Ruth Graham's Fascinating Life

Want Greta's blog delivered directly to your e-mail box? Click here to sign up!

Add to your Address Book to ensure that you receive the GretaWire in your Inbox. Click here if you are unable to see images in the e-mail.

And check out my pod cast on iTunes!

This business is incredibly exciting and you get to meet almost everyone! However, from time to time you miss one you wish you could have met and interviewed. Well, I just learned about one I missed. In preparing for the inevitable, I have been reading about Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Rev. Billy Graham. When I learned that she was very sick, I began doing research about her. The cold truth is that we have to be prepared for deaths of famous people. If the death occurs between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., I must be prepared to handle it for our network. I had always known her as the reverend’s wife, but knew nothing more about her.

Now I have learned some really extraordinary things that made me wish that I could have interviewed her. Here are a few fascinating facts about her life: born in China (1920), spent her first 17 years in China... parents were missionaries in China (her father a doctor) and they were surrounded by disease, despair, the chaos of civil wars, etc., went to boarding school in Korea (in Pyongyang), fell in love with Rev. Graham on their first date (a performance of Handel’s "Messiah"), dreamed of going to Tibet after college at Wheaton but married instead. We know much about her post-marriage life but I had no idea she had such an exotic youth. I bet she had great stories about China, and I wonder if she had been fluent in any Chinese dialect. Yes, this woman was fascinating, and she appears to have been adventurous at a time when women had few opportunities to be adventurous, and I wish I had not missed the chance to interview her and find out all these things about her.

Incidentally, I have a stack of research on my desk for many people who we fear could be near death, e.g. Fidel Castro. I guess the last thing anyone wants to be is the subject of research on the corner of an anchor's desk. Networks prepare video obituaries long in advance of deaths and constantly update them as things change in individual's lives. When someone dies, we have to be prepared. You might wonder how we can go to breaking news about a famous person and immediately have so much information about them. Well, now you know why. Networks have a library of obituaries for people who are even young and well. When I first got into television I was horrified to learn that obituaries were done well before people died. Now I see the practical reasons.

Check out the video blog today. I drafted Ted and Bernie to do the video blog last night and they are great sports. Right before our show I asked them to come into the studio and I flipped on my laptop to do a video blog. The point of the video blog today? I just wanted you to just see Ted and Bernie and me pre-show. It is a pretty relaxed environment. We tease each other. We are good friends.

Now for some e-mails (Read my response to No. 7 below. E-mail me whether you agree or if I am off my rocker.)

E-mail No. 1

I think what the city of L.A. is doing to Paris Hilton is horrible. After she gets out, does Paris have any legal recourse (like sue the city of L.A.) for being bounced around like a yo-yo? Also, if she has a nervous breakdown or heart attack, etc., can she or her family sue the city?
Thank you,
Cleveland, Ohio

E-mail No. 2

I also noticed the comment you made about health and was kinda startled but I think it was the way you said it. I am glad she was OK. Also, I am anxious to hear tonight if Madeleine was found today. I love your show.
Paula P.

E-mail No. 3

Hi Greta,
I wanted to come to your defense about the woman on YouTube. Obesity is a problem in the U.S. and we hear it all the time. I've lost 78 pounds recently and my doctor still won't get off my back until I lose another 30 pounds. I have gone back and fourth with my weight all my life. What I want to say is, I think you do a great job and all the nasty e-mails you're getting are not worth reading. I will keep watching you and I think it's wonderful that you called Joy to apologize even though you didn't say anything wrong or out of line.
Have a great day,
Danville, KY

E-mail No. 4

Hi Greta,
Regarding your "overweight guest," you did an outstanding job!! You know, I don't understand some of your viewers' comments, especially the seriously-not-true attacks on you!! Please don't listen to that crap, Greta!!! I have good gut instincts — you are NOT the problem here!!
Love you!

E-mail No. 5

My position on Paris' plight has changed. She was traumatized by an overzealous judge. She should be released. Punishing her for being snotty just doesn't get it with me.
Southlake, Texas

E-mail No. 6

Her punishment is not so harsh. Remember, she violated probation twice. Sentencing, at that point, is the judge's discretion up to jail time for the full sentence. Around here for her level offenses, first time VOP is 10 days, second VOP, 30 days.
Tim F.
Kodak, TN

E-mail No. 7

I guess you are friends with the Hilton's because the way you defend Paris is sickening. Maybe you will see that the girl has a problem when she kills someone after driving drunk. I noticed tonight you had 3 lawyers who agreed with you. PARIS BELONGS IN JAIL. Get over it. There are more important things going on. You don't need to defend Paris — she pays lawyers plenty for that.

ANSWER: I have never met her. The first and only time I have ever seen her was in court last Friday from about 2 feet away. I would think you would be disappointed in me if I dropped the story when I think the California justice system and jail system needs a spotlight shined on it to point out unfairness or defects. Celebrities in trouble provide that vehicle — just like when celebrities support charities there is attention to the charities. I don't shy away from opportunities just because people may not like the person who is the subject of the story. I think it's important to tell people if a system is unfair (admittedly many are), if there is overcrowding (since that means that people who are dangerous will get released for this reason, too), if medical care is bad in a facility (everyone should get medical care in facilities who need it, rich or poor), etc. And yes, I wish I could get you to watch segments about these important topics without having to attach a celebrity to them. Unfortunately it usually takes a high-profile person like Paris to get people to look at something like jails and our system of justice. I think justice and our jail system is important and even more important when there are problems with it. And now, I am happy to report, people are interested in it. By the way, I see you did not have the courage to attach your name to your e-mail. Perhaps next time?

E-mail No. 8

It's obvious you don't like being slammed for defending "her richness snob." You try to solicit sympathy for "her hotness" by quoting stats about other criminals who receive less time for drugs, burglary and domestic abuse and you believe Hilton's sentence is unfair. Boohoo! First, the other criminals should have to serve more time for sure (build more jails!) BUT that does not excuse "her bratness" crimes and I'm sick of hearing it! A) Hilton is addicted to herself = drugs, B) She has stolen the morality of many decent law-abiding young girls and replaced it with her immoral lifestyle practices via example = burglary and C) The sickening media attention she's receiving compels many people to want to slap her head off, if given the opportunity = domestic violence! Conclusion: The irresponsible, immature, conceited, whining, obnoxious law breaker is also guilty of the other crimes as well and she deserves the same sentence and even longer! Drunk driving is CRIMINAL! Too bad the court system does not include a one-year MANDATORY sentence for anyone who annoys the hell out of the public! (By the way, FOX News and all other media outlets would probably receive that sentence as well for shoving that crap in our faces nonstop! And I am a fan of FOX News but my patience is wearing thin!)
Christina B.
Chester, VA

E-mail No. 9 (You might want to read yesterday's blog to put this next e-mail in context.)

I was so very disappointed in your interview with the young woman, "your guest," on you show last night. I too thought you were extremely rude to her. You can try to paint it any way you want, but you were rude. And I know you knew that you were being rude. It was too apparent. You have a true disdain for "fat people." It came across very loud and clear. I, like the rant, AM FAT TOO. I have done every diet in the book. I have lost hundreds of pounds over the years. I think I am as healthy as many of the people I know that are my age and are slender. I have low blood pressure, I never get colds, flu, etc. I see many people who jog keel over with a heart attack all of the time. Please look into your heart and realize that you need to change this about yourself. I think you are a good person, but this is a major character flaw.
Another Fat Ranter
(Mildred B.)

E-mail No 10

Hi Greta,
Just reading the blog now. I worked at the hospital this evening. I think you would trust that I would be straight with you regarding feedback. It's never my intention to be hurtful when I have offered negative feedback. Honest feedback, I figure, is the best. I’m a serious viewer regarding your show. I’m a fair person. Sometimes things may not come across well because of the e-mail milieu and I think that this has happened sometimes on my part. Mostly, however, I think that my e-mail has been 95% absolutely positive as 95% of the time.
OK, so with that being said, I DON’T agree with the e-mail that the viewer sent. I think you were polite, tactful and respectful with the guest. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I figure that possibly the viewer is reacting because of their own or family issues. The interview was fine, the tone was friendly and supportive but honest and straight, etc. There is a lot out there right now in the medical literature and the news also about the growing problem of increased weight/health risks. As a health professional, my impression was that I was happy that you did that interview and thought you did a good job regarding raising the awareness of the risks involved with excess weight. Thanks again for the blog.

E-mail No. 11

Hi Greta,
Have those who complain that Paris' visitors don't have to wait in line to visit her considered this: If the senior Hiltons were in line, imagine the number of media there would be surrounding them. I think the waiting time would be horrendously increased and people might even miss out on getting into see their loved ones. Maybe allowing the Hiltons this seemingly preferential treatment is good for every one else?
Regards from Down Under,
Liz M.
Victor Harbor, South Australia

E-mail No. 12

Dear Greta,
Thanks for saying "whorehouse" twice tonight on your broadcast instead of "house of prostitution." From now on, could you say "crazy house" or "nuthouse" instead of "mental institution"? It'd also be great if you would say "meat wagon" instead of "ambulance."
Paul P.
Columbia, SC

E-mail No. 13

This girl Kara that is missing... In your segment you never give the state where she is missing from. You do barely mention the city and that it is near where that other girl disappeared, on the border of Kansas and Missouri I think. I suppose people that live there would know, but thought you might want to know that.
Mark S.
Hot Springs, AR

ANSWER: Great point! It is obviously an oversight and a stupid one. I suppose we were so into the story ourselves that we missed this. It is Missouri and thanks for pointing this out.

E-mail No. 14

To think that you and your illustrious "panel" think that Ms. Hilton is being treated unfairly is indeed troubling. Please remember, she was drinking and driving. Herein lies the problem. She (and others like her) thinks she can do this, receive a sentence of 30 to 45 days, get lawyered up, and get out in 3 or 4 days. To insinuate that domestic violence, robbery, etc. are worse than drinking and getting into a vehicle and driving is very dangerous. Perhaps if she had crashed into a human being either walking in the street or driving in their car and seriously injured or killed them, you might think her sentence was fair (although I doubt it)!! The 3- or 4-day sentence should be the problem!!! If these offenders think they will be jailed for their full term, perhaps this might curtail the huge amount of offenders. As long as they think they can repeatedly drink and drive, get arrested, and be back on the street in 3 days (or in some cases a few hours) doing the same thing, nothing will ever change. Violate probation twice, drive with a suspended license, and then pretend that you do not know what the word SUSPENDED means!!! What planet is she from?? And to use the excuse that the jail is overcrowded, therefore she should be let go, please, give me a break!! She was sentenced to 23 days — not 23 years!!! 23 DAYS!!! This had nothing to do with liking her or not. I truthfully do not see what there is to like. You are talking about someone who receives huge amounts of money ($100,000 to $150,000) to appear at clubs to party, drink, do drugs, etc. Yes, she certainly is a terrific businesswoman. Her family should be very proud of her!!! If I had done any of the things that she has done, my mother would have killed me!!! Her parents seem so proud — how sad!!! If you people (the 20 TV shows) would stop talking about her, perhaps she would go away. There are good, decent, hardworking people in this world.
Tina K.

Send your thoughts and comments to:

Watch "On the Record" weeknights at 10 p.m. ET