Sheriff's Lieutenant Gets Flowers, Apology

12-7-05 - Fox News host Greta Van Susteren has apologized for her on-air criticism of the sheriff's department that arrested a man for probation violation after he saved four children from a burning apartment fire.

Taylor County Sheriff's Lt. Carol Taylor said the apology _ and flowers _ came from Van Susteren after the man was arrested last month on an arson charge in the 2003 fire.

Taylor couldn't remember exactly what was said during their interview, but she felt Van Susteren stereotyped the department as "dumb, hick southern Texas law enforcement people with no skills or tact."

Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti on Wednesday referred all comment to Van Susteren's blog, on which she details her apology in a Nov. 29 entry.

Taylor said Van Susteren thought at the time that the rescue was more important than Kris Leija's record. He had been serving a four-year probation after pleading guilty to a 2002 burglary.

"She just could not believe and was so shocked that we would be so petty to arrest him on outstanding warrants because of his heroism," Taylor said in Tuesday's Abilene Reporter-News. "She more or less thought we should ignore his warrant."

Last month Leija was arrested on a second-degree arson charge. Leija said he was tricked into confessing to starting the fire, an allegation police deny. Leija remained in the Taylor County Adult Detention Center on Wednesday on bail of $75,000, Taylor said.

After his arrest, Taylor said she sent Van Susteren an e-mail that said, "Dear Greta, apology accepted."

Van Susteren, who hosts Fox News' "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren," called her afterward and apologized.

"When she apologized, she said she went back and reviewed the tape and said, 'There was no excuse for my behavior,'" Taylor said. "The next day, I got flowers."

In reply to Taylor's email, Van Susteren wrote on her blog that Taylor was a "hero."

"She is my hero because she is gracious. ... perhaps something I lacked at the time," Van Susteren wrote. "I followed up her e-mail and called her yesterday and she said, 'When someone apologizes, you should accept it.' In addition to being gracious, she is wise. I hope I have learned from her."