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

    I think you seem to agree.

    MILLER: I may agree. But that’s not the issue. What is the American public think? I mean, they are tuning in, in record numbers. 20 struck me as excessive. But as long as people are still watching them, it is hard to argue that we're not going to give people what they want to see, which is these candidates in action.

    SCOTT: But, is it illuminating?

    PINKERTON: Well, the public is also known to want ultimate fighting.



    PINKERTON: -- and child sacrifice at various times.


    This is a case where the media have figured out they have a good gig. And if they run it, people will watch. And then back to moral hazard again, as in the danger, if you doing something bad that promotes your self-interest. And George Stephanopoulos at ABC now realizes he can be part of the show.

    (CROSSTALK)THOMAS: As a famous columnist wrote this week, namely myself --


    -- Why are the Republicans putting themselves into this straightjacket? Why do they feel they have to show up at the media-driven debates where they know they'll get the gotcha questions, like the Stephanopoulos contraception, and should states pass these laws, kind of thing? Why don't they do their own debates and pick their own panel members. Have Sean Hannity, have Rush Limbaugh show up? If Limbaugh can judge the Miss America contest, he certainly ought to be part of the presidential selection process.

    SCOTT: For those who might have missed --


    PINKERTON: Really good. SCOTT: For those who might have missed George Stephanopoulos's questions roll it now.



    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, DEBATE MODERATOR: Do you believe the states have that right or not?

    ROMNEY: George, I -- I don't know whether the state has the right to ban contraception. No state wants to. The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no state wants to do --


    ROMNEY: -- asking me whether they can do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe that the Supreme Court should overturn it not?


    STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you really take the time now and explain to everybody what happened there? How it was possible that those kinds of comments went out under your name, without you knowing about it?

    PAUL: Concentrating on something that was written 20 years ago, that I didn't write, is diverting the attention from most of the important issues.


    SCOTT: Well, that is Ron Paul's take on those comments that go back a couple of decades that George Stephanopoulos brought up now. Was he being just a fair-minded journalist or an attack dog?

    POWERS: In those questions, I don't have a problem with them. It’s strange a Harvard law graduate doesn't know about Griswold versus Connecticut. He should know whether states are allowed to ban the sale of contraceptives. And, I think George Stephanopoulos was incredulous that he didn't know that.

    And I think the newsletters are fair game. But Paul has a very important point as well, which is he's one of the only people that talks about racial issues in terms of the drug sentencing laws and death penalty and things like that. And rather than focusing on really important issues, they’re focusing on something that happened a long time ago, that he has answered 50 times already.

    THOMAS: But the real question should have been, from George, OK, what do you think about Jews? What did you think about the civil rights legislation and voting rights and open housing laws of 1964, 1965? You were against big government. Do you think it was good legislation or not? Those were the questions that should have been asked.

    SCOTT: George Stephanopoulos has spent a lot of time in the media recently. But people forget there was a time when he was front and center in the Clinton administration. And the argument is that he never quite took off that hat successfully.

    MILLER: And increasingly that is the way political coverage is going. Activists, news people, news people become activists. I mean, it is just such a thin line at this point as to be nonexistent.

    POWERS: But the other thing people forget is -- it was a long time ago -- Diane Sawyer worked in the Nixon administration. It's not just Democrats who come out of administrations and work in the media.

    MILLER: Right. It's not.

    PINKERTON: It's not just in the past. It's also future. Anybody in these debates is stupid, from their point of view, in the media, not to use the debate to get attention and notoriety. And for all the Republicans booing George Stephanopoulos, there are liberals at Planned Parenthood and others cheering for them. And they say, my next interview with President Obama will be -- my next interview with Vice President Biden, Michelle Obama. The notion of a "get" is fully in the minds of these people as they ask the question, knowing, in a YouTube world, they’ll become famous for asking the hardest hardball question.

    POWERS: My criticism would be -- and Mark MacKinnon makes the point in a study that was just done for Harvard and debates on reforming the system -- that they should be more focused on, at this point, asking questions that Republican primary voters are interested in. Because, really, that’s what this is about. And they spent so much time on issues like gay marriage that had been asked and answered. We do not need to go over it again.

    SCOTT: We have to take another break.

    If you see something that shows evidence to you of media bias, e-mail us, newswatch@FOXnews.com.

    Up next, what is all the fuss over the new Obama book?

    ANNOUNCER: The Obamas generating tons of headlines and media coverage. But what’s the big shocker? Plus, he's the third chief of staff in three years to step down. Was the timing just right for the media to ignore a big shakeup in the White House? Answers next, on “News Watch.”