DUCKHAM: I think Bush did do that to John Kerry in 2004. We saw a lot of ads that question whether Democrats would have been on the offensive. We saw that famous ad, which is now a famous part of political lore. And I think we are too quick to subscribe the Afghanistan trip to solely politics. If the media had been doing its attention and not focusing solely on the campaign, more Americans would know we are at a pivotal point in Afghanistan right now. We are about a month away from the NATO meeting. That trip happened on the same day where a new report, really detailed progress that was happening right now. And I think it is not fair to say the American president can't --
LOWRY: Well, it's true the agreement -- there's no doubt the agreement is important, but it just happened they took a pen and randomly stuck it on a calendar date that happened to be the day that bin Laden died, and they had no awareness that this ad was taking credit for the death of bin Laden, would be running right before hand? That takes incredible naiveté to believe all those things.
GREENE: But like you said, it was brilliant media management. But at the end of the day, going back to 2004, not only did the Bush campaign do the same thing; Vice President Cheney said if John Kerry was elected, we would be attacked. He said it would make it worse, that they would come after us in a much harder way. This is, I think, a perfect example where you are watching the media hold this president to a different standard than they ever did for George W. Bush.
GREENE: And it is unusual for him -- it's unusual for him to pat himself on the back.
That's a --
LOWRY: -- compare himself to Lincoln.
Look, President Obama had 9/11 footage in one of campaign ads and there was a huge uproar over it, so the idea there is a different standard --
SCOTT: We're going to have to --
SCOTT: We will get into this more in the next block. Does anyone think the war on terror is over?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We broke the Taliban's momentum. We devastated al Qaeda's leadership. The goal I set to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild is now within our reach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The president paints a positive picture in Afghanistan. And a nameless government official claims the war on terror is over. Could that be true? And are the news media buying it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm suspending the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Newt Gingrich finally throws in the towel, making his exit from the GOP race. Did the media let him going quietly? Details next, on “News Watch.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: I am certain of one thing; we are at war against a terrorist organization called al Qaeda that brutally murdered thousands of Americans -- men, women and children -- as well as thousands of other innocent people around the world. In recent years, with the help of targeted strikes, we have turned al Qaeda into a shadow of what it once was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's John Brennan, the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, sounding like he is saying there still is a war on terror.
Rich, this came up because a senior State Department official told the National Journal that after the Arab Spring uprisings and the defeat of al Qaeda, the war on terror is essentially over. So what is the media do with that?
LOWRY: There's quite a disconnect. You had the anonymous comment at the same time you had other counterterrorism officials saying; watch out, there could be a retaliatory strike on the anniversary of bin Laden's death.
Jon, what I am struck by, I think, from the perspective of history, when everyone looks back at this era, it will see a much more bipartisan effort, the war on terror, than it seems to any of us caught up in the day- to-day debates. There's been different emphases between the two administrations, but the basic thrust of it, that it is a war that you have to win on the ground, that you have to kill a lot of people has held true through both administrations.
SCOTT: How are the media treating this notion, though, that the war on terror, according to some parts of the administration, is over?
GREENE: Are we talking about a slogan, the war on terror, or what has come from the administration that we are at war with al Qaeda? We are now even more focused on being at war with al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula.
I think it's astounding to many people to have this conversation and parse about these words when, at the end of the day, the administration has been very clear about who our enemy is, who attacked us on 9/11, and approaching this in a more strategic and specific direction. Slogans don't matter, whether it's the war on terror or the war against al Qaeda.
SCOTT: There is a Rasmussen poll just out that asked people whether they thought the war on terror was over. 11 percent said "yes," and 79 percent said "no."
In the world of polling, Justin, you don't often see results like that.
DUCKHAM: That's true, and they shouldn't think it's over. And no one really is seriously saying it is over. We're just seeing a change in optics. We're seeing it go from the usual hallmarks of the war on terror, which were boots on the background and a land invasion, and now we are seeing a sleeker, easier form of germ (ph) warfare.
PINKERTON: Somebody in the Obama administration seems to think it is over, according to the National Journal. That quote, and the reason why it resonated, is there are three different strains of thinking in the Obama administration. One is there is a politically correct thought process that Secretary Napolitano, on the record, said, it is an overseas contingency operation, no long this war on -- so that sounds like disaster relief. And second, the Obama administration is not interested in the liberation and transformation of the Middle East the way the Bush administration was. And the third point is they want to pivot back to domestic policy. They want to declare as much of as -- to be over as possible so they can get back to the domestic economy. So that is what I think, quote, "shocks" the people because it does speak to where their mindset is.
SCOTT: Some of the documents released from bin Laden's lair suggested that even he was concerned about his media image. He was thinking about changing the name of the group, al Qaeda, and he was chastising those who had killed too many Muslims in al Qaeda's name.
And, then, this, American al Qaeda spokesman, Adam Gadahn, discussed al Qaeda's media strategy and said, "In general, and no matter what material we send, I suggest we should distribute it to more than one channel so there will be healthy competition between the channels in broadcasting the material so that no other channel takes the lead. It should be sent, for example, to ABC, CBS, and NBC, and CNN and maybe even PBS and the Voice for America. As for Fox News, let her die in anger."