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Social Media Expert Greta Van Susteren: The #MeToo Trend, Fox News, and a Boy Named Sampson

11-14-2017
GretaVanSusterenAP

In a social media-crazed world it can be hard to navigate the waters. 

That's why celebrated journalist and political analyst Greta Van Susteren has written the book on all things social media. 

"Everything You Need to Know About Social Media (Without Having to Call a Kid)" hits stores November 14.  

The former CNN, MSNBC and Fox News talent told CBN News about the good, bad and ugly of a social media-driven world. 

#MeToo and Fox News 

Van Susteren says even though it gets a bad rap, social media can be a tool for good.

Recently, Twitter has been a pioneer in exposing the underbelly of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the US.  

The hashtag #MeToo went viral when women and men began to publicly accuse former coworkers and even family friends of sexual harassment, molestation and rape.

The sense of empowerment from that social media movement has led to a fury of accusations.

Household names like Charlie Sheen, Louis C.K. and George Takei have all been accused of sexual assault or misconduct. 

But the accusations go far beyond Hollywood movie sets. Journalists have seen their fair share of outings.  

MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin was fired after a dozen women accused him of a history of sexual harassment and misconduct. 

A firestorm of sexual harassment allegations came against media giant Fox News, leading to the ousting of former CEO Roger Ailes and longtime host Bill O'Reilly. 

Van Susteren, a former Fox News host, was working for Fox when the allegations began to surface. 

"I was at Fox 14 and a half years, they were all in New York. This is not to duck responsibility, I was in DC. I never heard about it. It never happened to me in DC, never heard about it," she recalled. 

"Is this a Fox thing or an industry thing. Or is it a power thing?" asked CBN News correspondent Amber Strong. 

"It's a power thing. It's not just Fox. You've seen Harvey Weinstein. You've seen Louis C.K. You've seen a lot of this," she said.  

Van Susteren said the work environment changed as the accusations against Fox grew. 

"I had an office next to Brett Baier at Fox in DC forever," she explained. 

"I'd walk into Brett Baier's office and I knew Brett didn't want me to close the door. Brett and I had been friends for a hundred years. I'm close to Brett's wife. I know his kids," she said. 

"I liked to be able to go into Brett's office and put my feet on his coffee table, and talk to him. I liked that," she recalled. 

'Don't Demonize All Men': Accusations and the Fallout 

She warns that while the movement can be a good thing, the accusations can be dangerous, too.  

Van Susteren, who is a former defense lawyer says it's important to remember the nuances of the law. 

"I could assault you right now by saying I'm going to hit you, even though I haven't hit you. In the District of Columbia that's assault, because I have threatened you and I have the present apparent ability to do it because I am just a foot from you," she explained. 

She says there are no easy answers to the fallout. 

"Women shouldn't live in fear. Men shouldn't live in fear because men can be sexually harassed. Women can be the harassers. But there is a piece of me that since I was a criminal defense lawyer, I fear there are also going to be unfair accusations," she warned. 

"How do we make those decisions? In the courtroom, you have to face your accuser. It's beyond a reasonable doubt. In the court of public opinion it's very different," she continued. 

"I don't think there's any easy answer. When you read these stories of what some of these women endure, really? That's horrible. This has got to stop. It's got to stop. We also have to realize we don't demonize all men," she said. 

Twitter, Franklin Graham and a Boy Named Sampson 

In her book, Van Susteren recalls how a Twitter message and a call from Franklin Graham saved the life of a Liberian boy. 

"I got this call about late October and Franklin said, 'I'm going to open a hospital in Liberia,'" she explained.  

Van Susteren, who had recently been let go from Fox News, decided to go, too. 

She tweeted to her followers she was headed to Africa using the hashtag #Liberia.  

"I get this message through my Twitter feed…'Can you help this boy in Liberia?'" Van Susteren said. 

Her journalistic curiosity got the best of her and she discovered that boy was a 15-year-old named Sampson.  

Sampson was deemed an outcast in his Liberian village. Multiple facial tumors had left him disfigured. 

Working together with Graham and Samaritan's Purse, Van Susteren was able to meet Sampson and determine he needed medical attention that was not available in Liberia. 

Once again, she turned to social media for help. 

"I figured I needed about $150,000 to get the surgery," she said. 

Van Susteren and her online followers raised the cash in 24 hours.  

With the money from the GoFundMe campaign, she says they were able to pay for the surgery to remove the tumors. 

"He is now a very handsome young man. We brought him back to Liberia in May," she said. 

Young Sampson has since been adopted by an American couple. 

Van Susteren credits it to the goodness of people, Samaritan's Purse and the power of the hashtag. 

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media (Without Having to Call A Kid)

Keeping up with the myriad of options in the social world is a job within itself. 

There's Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and Tinder, just to name a few. 

And then there's the terminology. 

For example, have you pinned your best tweet with the top-trending hashtag lately? It could go viral.  

Exactly. 

Van Susteren has taken the guesswork out of a confusing new world. 

She told CBN News, the new book has a little something for everyone, from the budding entrepreneur looking to sharpen their marketing skills to the parent or grandparent trying to keep up with what the kids are doing online.  

Van Susteren, who has 1.2 million Twitter followers, says her quest to educate the world about social media had a simple start. 

"About a year and half ago, I was sitting down with my millennial niece and I asked her what I thought was a reasonably sophisticated social media question and she said to me, 'Seriously?'" she recalled with a laugh. 

That conversation put her on a quest to learn more about each platform, how they work and how to use them for good. 

The book also includes what NOT to do on social media. 

"I've got my blunders in there," said Van Susteren. 

The longtime TV host has also launched "Sorry" – a social media app that allows users to send an apologetic message via video.

The message disappears a short time after it's received. The receiver then has the option to reject or accept the apology. 

If the receiver accepts, all is right with the world. If not, #sorry. Try again. 

 

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