Are you ready for a "change-up?" Yes, a "change-up" from my coverage of war in Iraq, election 2004, missing 727 jetliners, Al Qaeda, Kobe Bryant and Laci Peterson? Here it is: I am going to judge the 2004 Miss America pageant which begins Saturday, September 13 and ends with the crowning on Saturday, September 20.
Many have cheered me on for doing this because it is an American tradition and some have taken swipes at me because they think it belittles women. Well, rather than sit by the sidelines, I am going to find out for myself what the pageant is all about. I assume there is much more to knowing what the pageant really is than watching the grand finale crowning on Saturday night.
Here is what I have learned so far (and of course, the judging has not begun yet). I thumbed through the biographies sent to me of several young women contenders. Many graduated from college in three years. Yikes! It took me four years (and I had no extra credits to spare... I just made the cut off!)
I have also gotten some fun spirited e-mails. My sister-in-law -- a journalist and graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism -- sent me an e-mail asking me how much pure maple syrup she should send me to "help" me vote for Miss Vermont. Of course she was kidding and of course I know that. Other friends have likewise "lobbied" me for their state contestants. Of course they are just having fun with me and I take the judging seriously. I will be fair to each contestant. I will do my best.
In addition to the week-long judging, I will be doing our show On The Record from Atlantic City. The shows will not be about Miss America but maybe sometime during the week we will do a segment on the contest. At this point, I simply don't know since we plan our shows -- for the most part -- the day of the show.
I was sitting outside the United States Supreme Court late on Monday, Sept. 8 doing live shots on the activity inside the court and who should walk past? Ken Starr (search).
What was so unusual is that he was alone -- he was not being chased by the media and not surrounded by a pack of lawyers. There was no entourage. He was simply Ken Starr, a lawyer. There were no limousines, nor government cars. It was just Ken Starr walking in front of the Supreme Court.
It was odd -- almost bizarre -- how time has passed and we have all moved on to new stories and new jobs. Just a short time ago, the man could not walk to the curb with his trash without microphones being shoved in his face. Many people in the media practically lived in his front yard.
Now things are different. Now he was virtually unnoticed -- except by me. I called him over to my live shot location and we talked briefly. We talked briefly about what lawyers often talk about, the business of the Supreme Court. It was a very ordinary conversation between two lawyers. He had to go because he needed to catch a plane because he has to be in a New York court on Wednesday. We shook hands and I watched him walk off -- alone.
In the meantime, for all of you who have asked in e-mails to me, no, I have not gotten an apology from the Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin for trashing my book, My Turn at the Bully Pulpit without first reading it. I guess they just can't bring themselves to admitting they were wrong. Maybe the editor, Judy Ettenhofer, needs some more prodding from you. Her number is 608 252-6463, (firstname.lastname@example.org).
By the way, the National Review Online also wrote something about the book that was wrong and they immediately fixed it. I was very pleased at their decency.
I was not the least bit mad at National Review since, like them, I can make mistakes. But, I am disheartened by the Capital Times. It is my college town paper and I had hoped they would do the right thing. They just won't budge. If I get from them a simple "I am sorry," they will get from me, "that's OK. I make mistakes, too."
Watch On the Record with Greta Van Susteren weeknights at 10 p.m. ET