• With: Judy Miller, Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Kirsten Powers

    SCOTT: Cal, Wednesday, Mitt Romney went on six of the network morning shows. He was on CNN, MSNBC and on Fox, and being asked about his performance. On CNN, Soledad O'Brien asked him about his 16-point win in New Hampshire. She described it as being not a victory?

    CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes. Well, it is all about expectation, which the media set up. They set up the level that you are supposed to -- the bar you’re supposed to jump over. And if you don't jump over the bar, somehow it wasn't as great.

    But here, I'm going to use a word now that isn’t often heard on network television -- I'll use the C-word -- its conflict. This is what the media like better than anything else. It's one of the few equal opportunity things they indulge in. When the Democrats were eating each up in the last election cycle in -- well, when Clinton was running we had Whitewater and Paula Jones. And as everybody knows, Republicans don't have sex.


    So they have to do other stuff now with them to keep the conflict going which builds ratings. No surprise.

    SCOTT: The 16-point victory was not a victory according to CNN was part of that?


    PINKERTON: Look, the moral hazard of reporters is so strong that they would say, Mitt Romney, you won huge, you won decisively , you won bigger than Bush 41 did in 1988; Snooze, right? Basically, they're going to go over to watch reruns of some of their -- soap opera. So they have to keep at it and pounding away. They’re making it into a soap opera.

    But, as Kirsten said, the handle they got this year, the life saver was from Gingrich and this 28-minute video, and all of the hoo-ha associated with that, that is a gift to the Nielsen ratings.

    MILLER: But it’s also a gift to the Democrats. I mean, that’s the real


    MILLER: How many times do you think we'll hear vulture capitalism from the White House as soon as -- or if Mitt Romney gets the nomination?

    THOMAS: Republicans have been behaving like those Buddhist monks that we saw during the Vietnam War, setting themselves on fire in protest.


    I mean they are making the Democratic National Committee commercials.

    And by the way, Jim, soap operas are going off the air. You have to come up with something else.


    "One Life to Live" is the last one.

    SCOTT: CBS's Bob Schieffer was on "CBS This Morning," on Tuesday, and slamming Mitt Romney for the "I like to fire people" line," stating that Romney was looking for every way he can to try to lose, and drive down his percentage of victory.

    POWERS: Well, look, the actual quote was, "I like to be able to fire people." He was talking about insurance companies. But, hello, we live in an environment where -- of YouTube. Any candidate has to know when you say something like that how it’s going to be used.

    SCOTT: Right, probably an unfortunate choice of words. But the AP, MSNBC, CNN and others all picked that one little line up and played that line, but didn't play it in the context in which he was discussion it.

    THOMAS: This is why Obama uses the teleprompter all the time, even when speaking to kindergarten students, so he will not mess up or ad-lib or get himself into trouble. He rarely does this. So you can knock the teleprompter, but Mitt Romney ought to try it.

    PINKERTON: And once again, Rick Perry jumped on it, too.

    MILLER: Right.

    PINKERTON: The Republicans are handing the media and the Obama administration the sword, which they’re happy to use to hack away.

    MILLER: And it's the second time, because it follows the $10,000 bet, because we all go around making $10,000 bet. And so this is clearly something that Romney’s vulnerable on.

    SCOTT: All right, it's time for a break.

    But first, if you want to keep up on the media stories during the week go to our web site. Watch our daily “Bias Bash" there and check out the "Watch List" section.

    Up next, over a dozen debates down, and more still to come. Are we awash in debates? Why so many? And are they helping or hurting?


    ROMNEY: George, this is an unusual topic.


    ANNOUNCER: A double header in New Hampshire for Republican presidential candidates, two debates, same issues, same cast, same format. Why are there so many debates in the GOP race?

    Plus, shocking details from a new unauthorized biography on the Obama's has the White House playing defense. What are they so upset about? Answers next, on “News Watch.”

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)DAN BALZ, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think the debates have taken away the abilities of these candidates to begin to put out some serious proposals that do get looked at and written about and talked about by all of us. It has been so much easier for all of us and for all of you probably to simply think about performance.



    SCOTT: That's The Washington Post's Dan Balz cautioning against the media's and the public's dependency on the debates this time around. Are there too many and are they deluding the message?

    I just heard a big sigh from across the table, Judy's way.