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I hope you watched last night's show: an entire hour with Steve Centanni, his brother, Olaf Wiig, his wife and Jennifer Griffin. I enjoyed doing the interview — in fact, I was thrilled to do it. It is not often that I get to do a very important story, a story that is very personal to all of us and which has a good ending!
My job was essentially to say "go" and then they told the riveting story of the kidnapping and the efforts to free them. I had no heavy lifting in this show. I did find a huge challenge: How do you condense 13 days each with a 24 harrowing hours into a one-hour show with commercials? At the end of the show I felt disappointed that you did not hear more — there is so much more to this story.
There were some things I wanted you to hear that we never got to, i.e. all the help other news organizations gave us or offered us. They deserve a "shout out." While news organizations compete for readers or viewers, this was a time when the rules changed: The goal was a unified one to free two journalists. It was much appreciated.
FOX management deserves a "shout out." They went without sleep, left no rock unturned to get Steve and Olaf free, which sent a huge message to all of us who work at FOX — not that we doubted FOX management's commitment to us.
I had never met Olaf before last night, but Olaf told me that he has been the cameraman for our show many, many, many times. We often do "live shots" from the Middle East and of course we see the correspondent, but never the cameraman. He teased me that our show airs in the Middle East as the sun rises which creates lighting problems for him. In a 4-minute "hit," the lighting can change because of the sun, making his job a bit of a challenge.
Both journalists wanted to get the message out in our show that the work of getting the news out in the Middle East, while sometimes dangerous, is an important one. They regret that many news organizations have pulled back or pulled out because of their kidnapping. They understand why news organizations have done this: They don't want their journalists at risk, but it is still regrettable. The job of reporting from the Middle East is very important.
By the way, how about Jennifer Griffin and her Jerusalem bureau chief? They are tough and determined! They are also very smart, but you know that if you have watched their work. That is obvious.
With all the trouble in the Middle East, I have gotten to know Jennifer Griffin. I can't say enough good things about her and her work as a journalist. She is truly amazing. She is one of those people who when I walk past a television and hear her talking, no matter what I am doing, what time it is, whether it is a day off or not, I always stop. I always learn something from her.
I sat on the sidelines on this one — safely in my studio and not in Gaza — and watched and, of course, worried, but having seen the efforts and the product of my colleagues in this crisis has made me enormously proud to be a colleague.
After I walked out of the studio, I discovered a very crowded greenroom. Steve Centanni comes from a huge family and they were in the greenroom. Jennifer Griffin was talking to them so I joined in. There were lots of laughs and I can't help but thinking how close we came to having a scene of lots of tears.
I have posted some pics today from New Orleans one year later. As you may know, we aired the show from New Orleans Monday night (NYC last night because we went to NYC to interview Steve and Olaf).
Because we were in New Orleans on Monday, I got a chance earlier in the afternoon to return to some of the hardest hit areas and take some pics. I wanted you to see what it is like one year later. We shot some video and you might see it tonight in our show (my producer makes that decision).
Some of the pics posted are from our makeshift New Orleans bureau (in a hotel.) Across the hall from our "bureau" is the ABC "bureau."
And today? What else: the airport. I'm headed to D.C. (at least that is what I think as I write this blog....)
Now for some e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
Your show last night with Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig was fascinating. I do wish that there would have been more time to talk with Jennifer Griffin. Her story about meeting with the Palestinian group leaders late at night was vivid and mesmerizing. It would be great if you could find more time to talk with all of them before they leave New York.
ANSWER: Ed, you are not alone, many wrote me asking to hear more from Jennifer. I found it very difficult to tell 13 days in one hour....
E-mail No. 2
That was the most riveting show I think you've ever done. I wish you had had two hours. When I heard about the kidnapping I started praying and have continued praying for them. Their story is amazing. Thank God they got out, and thank God for Anita and Jennifer. Please do more on this story. Obviously, there was a lot you didn't get to. My heart was broken when I heard they were forced to renounce their faith and swear to Islam. I hope they get a book out ASAP. Their story should be a real eye opener to those who think the terrorists will leave us alone if we get out of the Middle East. Obviously, that is not the case. Please, Greta, pass on my blessing to Steve, Olaf, Anita and Jennifer and let them know they are being prayed for in California.
E-mail No. 3
The interview was fantastic. The only thing it was lacking was it was way too short. Please do another hour or two.
Chester Springs, PA
ANSWER: As noted above, I agree. One hour was too short. But I should tell you, that is a huge amount of time in television.
E-mail No. 4
FANTASTIC show tonight. I'm so glad you devoted the whole show to the story of Steve and Olaf. It was very interesting to those of us who had no clue of the story behind the story!
Greta, I really enjoy the way you interview people. It's no wonder FOX selected you for the exclusive interview. And, I was amazed at Jennifer Griffin's part of the story. I would have been scared to death in that alley as well as being in Gaza with an Israeli while trying to negotiate. There would not have been enough bodyguards in the world to get me into that alley! She sure has a lot of heart!
I wanted to weigh in on this because I'm sure there will be others who differ with my opinion with so much other news today. However, I think it was a great call to spend the amount of time you did tonight on this story.
E-mail No. 5
I heard you on "FOX & Friends" talking about being nervous about this interview. You were outstanding, and I must say, beaming at these guys, showing what I bet, all of FOX's folks are doing at having your friends back. Great interview — one that needs to be shown again, maybe as one of the Sat. or Sun. night special. (And believe me, I'm tired of Katrina... sorry for the LA folks, but enough is enough)
Most folks I know, were following every item we could find on your guys. And Jennifer Griffin, has always been a favorite. Her reporting has been the best from that area. And how great to see her in your studio, with your guys.
Her description of what she did, in the rescue of these guys, was breathtaking. Please let her know she brought tears to the eyes as she talked of all she had done for these guys, and their families. An incredible person.
You weren't nervous... just got the best out of all the folks you interviewed. Job well done!
A Texas fan
ANSWER: I was smart enough to say almost nothing and let my guests do it all — that is why the hour was a good one! (Incidentally, Larry King gave me this advice years ago.)
E-mail No. 6
Dear Greta: I have no words to express the depth of my gratitude for tonight's program with Steve and Olaf. The sense of "family" at FOX News is very evident. The look on Steve's face when Jennifer Griffin was telling her part of the story was worth a thousand words! And I find, after seeing all of you folks on FOX night after night, that I feel somewhat like part of the family too. The first half hour, without commercial interruption, was an indication of the importance in which all of you hold each other. Can you tell, I was blessed?
Newberry Springs, CA
E-mail No. 7
Although I only watch FNC, and no other channel, for my news and opinion programming, I usually have a fairly blasé disposition even concerning the best of FNC's programming... but I was on the edge of my seat listening to Jennifer describe the events relating to the Centanni/Wiig abduction and her involvement, but suddenly there was not time left.
Not only was Jennifer's reporting superb during the crisis but also, during her appearance on "OTR," she was telling one of the most fascinating stories I think that I have ever heard from a news reporter... and unfortunately for the viewers you had to go to commercial. Was Jennifer really finished with her report of her and the Israeli bureau chief's involvement? If not, I hope that you will get her back on to finish. And please publicize her appearance for that purpose in advance.
E-mail No. 8
Wow, what an interview. We always watch you and the FOX folks, but your interview with Steve and Olaf was unbelievable. The only thing wrong: There wasn't enough of it. There must be so much more that we could hear and learn, especially from Ms. Griffin. The behind-the-scenes digging into their capture/release was incredible. My hat is off to you and all those responsible for their release. Thank the Good Lord that Steve and Olaf are home safe and sound. God bless.
Oak Creek, WI
ANSWER: Thanks for the kind words about "your" interview (meaning mine), but if you watch the replay, you will notice that I said virtually nothing (which is how it should be). My colleagues and their families made this hour riveting.
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