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



    MICHELLE OBAMA: I guess it is more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here. And a strong woman and -- you know, but that's been an image people tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced that I'm some angry black woman.


    SCOTT: The first lady there, addressing charges against her in the new unauthorized biography, The Obamas, written by New York Times reporter, Jodi Kantor.

    I haven't read it yet. I’ve read excerpts of it. But one of the charges about the book is that it sort of imagines what’s going on in the minds of the first couple. I mean a lot of these conversations, the thoughts and the feeling and so forth, nobody would have been privy to hear.

    THOMAS: At least Kantor interviewed living people, unlike Bob Woodward who used to channel dead people.


    We get it every administration. A book presents itself inside the minds of people. And what gave it credibility, after Kantor of this reported the major dust-up between Valerie Jarrett and former press secretary, Robert Gibbs, in which Gibbs used the F-word not only to disparage her but also the first lady. And there were some modest denials. Then Gibbs came out with an apology. And I think that gave even more credibility to Kantor's book.

    SCOTT: That is how it works in Washington?

    MILLER: That's the way it words in publishing and journalism and Washington. I would point out the book is now rolling off the shelves. It is sold out almost everywhere. And this is wonderful for Jodi Kantor, who interviewed 33 people in the West Wing, former and current staff people. If the Obamas did not want to talk to her, I don't think they're in a position to say well you can't imagine what I was thinking. Yes, she can. It is her right as long as she says that’s what she's doing. And I think she did that.

    SCOTT: One of the press criticisms thrown her way, Judy, and you can address this, as a former New York Times reporter, but it is that none of these stories ever appeared in print in the Times, until suddenly they appear in her book.

    MILLER: Exactly. And that is the constant tension in the daily newspaper. The New York Times and The Washington Post had. As Cal pointed out, Bob Woodward withheld information from the book. This is a judgment the institution makes. And I do think readers of those newspapers ought to ask, hey, what’s going on here.

    PINKERTON: And they might ask, for example, why they had the fabulous Halloween party, starring Johnny Depp and the director, Tim Burton, that cost a zillion dollars in 2009, and nobody knew about it for more than two years.

    SCOTT: The White House said it was on the daily press --


    PINKERTON: I don't think the lavish part was on the daily press --


    PINKERTON: -- some bloggers in Tennessee got it, so -- but every reporter, including -- and not just the ones who got the million-dollar advance like Jodi Kantor. Every other reporter seemingly knew about it and didn't think it was interesting they had a fabulous Hollywood party with one of the biggest stars in the world. That just didn't seem to quite match the narrative the White House wanted about, we're fighting hard against the recession in 2009. So, as somebody once said, there's 3,000 press secretaries shilling for the Obama White House.

    POWERS: I have a major problem actually with people withholding information. There are a lot of people do that; what is your first responsibility? Is it to make money for yourself and become famous, or to report and help inform people to make a decision about the presidency you're covering? By the way, you are covering it on the dime of The New York Times or The Washington Post or other people.


    MILLER: That’s why it’s the institutions call.

    SCOTT: The other interesting thing that happened at the White House this week was the resignation of Bill Daley, the chief of staff, who had only been in the job for a year. There were signs for a while that he was not exactly thriving in that post. But they announced on Monday, the day before the New Hampshire primary.

    Is that a coincidence, Cal?

    THOMAS: I don't know if it’s a coincidence, but nothing in the White House seems to be a coincidence. Daley announced he was going to be more business friendly. This was the whole reason behind his selection by the president to be chief of staff. And apparently, he wasn't business friendly enough to get along with Congress well enough. So they bring in this new guy, who has this Citigroup background and they'll try to retread him to be business friendly too. And I'm not sure it will play well.

    SCOTT: In an Occupy Wall Street era, I'm not sure the White House wants to be business friendly or perceived that way. We'll see how he does with Jack Lew as chief of staff.

    Time for one more break.

    Up next, Chris Christie adds an achievement to his list. And, no, he's not running for president.


    SCOTT: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not running for president but he is a man whose national profile continues to rise. He sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an interview airing new week and talked candidly about his weight problem. And he received the greatest honor in American pop culture, being spoofed on "The Simpsons." You know you've really made it when Homer Simpson wants you to occupy the Oval Office.


    CARTOON: They're all excellent choices, so pick the white male candidate you prefer and he'll get elected.

    HOMER SIMPSON CARTOON: I don't know. Can't we get Chris Christie to run?

    CARTOON: I don't think so.

    CARTOON: Save me Obamacare!



    SCOTT: The governor was spoofed on "Saturday Night Live" last fall as well.

    And that is a wrap on “News Watch” for this week.

    Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Kirsten Powers.