Like plenty of other cable news talk-show hosts, Greta Van Susteren anchored a segment on her top-rated Fox News show Tuesday assessing, among other things, the future of Herman Cain's presidential candidacy in the wake of the allegation that Cain had a 13-year affair with a woman from Atlanta.
But unlike plenty of other cable news talk-show hosts, Van Susteren had an important relationship to the story, and to the Cain campaign. Her husband--prominent Washington lawyer John Coale--is now acting as an adviser to Cain.
Van Susteren did not disclose her husband's relationship to Cain on the air, opting instead to alert readers in a post on Gretawire.com that Coale's relationship with Cain is not an ethical issue because the Cain campaign is not paying him. She also maintained that the Cain alliance is pretty much par for the course for people living inside the Beltway.
"Here is a partial list of my husband's Washington friends," Van Susteren wrote: "Gov. O'Malley (D), Gov. Palin (R), The Clintons (D), Speaker Gingrich (R), Leader Pelosi (D), Senator Santorum (R), Congresswoman Bachmann (R), Senator John Kerry (D), Mr. Herman Cain (R).
"My husband has lived in Washington for a long time and has lots of friends and he makes friends," she continued. "My husband has never worked for any of them nor taken a dime from any of them. He is not a lobbyist (never has been) and he is not looking for a job. These are simply his friends . . . people he finds interesting. As friends, he gives them advice, and they give him advice . . . he tells them things and they tell him things. I suppose his years as a lawyer makes him a good source for advice and just conversation. It is all part of living in Washington."
"By the way," she added. "Outside of work, I know these people, too."
Bill Shine, Fox News EVP of programming, said that Van Susteren's disclosure in a blog post--and not on air--was sufficient and that he's comfortable with the decision to address her husband's relationship there.
Van Susteren's "On The Record" draws an average of 1,583,000 viewers a night for Fox News, according to Nielsen Media Research. The monthly traffic to Gretawire.com is too small to be estimated.
It was Coale who abruptly canceled a dinner the Cain campaign had planned for Dec. 4 with prominent New York media figures, including New York Post columnist Cindy Adams Cindy Adams, "Today" show host Matt Lauer, CBS News' Lesley Stahl, ABC's Barbara Walters, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Van Susteren. Cain said he is "reassessing" his candidacy in the wake of the latest allegations.
Following the 2008 presidential campaign, Van Susteren was subjected to similar criticism for not disclosing her husband's relationship with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who also sought his political advice.
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