Greta Van Susteren, the newest host on the Fox News Channel, says she recently underwent plastic surgery on her eyes based “on a whim,” due to fallout from her departure from rival network CNN.

Greta Van Susteren sporting new look

“I did it on a whim because CNN benched me for a month when they found out I wanted to come here to work,” Van Susteren told Fox colleague Bill O’Reilly on last night’s edition of “The O’Reilly Factor.” “I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘Should I get rid of this or not?'”

The 47-year-old former host of “The Point” on CNN has created a nationwide stir since undergoing the procedure almost a month ago, with some viewers and critics saying she’s become almost unrecognizable.

“I know it’s created this extraordinary buzz,” said Van Susteren, who insists she’s sick of talking about herself, but not her new “On the Record” program. “Buzz in our business, as you know, may grow our viewers. … Maybe it’ll help promote the show.”

Greta before eye surgery

Greta says that while working at CNN she didn’t have time available to consider such an operation but decided to alter her face during her transition to Fox News.

“I had in my mind that I had bags under my eyes,” she said. “But I never in my mind contemplated that I’d be switching jobs.”

Finally, Van Susteren decided to take the plunge and have the brief procedure on Jan. 11.

“I sort of did it on the spur of the moment,” she said. “I went in a couple of hours, and I was out. And in fact, I was on an airplane five [days] later.”

Van Susteren considers herself lucky, as she did not have to endure much, if any, post-operative discomfort. She was given pain killers, but stopped taking them after the first day. That didn’t preclude other side effects, however.

Greta after eye surgery

“My face looks a little bit like a basketball here in my cheek – I’m still swollen,” she said. “The doctor told me three weeks ago that it would – that I’d have swelling at least for three to six weeks. I figured, OK, three to six weeks. I’m a lucky person, it’ll be two weeks [for me].”

Later on the debut of her show, she pointed out why she hoped the puffiness fades soon.

“My only hope is that the swelling is down by the time I have my 30th high school reunion this summer,” she said. “I’m hoping to make jealous all those guys who would not date me in high school.”

Last month, another journalist became the focus of national attention over her looks, even though plastic surgery was not an issue.

Paula Zahn, who recently jumped ship from Fox to join CNN, was featured in a CNN promotion touting her as “sexy” that even had the sound of a zipper on its audio track.

CNN quickly pulled the promo, but the issue of sexy people in the news industry arose to the forefront of talk shows across America. Even O’Reilly did a segment on his Jan. 9 program with Tammy Bruce, author of “The New Thought Police.”

“You can be a credible journalist and sexy. I mean, I prove that every night here,” O’Reilly jokingly said.

“Of course you can,” responded Bruce. “You know, I know people, Bill, some women who believe that you’re very sexy.”

“I know, and they’re few and far between, but they’re right and that’s what’s important,” said O’Reilly, who continued to say no broadcaster, not even Zahn, objects to the attention.

“She doesn’t care whether they think she’s sexy, whether they think she’s a Methodist, whether they think she’s a red Chinese. All Paula Zahn wants is eyeballs so she gets high ratings. That’s all any of us want.”

Zahn’s response was different, telling “Access Hollywood” she felt the ad was offensive.

“I’ve worked in this business for more than 20 years proving my credibility, and what you want to hear promoted is the strength of your journalism,” said Zahn.

Fox News sought Van Susteren to take Zahn’s place in its 10 p.m. Eastern time slot after Zahn bolted Fox for CNN. Competition remains high between the two cable giants. Fox made headlines recently by winning its first-ever total month ratings victory over CNN in the just-concluded January Nielsen ratings period.

But as TV analyst Steve Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports, there’s an important point easily overlooked.

“In raw numbers, these upstarts are blown away by the alleged dinosaurs that are the network evening newscasts.”

“While Fox tallied 656,000 average viewers to CNN’s 596,000, the Big Three networks’ newscasts – existing, in the popular mythology, on life support – averaged more than 31 million viewers total during the week of Jan. 21.”

Nevertheless, Fox’s overtaking CNN even for a month is considered a media coup, with program content viewed as one of the key factors for Fox’s success. The network promotes itself with slogans such as “fair and balanced” and “we report, you decide,” working on the belief that the more established networks don’t always present news in an unbiased manner.

That belief is getting more attention with the recent release of “Bias,” an expos? of slanted coverage in broadcast news written by former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg. The book now sits atop the New York Times bestseller list.

With that in mind, O’Reilly asked Van Susteren if she was a liberal or a conservative, “because with the Clinton thing, people felt that you were liberal because you defended him.”

“It depends on the issue,” she responded. “And I’m not dodging you … but you know, I call it like I see it.”

And now Van Susteren has a fresh pair of eyes to make those calls.

Related offers:

“Bias”: Bernard Goldberg’s blockbuster that’s making networks cringe

“The No-Spin Zone – personalized and autographed by Bill O’Reilly”

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“Coloring the News: How crusading for diversity corrupts American journalism”

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