This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," February 25, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
Watch the latest video at FoxNews.com
JON SCOTT, HOST OF "FOX NEWS WATCH" (voice-over): On "Fox News Watch" --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM, (R), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what I'm talking about.
REP. RON PAUL, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a fake.
MITT ROMNEY, (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can give the answers I want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Republican candidates go at it again, attacking each other and answering questions from CNN. But were the questions geared more to create GOP infighting or help choose the one who will challenge the president?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Only in politics do people root for bad news and they greet bad news so enthusiastically. You pay more. They're licking their chops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Mr. Obama tackles the problem of rising gas prices, blaming the right for all the fuss. But is it time for the media to tackle the president over this issue?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MSNBC GUEST: President Obama has the seed of Islam, I believe is the way he put it.
REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM, SON OF BILLY GRAHAM: Under Islamic law, under Sharia Law, Islam sees him as a son of Islam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Reverend Franklin Graham gets a grilling by the MSNBC hit squad over his opinions of our president's religious beliefs? Was this a media ambush?
PBS airs a documentary about former President Bill Clinton, including the Lewinsky scandal, and the left leaning media cry foul.
And a Fox exclusive, a courageous war correspondent and American hero talks about the risks which ultimately caused her death.
(on camera): On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor, Judy Miller; syndicated columnist, Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor, the American Conservative magazine; and bureau chief of Talk Radio News Service, Ellen Ratner.
I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT & DEBATE MODERATOR: Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?
KING: As you can see --
NEWT GINGRICH, (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first is there's a legitimate question about the power of the government to impose on religion, activities which any religion opposes. That's legitimate.
KING: Sure is.
GINGRICH: But I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide.
GINGRICH: So let's be clear here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Newt Gingrich there, going off on CNN's John King in the debate this week. This time, as you heard a question about birth control: Newt Gingrich has generally done well in these debates, Jim, generally, always invoking some kind of attack on the media. Is it working for him?
JIM PINKERTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Well, it's worked pretty well for him. It doesn't seem to be keeping him in first place or anywhere close, but it certainly has brought up a major dynamic of this presidential contest, and frankly every Republican presidential contest, which is they're the Democrats and media, and they're both kind of ganging up against Republicans most of the time. And a smart Republican will say, look, we'll get to Obama eventually, but right now I've got to deal with this moderator, George Stephanopoulos, John King, whoever, and that gets big applause from the Republican audiences.
SCOTT: Ellen, we're at a time period in this country -- we have tremendous unemployment and soaring deficits, and yet most the questions in that debate were designed to elicit, you know, GOP infighting that had nothing to do with the president and the problems facing the country.
ELLEN RATNER, BUREAU CHIEF, TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE: I'm not sure they should have to do with the president, but they should have to do with the problems facing the country. And I do agree the debates have become a reality show. They've become something that they have this sort of following -- I think they had 4.3 million people watching the debate this week in Arizona. And it's become its own sort of show. But I think that it is time, probably, to quit the debates and really get to issues.
SCOTT: Judy, are you agreeing that 20 debates is enough?
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, no, I still say, I know we're talking about mud wrestling here, people like to talk about that, too, if people find these debates illuminating, if they learn something about the character and views of the candidates -- we're now down to four, so we're finally really getting inside their views and positions, and getting a chance to see who they are. I think, let -- let them go.
SCOTT: there were no questions about gas prices, which peaked above $5 in some parts of Florida, for instance. Is that an issue that the media should be asking about?
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it certainly is. But, look, I think we're all about conflict in the media. We like the conflict. We like the horse race, the idea of getting things settled this far ahead of the convention is really anathema to us, because we like writing about it. We condemn it, but it’s like the old Listerine complex, you hate it, but you use it twice a day.
PINKERTON: But there's this palpable bias. Steve Hayes, the Weekly Standard, had a great tweet about this whole -- said, look, when the contraception issue came up, the Democrats said this was a -- you know, contraception, you know, religious zealotry issue. Republicans said it's a religious freedom issue. And oddly enough, the mainstream media sided with the Democrats on this frame for, yes, it's perfect to have a conflict as long as the issue is just how crazy is Santorum, question mark.
RATNER: I actually felt one of the best commentaries was Michael Scherer at Times, and he did sort after blow by blow for this debate, the Florida debate, and he talked about this long, wild ride. It was a very funny piece. He talked about shedding false tears and all this kind of stuff. I thought he had sort of the funniest, but most coherent analysis.
THOMAS: Well it is amusing to see how the media approach religious. When it favors a liberal agenda, for example, choice on abortion, they're all for it. They welcome religious voices in. But when it has questions about abortion or contraception, then The New York Times can write an editorial about, quote, "Rick Santorum's religious fanaticism." So, it really all depends. When religion serves liberal ends it's OK. When it's against them, it's bad.
SCOTT: Judy, we've seen the candidates do well in the debates. They get positive media coverage and their numbers go up. Who got the positive media coverage this time?
MILLER: Well, I think that the issue, at this point, is who's getting the most privilege, I think, because, at this point the candidates themselves are being heard.
And I have to disagree with you, Cal.
On Rick Santorum, you are hearing views that are so far to the right of where women are and mainstream America is --
THOMAS: Not all women think that way--
MILLER: No, just look at the numbers in terms of the gender gap the CNN poll had, 37 percent of favor him, versus 29 percent of women. The 99 percent of women in this country use contraception.
THOMAS: That's not the issue though, Judy.
MILLER: And they made this -- they made this the issue --
MILLER: And now -- and now you're complaining.
THOMAS: Newt was right. Newt was right in that debate.
MILLER: You're blaming the media for when the public --
THOMAS: No, no. Newt was right in that debate. It's about the government forcing a particular position, in this case, on the Catholic and Evangelicals --
RATNER: I wish that -- I wish actually there had been more coverage of Dr. Paul's comment about, don't blame the pills. I mean, I actually thought he summed it up in a terrific little way.
THOMAS: That's true.
RATNER: It isn't about the pills.
SCOTT: So you'll be contributing to his campaign?
RATNER: I'm not contributing to any presidential candidate.
SCOTT: Just kidding.
Time for a break.
Up next, it was four against one at MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MSNBC HOST: Therefore, by your definition, he's not a Christian.
GRAHAM: Again, you have to ask him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Reverend Franklin Graham gets grilled at MSNBC for his opinions of President Obama and his beliefs. Was this an intended ambush interview of the Christian leader?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He put himself and his presidency in jeopardy in such a careless way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: And PBS airs a documentary about President Clinton, and some on the left call it a liberal spear job. But it was on PBS. Details next, on “News Watch.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MSNBC HOST: Do you believe that Rick Santorum is Christian?
FRANKLIN: Well, I think so.
UNIDENTIFIED MSNBC HOST: So how do you know? If the standard is only the person knows what's within them, would you apply it to the president, why is it different for Rick Santorum?
FRANKLIN: Well, because his values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it. And I just appreciate the moral stand that he takes on these things.
UNIDENTIFIED MSNBC HOST: That's an amazing double standard you just applied. Your reaction says that -- your reaction to the different question about Rick Santorum and President Obama, I think, just exposes an incredible double standard you're applying to those two people. They're exactly the same situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Some of the contentious moments this week when Reverend Frank Graham joined the "Morning Joe" crew on MSNBC.
That was all about, Jim, the questioning about whether Barack Obama is a Christian versus Rick Santorum. Graham said he didn't know about the president. Was this an appropriate line of questioning or just an attack job?
PINKERTON: Well, as Graham said, I Franklin Graham went on the show to talk about the persecution and murder of Christians all across the world, including places like south Sudan, which Ellen Ratner has been an ally of Reverend Graham on this issue, in terms of protecting, you know, mass murderers.
RATNER: On that issue, but not on another issue that he's doing.
PINKERTON: Fair enough. Fair enough.
But the thing is, he was there to talk about people getting murdered and killed and raped, and all MSNBC wanted to talk about was these faith questions, and, admittedly, Graham didn't handle particularly well. But it was definitely an ambush in terms of what he thought he was going on and what ended up being talked about. It was also remarkable how the media jumped on it. The media couldn't care less about persecution of Christians around the world and --
RATNER: Well --
PINKERTON: -- they did rocket to the top with all this stuff on Graham.
RATNER: I agree with Jim, I mean, on that particular issue, that the media doesn't care about persecution of Christians and religious faith, and I certainly see that South Sudan and that's absolutely true.
On the other hand, you know, you have someone like Mediaite that comes and basically said, well, he's using some of the politics. He should've said I'm not going to talk about this. I'm here to talk about this.
SCOTT: All right, Graham has also said that the president has done more for Muslims and Islam than he has in some respects for Christianity. Terrence Jeffrey, on Human Events, said essentially the same thing. The inadvertent burning of the Koran brought a direct apology from the White House where, for instance, the Catholic birth control edict from the Obama administration brought nothing.
RATNER: Our very own Dana Perino did a very similar apology from the White House podium when there were some other kinds of incidents exactly like that under the Bush administration.
SCOTT: But is there a double standard from the White House when it comes to Islam versus Christianity.
THOMAS: There's a -- no, I'm not going to get into that. You talk about a double standard. Let me say two things about this. First of all, there's a double standard when it comes to preachers. You've got Reverend Wright, you’ve got Al Sharpton, you’ve got Jesse Jackson, who would never be questioned about their theology or anybody else's. That's one thing. The other thing, Franklin Graham, is a good man, doing great work around the world, should take a lesson from his father. Every time his father got involved in politics, whether Richard Nixon or whatever, it tainted his primary call. When you come down from the mountain top and you go to the valley of politics, then you've got to expect this kind of stuff.
RATNER: And Chris Matthews says he ain't his father's son.
MILLER: And I think -- I think that's, that captures it. He ain't his father's son and he does use -- twist religion to suit his politics and I think that that has hurt him.
THOMAS: Unlike Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, of course.
MILLER: We're not talking about them. They weren't on TV at that moment.
THOMAS: At that moment.
SCOTT: But, what about the issue that Graham went on air to talk about, I mean, a Christian minister in Iran who has been sentenced to death, and then --
THOMAS: He should have said I didn't come here to talk about that.
MILLER: That's right. That's right, exactly.
THOMAS: That would have changed the dynamic.
RATNER: -- we always tell people to do on talk radio is say, I thought --
PINKERTON: But if he had tied to stick to the message of Christian persecution, it would have been a brief segment and I guarantee even "Fox News Watch" wouldn't be talking about it. We'd be --
SCOTT: All right, interesting.
Time for another break.
Up next, some liberal media outrage against a PBS program. Really?
SCOTT: This week, PBS, the Public Broadcasting System, ran an "American Experience" documentary on former President Bill Clinton. The four-hour program covered everything from foreign affairs to other affairs, including the Lewinsky affair.
A number of liberal commentators, Jim, said it was a liberal smear job. On PBS?
PINKERTON: It happens.
I mean, even the best plans go awry sometimes. Who knew that they'd take an hour out of a four-hour thing to talk about one obviously incredibly tumultuous year of the Clinton presidency? But don't be completely disheartened, liberals, because Robert Rice stuck up for Clinton on the Lewinsky thing, saying, I guess poor Bill Clinton couldn't say no to someone who wanted love. That was his assessment of --
THOMAS: Is that's what it was? Oh.
SCOTT: It seemed like something that deserved to be covered. It led to his impeachment. It was a huge issue for his administration.
MILLER: And it was going on just as the forces of Osama bin Laden were mobilizing to attack this country. And we all and that includes me, were busy covering Monica Lewinsky. It was a huge national distraction, with a great cost to this country. And I think it did deserve to be covered.
SCOTT: National distraction or national embarrassment?
RATNER: Well, you know, it's interesting, I've got to tell you, depending who you looked at, Huffington Post thought it was a smear job. USA Today called it even-handed. And I want to point out one thing, which is that they probably got some money from the corporation for Public Broadcasting, and that is run by the woman who is vice chair of the Republican National Committee in the '90s. So, you know, I'm not so sure at that they're so left wing.
THOMAS: Well, the Clinton camp was upset about it because they're trying to rebuild his image. Esquire Magazine has a fawning piece with a cover picture of him. My favorite cover story this week, I think, setting the record straight, Weekly Standard, "The Big Creep."
I think that kind of gives balance to the whole thing.
RATNER: I love the big creep.
SCOTT: You love the big creep.
I would think that unbalanced, if you only give one hour out after four-hour documentary devoted on the Lewinsky affair, that's not bad.
PINKERTON: I mean --
SCOTT: It basically consumed about a fourth of his presidency--
PINKERTON: Judy touched on it. I mean, if you want to talk about the rise of the Internet -- not that Clinton had anything to do with that, maybe Al Gore, but not Clinton --
But, look, just take this terrorism issue. David Jackson, at USA Today, pointed out, no mention of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Talk about something that was poignant in its premonition of what was to come, that was. That sure was. And I think you could spend four hours talking about counterterrorism just in -- and that would be a more important topic than - -
RATNER: Even on Lewinsky, they didn't interview -- Slate pointed out, they didn't interview Lewinsky because they thought it would be sensational, but they did a whole hour on it.
SCOTT: Well, and there was that cruise missile attack on what turned out to be the aspirin factory in Sudan and so forth, all came as the Lewinsky --
SCOTT: -- was attracting so much attention.
MILLER: Exactly, Jon. And also there were accusations, wag the dog. This is where -- I was covering the president during that period. And what always astonished me was his ability to compartmentalize, to put this aside. I was interviewing him about biological weapons on the night he was being impeached in the Senate, and he never, never broke concentration, which is more than I can say about the media.
THOMAS: Here's the breaking news, Jon, sex sells, even on PBS.
SCOTT: They'll be fishing for --
SCOTT: We have to take one more break.
Up next, a Fox exclusive, Marie Colvin talks about her experience as a war correspondent.
SCOTT: Some very sad news this week in the journalism world. Marie Colvin, an award-winning war correspondent for the Sunday Times of London, was killed by a rocket attack in the besieged city of Homs, Syria. Reports claim Syrian forces may have murdered Colvin after pledging to kill any journalist who set foot on Syrian soil. The 56-year-old reporter died alongside French photographer, Remi Ochlik, on Wednesday morning.
In a career spanning 30 years, she covered wars around the world, was renowned for compassionate clear writing and committed reporting on the realities on those wars, all earning her the respect and admiration of her colleagues.
News Corporation chairman, Rupert Murdoch, wrote, "Marie had fearlessly covered wars across the Middle East, and South Asia. She put her life in danger on many occasions because she was driven by a determination that the misdeeds of tyrants and the suffering of victims did not go unreported."
It was that determination and the passion she had for the stories she told that helped her clearly understand what kind of reporter she wanted to be.
MARIE COLVIN, WAR CORRESPONDENT: I am a war correspondent but more by default because the -- what does happen to people in a situation like that is what interests me. Also, you get sent there because you're -- they know you’re not going to crack up, I suppose.
COLVIN: I think successful war correspondents, is you get there and you just have to be able to deal with absolutely anything and expect anything. If you go into a situation where people are shooting at each other, and increasingly -- and I think that’s the change in covering wars -- increasingly as journalists, you basically have to be ready for anything. And not go in, say, I'm an expert, I know what's going to happen here, because it never -- it never happens the way you think it's going to.
SCOTT (voice-over): Not every reporter has what it takes to cover conflicts. But as Marie Colvin pointed out, reporters, in her view, have a clear duty.
COLVIN: You do get a, probably a certain type of journalist who covers war. I'm that kind of journalist. You are risking -- very often risking your life almost on a day-by-day basis, even somewhere like Baghdad now. A car bomb can go off at any moment.
The duty being to expose what's going on, I don't believe that can ever make anything worse. I believe that it's not even freedom of the press, but the duty of the press to open a situation to scrutiny.
COLVIN: The awful thing is, to a certain extent, personally, I think I should be able to help everybody. I suppose I've had to take a step back and say, you have to report on this situation and get this story out. And the awfulness of many of the situations I've seen people in, still does get to me. But I do take that step back and say, you've got to get this story out.
SCOTT: Marie Colvin put her life on the line to tell the truths about war and the stories of the nameless victims. She was a solid reporter, highly respected and admired by her peers.
COLVIN: I suppose, to look back at it, and say -- I mean, being a war correspondent, it is probably an overused phrase but I’ve never heard a better one. It's rough draft of history that I cared enough to go to these places to try to bear witness and have some kind of -- and write in some way, something that would make someone else care as much about it as I did at the time. That’s a combination of reporting and writing that I would hope that that would come through.
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