producer told me, "They are approaching the cameras" (which means the news conference was about to begin.) I thought, "Why does this have to start DURING a commercial?!" Ugh! I asked the line producer if we were going to "bust" the commercial and I could tell he was trying to think fast...and trying to make the right decision. Since the Thai foreign minister was the first to speak, and since we were seconds from ending the break, he opted to wait a few — very few — seconds. Our luck much improved since time flashed by and we were able to bring you to the news conference just as it was getting going.

Of course then came the question: How long do we stay in the news conference? Our rule is that we stay in the news conference as long as we believe news is occurring, but, of course, that is always a guess for all news organizations since none of us can predict the future. If we end, we can't be sure there is not a parting remark by someone that is news. We also don't want to remain for repetitive reporter questions. If we could predict the future, we would be in Vegas, and not at a news network!

By the way, if you want to see stunning pictures from South Asia, and our military relief effort, log onto the Navy's Web site — — and check out the 90 pictures they just posted. The pics will steal your breath.

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

Greetings! Greta;
I am a campus pastor; a native of Singapore. I wish to return early to Singapore so that I can volunteer to help the Tsunami survivors. I am a local trained disaster worker with the American Red Cross in Missouri.
About a month ago, I had purchased a round-trip ticket to Singapore from the Hotwire. It was a non-negotiable ticket. When I called the travel agency and the United Airlines; they insisted they can't help me to change the date of early departure instead of January 10, 2005 even I shared with them about my reason of requesting the change of date to travel Singapore; Hotwire's operator suggested that I could purchase a new ticket if I so desired to, and to forfeit my purchased ticket? I think it is a poor public relationship not trying to understand my plea to return early?
I won't mind to pay the extra to make up the price of the new ticket then to forfeit it.
Thank you for listening.
John Ang

E-mail No. 2

Dear Greta, I am an American living and working in China. It is very common for the foreign community here and in other areas of Asia, to go to Phuket, Penang and the Maldives for the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday. And of course local Asians flock there as well in much higher numbers than the foreign community. Many of us have reservations made weeks ago to go to these destinations. My husband and I for example have a reservation at the Holiday Inn in Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Adam Housley via TV has informed us the Holiday Inn has sustained damage, so I went to their Web site which says the hotel is now closed. We are still holding air tickets to Phuket. Knowing that the economy of these countries survive on the tourist dollars and that Chinese New Year is a huge holiday in that part of the world, I and many of my friends feel terrible pulling our reservations, yet it does not look like a place where tourists can safely go just a few weeks from now.
Although this may seem like a frivolous topic in the midst of this devastation, if everyone who normally goes to these areas for this holiday in early February stays away, what more devastation will that do to the economies?
Is there any chance that you can discuss this on your show and broadcast what the tourist powers of these areas suggest the people holding reservations do?
Thank you,
Valorie Stackpole

E-mail No. 3

Hi Greta:
I think you will find that the "t" in tsunami should be pronounced. It is not silent.
Joe Black

E-mail No. 4

I can't help but to respond to a comment Greta had to one of her guests tonight, Sun. 01/02 about 9:30 p.m. This was to the woman who has lost eight of her family members in the tsunami and is still looking for 12+ more.
After her brief interview of seemingly pointless questions she said to this woman, "Well if you need any help give us a call here at FOX." (Or something close to this, I don't have a tape to replay.)
To me, Greta sounded perfectly uncompassionate and disingenuous. Would anyone think this woman does NOT need help? Eight family members are dead, and 12 she has not been able to communicate with yet. What was Greta thinking when she said that anyway? If FOX and Greta were genuine then why wouldn't Greta simply make her an offer of some sort — you knew her story — she was your guest. FOX is in the communications business? Or simply say nothing. That would have sounded so much better than the hollow offer given.
YDS Olsen
Barrington, NH

E-mail No. 5 — from my colleague Laurie Dhue. I had written her asking what she did on New Year's Eve. She is in Israel working and here is her note:

Shalom and Happy New Year from the Holy Land... I rang in the New Year at the American Colony Hotel (where I'm staying) with other TV journalists, diplomats, members of the Palestinian business community, and families who happened to be in Jerusalem for the holidays.
Based on the people I spoke with, New Years' Eve was more festive than in years past. There is a greater sense of optimism these days — Palestinian elections are coming up in six days and people on both sides feel there is more of a chance for peace now than ever before. When midnight came around, everyone hugged and toasted to peace.
Despite being so far away from home, the evening was very nice. It's amazing how people absolutely let loose when they hear disco music or Madonna! One of the highlights was gettin' down with Mike (AKA Dancing Machine) Tobin, resplendent in his tuxedo, who was surrounded by beautiful women the whole night. He's heading to Iraq soon, so I think he was happy to boogie. I also caught up with a couple of former CNN colleagues, which was nice. Jerusalem is a tight-knit community, particularly among American and British journalists.
All the best in 2005. Take care!

E-mail No. 6

God was very tired of Greta and her "panel" harping on Scott Peterson. He had to do something. There was nothing on, so he had to make an earthquake and tidal wave. Finally, Greta had something else to talk about. Thank you, God.
Can't wait for Michael Jackson. By the time Greta and her panel are done we will know what brand of toilet paper he squeezes.
John E. Brach

E-mail No. 7 — from Dr. Baden. I sent an e-mail to him, too, asking what he did on New Year's eve:

Dear Greta,
My wife Linda and I have traditionally celebrated New Year's Eve quietly at home. It is a night we look forward to being together alone. However, this year our celebrating was sobered by the television images we watched of the tsunami's rising toll of death and disease. Linda beat me at Scrabble — as usual — with a seven-letter word right at midnight.
We hope that 2005 is a better year for everyone — everywhere.
Michael Baden

Finally, an e-mailing viewer has a bet with her husband about whether Jeanine Pirro is in the movie "The Day After Tomorrow." I posted that e-mail in the blog and the viewer then wrote me again —- (by the way, she sounds annoyed with me.)

E-mail No. 8

You never settled the bet. I can't imagine why you would publish this e-mail, then not answer the question.

Her original e-mail (from two days ago) that I posted is the following:

Hi Greta:
My husband is convinced that (Judge) Jeanine Pirro appeared in the movie, "The Day After Tomorrow". I said, "Uh, honey, I don't think Ms. Pirro was in the movie". But he's determined and said, "I'll bet you $100 she was in the movie." (OK ... well, I could use an extra $100.) But of course, your word will rule. Hope you can help "settle the bet".
Go Greta! We really enjoy your show. Appreciate your time.
Paula Whisenant

ANSWER: I wrote Paula back after this second e-mail from her and said the REASON I posted the email on the blog was to GET her the answer and I have done that. Read on — another viewer e-mailed us and answered the question:

E-mail No. 9

Hi Greta,
I wanted to respond to the email about Jeanine Pirro being in the movie "The Day After Tomorrow." I have attached a link and find no mention of her name in the full credit list, so your writer wins her $100!

E-mail No. 10

I never thought I would be able to praise Bill Clinton — but he just proved me wrong. Thank you, Bill Clinton, for coming to the aid of the tsunami victims in assisting George Bush in OUR country's support of these victims!
Cincinnati, OH

E-mail No. 11

Greta, I am pleased to report that I was recently "stuck " in a doctors office that had your show blaring and there was no way to avoid watching it. For the first minute or so I twitched and turned to look for a way to change the channel, but after surrendering all hope of reaching the television, I decided to give you a "fair and balanced" look. I found the show to be concise and entertaining. In fact, was so amused that I have tuned in daily for nearly a month! What a pleasant surprise! By the way, I have even started to TiVo your show. Thanks again and keep up the good work!
Hennig Roth

ANSWER: First, I am curious what time zone you are in that our show is on while you are at the doctor's office. Second, I am delighted you gave us a chance. Third, we have the best staff in TV and they get credit for the show!


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