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Why Greta Van Susteren Can’t Be Taken Seriously About Fox’s Sexual Harassment Scandals Anymore


I think it’s safe to say that Greta Van Susteren should just not say anything about sexual harassment.  The former Foxer changed her tune on Gretchen Carlson v. Roger Ailes a little too much to be seriously credible, and now she’s tweeting things that show her utter lack of a clue about sexual harassment as even a general topic.  She’s getting called out on Twitter, and her learning curve seems to be at a flatline.

Let’s recap.  When news broke about Carlson’s claims against Ailes, Greta was there to defend her then-boss.

She said:

“If Roger Ailes were how he’s described, there’s no way I would’ve stuck around. I don’t feel like putting up with that stuff and I wouldn’t. Even if he weren’t doing it to me, I wouldn’t want to work in that environment. I sort of feel bad for Gretchen Carlson because it’s sort of a weird thing that she’s done. What she’s alleging is something that is alien to me. I’ve never heard it.”

But other women came forward, and Carlson’s complaint emerged as the tip of a seriously troubling iceberg. Greta, following Geraldo Rivera’s lead, changed her tune.  She then spoke out, saying that she regretted her initial reluctance to believe Carlson writing:

And that’s all well and good.  Not every sexual-harassment accusation is true, and Van Susteren, a seasoned journalist, was certainly well within her rights to change her opinion as additional facts surfaced.  If only she could just have left it there.

But now that Greta has settled in over at MSNBC, her attitude about the entire subject of sexual harassment has gotten a little weird. Yesterday, she went on a twitterant that started with something of an epiphany:

Ok, so this is progress.  Now that Greta has left the Fox world, she understands that corporations often hide a culture of misogyny beneath a veneer of beyond-reproach workplace standards. In all fairness to Greta, these these truths sometimes seem clearer in a rear-view mirror.

But then, she started criticizing the very idea of sexual harassment training:

Followed by this gem…

… which sounds a lot like this woman has never been in the same room with an actual sexual predator.  While there certainly are some who openly harass in vulgar and crude ways, there are obviously many, many cases in which harassment is more subtle (although hardly less abusive), and conducted within the confines of what might be considered “good manners.”  Sexual harassers of every variety are experts at finding imperceptible ways to exploit their victims.  There is simply no excuse for Greta Van Susteren not to know this.

Twitter erupted with some education for Greta, reminding her that there are people in workplaces who actually do need to learn something about sexual harassment.

But she did not take the hint.  She kept up the rant about the incredible burden of undergoing workplace training:

“Ugh,” indeed, Greta. To make matters worse (and I’m sure it was no coincidence), Van Susteren’s tweets hit the web yesterday right around the same time a New York Times story broke about $13 million in payouts made by Fox and Bill O’Reilly to protect O’Reilly from sexual harassment complaints from five women. According to the Times, the settlements (two which had been previously known, and three that were just uncovered) occurred shortly after Roger Ailes was dismissed from Fox last summer in the wake of scandal, as Fox insisted that it did not tolerate behavior that “disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment.”  O’Reilly, ever the charmer, denies the merit of any such claims.

Until she gets a clue, Greta Van Susteren should really just not talk about sexual harassment. I get it. She wasn’t victimized. Good for her. Glad to hear it. But someone who worked in an alleged harassment factory for years without even noticing it probably isn’t the best authority on whether harassment training works. When it comes to sexual violence of any severity, there are two choices: one can be part of the solution or be part of the problem.  Maybe Greta just needs a little more time away from the Fox studios to figure out which side she’d like to take.

Editor’s Note: The $13 million in payments were made by both Fox and O’Reilly. This story has been updated to reflect that fact.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos