Greta Van Susteren, former CNN, MSNBC and Fox News personality, spoke informally Thursday to the group of fans who came to Barnes & Noble at Lake Sumter Landing to get autographed copies of her book Everything You Need to Know About Social Media Without Having to Call a Kid. Van Susteren chose only two places to hold book signings, a bookstore in Washington D.C. and The Villages.
“Many of my colleagues at Fox have been here and had such good things to say about The Villages,” said Van Susteren.
Van Susteren told the audience that she was the first person to have an anchor blog and considered herself on the cutting edge of social media until a conversation with her 25-year old niece about Instagram made her realize there was a lot more about this technology that she needed to know. She started really digging in and doing a lot of research.
“I hear people say I don’t like social media or Twitter because it is so negative. There are tricks to avoid the negativity which I detail in my book,” said Van Susteren.
She said that people will make blunders when making their foray into social media.
“I made them. Blunders can be hugely embarrassing, but no one dies from it. And it usually seems funny after the fact,” she said.
Van Susteren relayed a story in which auto correct resulted in a picture she had meant for her niece going to former Vice President Al Gore, requiring her to get in touch with him and apologize.
“Now it is funny, it wasn’t at the time,” she said.
The conversation turned to the news when she opened up the floor for questions. People wanted to know how to discern what is fake news when using social media.
“You have to find a couple of reporters or newscasters that you find credible and stick with them. Even credible reporters can make mistakes. You really have to be a careful consumer when it comes to the news and sometimes you have to do some good old fashioned fact checking,” she said.
When asked how she could work for two organizations with such opposing views, CNN and Fox News, Van Susteren said, “People don’t believe me, but I was never told what I could and could not do by either one. The only time I was told not to do a story was when Howard Dean’s son got into some trouble. I ran into Roger Ailes and he said not to do anything with that story.”
Susteren said she had not planned to go with the story but asked Ailes why. He said that the kid hadn’t done what a lot of other kids had done and running the story would ruin his life.
Responding to why she left Fox News after 14 years, Van Susteren said that after Gretchen Carlson’s story of sexual harassment broke it became a very disruptive place to work.
“I was shocked and didn’t know anything about it,” said Van Susteren. “I didn’t know which way it was going to unfold and found a clause in my contract that would allow me to leave. I rolled the dice and left without another job. I just knew that at my age I have to love my work.”
Currently Van Susteren volunteers doing segments for Voice of America TV. Asked whether she would be returning to Fox News, Van Susteren said, “Oh I don’t think so, Rupert Murdoch really doesn’t like me right now. It would take more than a beer summit, we would have to have the whole keg.”
Terry Slonim, Judy Bracken and Monica Stahley all miss watching her on Fox News.
“She was very balanced, you didn’t know her political views,” said Slonim.
“She also covered a lot of topics, she didn’t talk about the same thing over and over,” said Stahley.
Lucky and Jim Messenger also felt Van Susteren was straight forward.
“I was skeptical at first but found her reports to be honest and not biased. It became a show I did not want to miss,” said Jim.
Kay Winters and her 91-year-old mother came.
“She told me she didn’t want anything for Christmas,” said Winters, about her mother. “And then she found out Greta was coming and she said she changed her mind, she wanted to meet her and get her book for Christmas.”
Impressed with her age, Van Susteren told her she has coffee every Sunday with a woman that is 105 years old, John McCain’s mother.
Seemingly not in a hurry, Van Susteren continued to sit and chat with folks after all the books were signed.