Bristol Palin More Comfortable On The Record Than Van Susteren

Part 1 of Greta Van Susteren’s interview with Gov. Sarah Palin’s 18-year-old daughter, Bristol Palin (and family), aired last night on Fox News.

Van Susteren appeared rather uncomfortable at times (more so than Bristol) talking about the stated focus of the interview, what Van Susteren described as “the big picture of teen pregnancy” (Bristol gave birth to a son, Tripp, in late December):

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it always is sort of a difficult thing, you know, when it’s a question of youth, and no one ever really knows what to say to a young person in your situation.

BRISTOL: Yes. I don’t know. I just — I hope that people learn from my story and just, like, I don’t know, prevent teen pregnancy, I guess.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does [Levi, Tripp’s father] have any sort of — does he feel the same way you feel about teen pregnancy and have some sort of — Well, maybe a good idea to wait usually, unless things happen?

“Maybe a good idea to wait usually, unless things happen?” Maybe a good idea that Van Susteren avoid putting words in her interviewee’s mouth (particularly since Bristol’s own words on this matter were much more succinct):

BRISTOL: Yes. [Levi] feels the same way I do. We both just — kids should just wait. It’s — I don’t know. It’s not glamorous at all.

And then, Van Susteren recovers and asks a rather direct question.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don’t want to pry too personally, but I mean, actually, contraception is an issue here. Is that something that you were just lazy about or not interested, or do you have a philosophical or religious opposition to it or…

BRISTOL: No. I don’t want to get into detail about that. But I think abstinence is, like — like, the — I don’t know how to put it — like, the main — everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.


BRISTOL: Because — I don’t want to get into details on this.

Van Susteren also asked Bristol (by way of statement, not question) how she felt about “the media:”

VAN SUSTEREN: You know — you know, we all learned about [your pregnancy] in August or so, after — and the media, I guess, dogged you a little bit.


VAN SUSTEREN: What was your reaction to that?

BRISTOL: I mostly just didn’t pay attention to it because my family’s strong and it doesn’t matter what the — like, what tabloids say or anything like that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you read any of the tabloids?

BRISTOL: I’ve seen some of them, and I think people out there are just evil because they don’t know what was going on at all.

And later in the interview, while Van Susteren was watching the Iron Dog race with Gov. Palin, the governor offered – after suggesting President Obama veto the stimulus bill — this (unprompted) statement on The Fairness Doctrine (some background on that here), cutting off Van Susteren’s important question for young Piper Palin:

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Piper, do you have anything to say about the [Iron Dog] race before we end this?

SARAH PALIN: Hey, another thing, though, that, Greta, I would add, too, is not — it’s not just a stimulus package that we need to keep our eyes and ears open about right now in America, but it’s this fairness doctrine. It’s these attempts in Congress that are being discussed at this point to shut down voices that are asking the tough questions. I know that you’re asking some tough questions, Glenn Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly — you guys are asking tough questions about what’s in this package and about what government is doing. Now, if there’s any attempt to quash any of these voices, that’s a scary thing for our democracy, for our country. So we have to keep our eyes open and ears open also for that kind of discussion.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.