This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," May 26, 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” --
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST OF “THE O'REILLY FACTOR”: In the period from January to April of this year, the three newscasts discussed Romney's wealth 27 times. In the same period, 2004, they discussed Kerry's finances twice.
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SCOTT: -- is there a media double standard when it comes to reporting on the wealth of candidates? And why is this so important?
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CORY BOOKER, (D), MAYOR OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop.
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SCOTT: Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party, takes a shot at the Obama campaign. How did the liberal press react?
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CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST OF “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS”: -- an act of sabotage.
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SCOTT: The polls have him up. The polls have him down. What is behind the poll numbers? And do those numbers reflect a media agenda?
Some big Catholic organizations slap the Obama administration with a lawsuit, accusing it of stomping on our religious freedoms. Did you see this covered in the mainstream press?
The Facebook IPO gets a big buildup, then flops. Did the media overhype and oversell?
Was this man really the most trusted man in America? A new bio raises some big questions.
And who is this man? And why should we thank him?
(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.
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BOOKER: I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it's -- we are getting to a ridiculous point in America. Especially, I know, I live in a state where pension funds and unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality Bain Capital's record, they have done a lot to support businesses and grow businesses. And this to me -- I'm very uncomfortable.
This is nauseating to me on both sides. It is nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop.
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SCOTT: That is Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker on "Meet the Press" making headlines after slamming negatives campaign ads, especially the attacks against Mitt Romney's work with Bain Capital.
His comments seemed real and heartfelt. He ended up retracting them later. One surrogate, Jim, called him the -- or I'm sorry. One Democratic strategist called him the surrogate from hell.
What is going on with Cory Booker and the Democratic Party?
JIM PINKERTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Jon, are you suggesting that the sincerity with which he said the original words was not matched by the sincerity of the retraction? No, I think it's pretty clear, although the Obama administration denied it, that they put the proverbial gun to his head and said, look, if you want to have a future in Democratic politics you better volunteer to do this video --
SCOTT: Well --
PINKERTON: -- retracting what you said two hours earlier.
SCOTT: And is a rising star.
PINKERTON: Former rising star.
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes.
THOMAS: A setting sun.
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Was a rising star. I mean, when you look at the retraction video, which reporters were calling the hostage video --
He has just absolutely --
SCOTT: Later that day, he is on YouTube with a video.
MILLER: But I just found it so bizarre that the person who chastised him was a member of the media. Chris Matthews, who is kind of the disciplinarian of the Democratic Party saying, shocking portrayal, awful. The guy's spoke his -- off the script, he paid a price for it, he will pay a price for it, I think, to Independents. It was music to our ears.
SCOTT: He is a smart guy, Ellen. He says that corporations have done good things for his city. He is very media savvy. Is it possible that the original comment --?
ELLEN RATNER, BUREAU CHIEF, TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE: There certainly was an article that said that he did not do this in a dumb -- this did not come out in slip of the tongue, that it was organized and planned by him to say pretty much what he did say. And that is not terribly surprising. Just as you point out, look, he had -- he did a video with Chris Christie and that was pointed out in one of the pieces. I think that he is not too dumb.
THOMAS: The Washington Post gives Pinocchio’s to politicians who lie. I think Booker should get at least three Diogenes lamps for telling the truth.
Once in a great while -- and this is why this is so attractive -- Once in a great while, a politician will speak what he or she really believes and cut through all of the media hype and spin and TV commercials. It is incredibly refreshing. His star in the media elites may be declining, but among the people who will put him into higher office, I think it could be rising.
MILLER: Can I just raise a question about the premise? Why are Reverend Wright and Bain Capital not fair game? I mean, that is the issue here. Why is Reverend Wright, who went away for a while, but the fact of the matter is his relationship with Obama has never been explain. And why is Bain Capital not an issue when the candidate himself used in his own campaign commercials?
PINKERTON: Let's say for fun that it is an issue, in which case, we can then say, why was it that -- why is it that this Massachusetts political figures with good hair, Mitt Romney --
-- in 2012, did not get anything like the treatment of another Massachusetts political figure with good hair eight years ago, John Kerry? And as Mike Ciandela (ph), at Media Research, the study you cited, 13:1 ratio of more coverage for Romney's wealth than Kerry's wealth, when, in fact, Kerry, through his wife, were probably 10 times --
RATNER: Wait, wait, wait. Jim, Jim Jim, explain --
SCOTT: Let's find out what Ellen has to say.
RATNER: A, it is his wife. And, B, a picture in this media-savvy world of ours is worth a thousand words. And they didn't need to have all those stories. All they needed to do was to show what they did, which is a picture of Senator Kerry doing a sailing thing on a surfboard in Nantucket. And that finished him off.
MILLER: Wind sailing. Wind sailing.
PINKERTON: So you are saying, therefore, that if he hadn't done the wind surfing thing, that they wouldn't cover it. We agree.
RATNER: But they did cover it.
THOMAS: It's not about the money.
THOMAS: It's not about the money. Warren Buffett doesn't get a tax for his wealth because he supports the president's position on higher taxes for the wealthy. Same with John Kerry, even though he moored his yacht in Rhode Island to avoid paying higher taxes --
-- which the media didn't really go after. The conservative media did, but the mainstream didn't, pointing out the hypocrisy of that. So it's about what political position you take not how much money you have.
SCOTT: For those who didn't understand what Ellen is talking about, The Media Research Center, a conservative-leaning organization, did a study of mentions of John Kerry's wealth on the evening news, the big three evening news broadcasts back in 2004. He got two mentions from CBS and ABC, one each. NBC didn't mention it at all. Contrast that with stories about Mitt Romney's wealth during the same three-month period in the current 2012 environment, he got mentioned 27 times.
Bill O'Reilly asked ABC's David Westin about it.
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DAVID WESTIN, PRESIDENT OF NEWSRIGHT & FORMER PRESIDENT, ABC: What I am saying is, right now, I think many Americans are worried about their economic situation. They are worried about their jobs, their houses, their children, their 401Ks and things like that. That was not true in 2012
O'REILLY: So you see that it's economically driven.
WESTIN: Well --
O'REILLY: I don't see it that way at all.
WESTIN: Well, no, it's also driven by the opponent. The Obama campaign is pushing this story very, very hard. And --
O'REILLY: But certainly, the media is picking up on that.
SCOTT: Former president, I should have said, of ABC, David Westin.
So what about that? It is not fair game to ask about John Kerry's wealth when you're --
MILLER: I think it is fair game. And I think that David Westin was right in the sense that, in 2004, the issue was not really the economy, because people may forget the economy was doing better then. But also the issue then was the Iraq war. When the media focus on an issue, they tend to focus on it in droves. And that's what's happened.
PINKERTON: For example, the 44 stories in The New York Times on the front page about Abu Ghraib back in 2004. What was hilarious about the interview with O'Reilly and Westin was the was Westin would deny the media, the liberal media -- here's a guy who hired George Stephanopoulos, but then he'd say things like, well, we fought against liberal bias every day or we made progress. Which, again, obviously, plants the assumption that -- of course, everybody knows that ABC was liberal and Westin was completely unsuccessful in --
THOMAS: Asking -- asking --
THOMAS: Wait a minute.
Asking a network news president if they are biased is like asking a drunk if he can hold his liquor.
Come on. That is just not right.
RATNER: But he did say -- but -- what happened is he did say, look, bias is not just how things are done. We also tried to expand who was there in terms of race, color, et cetera, et cetera. So he said that, too.
SCOTT: All right, we have to take a quick break.
Up next, do the media care about freedom of religion in this country?
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CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: This isn't a fight that we asked for.
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ANNOUNCER: The nation's top Catholic organizations fighting President Obama's administration over their breach of the First Amendment, eliminating our freedom of religion. Big news, but the media don't seem to care. Why?
And he was labeled the most trusted man in America but a new biography pops that balloon. Details next, on “News Watch.”
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CARDINAL DOLAN: They said, and, oh, by the way, we will define what a church is. We'll tell you what you can and can't do. We will set the parameters as to how you can minister, to whom you can minister, and the motives that should direct your ministry. That is the character, that's tone of these straight-jacketing exemptions. So we said from the beginning, Mr. President, just eliminate that definition of religion that seems to be very intrusive, very radical, very unprecedented and rather un-American. If you could just eliminate that attempt by a bureau of the federal government to define religion, we will be -- we will step back.
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SCOTT: Cardinal Timothy Dolan there, commenting on why top Catholic leaders and organizations are suing the Obama administration for stepping on their religious freedoms.
On the day that, I think, 43 of them joined in filing the lawsuits, Jim, this got no mention on ABC or NBC evening news programs. It got 20 seconds on CBS. Why?
PINKERTON: I think it might be liberal bias. But Brent Bozell, again, of the Media Research Center, said it was, quote, "The worst bias by omission" -- that is, not covering it -- "I have seen in 25 years at the MRC," which is a quite statement.
SCOTT: It is a pretty monumental lawsuit, Judy.
MILLER: It is really important. And it was covered in the print media, though not on broadcast. It is true, because NBC was busy covering the really important news of the day, which was the lunar are eclipse.
MILLER: Now, look, of course there is bias, or there is the feeling, oh, we know this, we have covered this story before. We know that the Catholic Church has problems with this portion of what Obama is trying to do, so it is old news. Either way, it should have been covered.
SCOTT: And when they cover it, Ellen, they are often describing it as a -- a battle over contraception. It's really not. Isn't it a battle over freedom of religion in this country?
RATNER: Well, it depends on how you see whether it's a battle of freedom of religion. I don't tend to see it that way.
But to go back to the coverage, they did say, and it was pointed out that Susan B. Komen big crisis hit the airwaves and hit the newspapers in a huge way and this one didn't. However, when I really looked at the coverage of this, I did not see any analyst is terms of -- there is more than one lawsuit. There's several lawsuits that hit at the same time. And whether these have a possibility of success and how. I didn't see any analysis of that.
THOMAS: The media for years have suffered from a religion deficit disorder. They just don't get the subject. They don't like the subject. So when they deal with the Catholic Church, it's about pedophile priests and those liberal Catholics who support same-sex marriage and abortion.
But Cardinal Dolan is absolutely right on this. And you suggested it as well, Jon, it your intro -- this is not about contraceptive or some of these other things. This is about the federal government's right to define what the church is. The HHS Department wants to define this issue as a church being people who meet on a Sunday morning in a building, not the Catholic hospitals, not Notre Dame University or other Catholic universities. That's what this issue is really all about. But the media would rather portray it as one something else.
PINKERTON: And I think the media blackout on this story, like we're saying here, reminds me a lot of the way the media handled the apportion issue, Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade, in 1973, and it was at least until Reagan was elected in 1980, in part, on a right-to-life plank, that the media said, gee, maybe there is something going on here that we have never heard about in our Upper Westside cocktail parties that we better start covering. So I think it might be a few years, including perhaps the '12 elections, before the media has to really say, gee, maybe the Catholics had a point.
MILLER: One of the people who -- institutes that brought the suit was Notre Dame, which gave Barack Obama an honorary degree in 2009. So we've come a long way, baby, or haven't.
SCOTT: The semantics are interesting here, too. NPR, in one of its stories, said that the religious groups complained about the exemption. They could have said they object to it, they really hate it, but they complained about it.
RATNER: Well, they were apparently, according to many in the news reports, in negotiations with the White House and with the administration, and they felt like those negotiations weren't going anywhere, which is why they brought the suits.
SCOTT: And there was this gem of a quote from Chris Matthews on MSNBC. It says, "Do you think they're all Republicans, the bishops"?
THOMAS: When I heard that, I felt a thrill up my leg.
SCOTT: All right.
More “News Watch” ahead.
You can't top Cal.
RATNER: No, you can't.
SCOTT: If you see something that you feel shows evidence of media bias, e-mail us at newswatch@FOXnews.com
Up next, Walter Cronkite and some questions of ethics.
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WALTER CRONKITE, FORMER NEWS ANCHOR: And that's the way it is.
ANNOUNCER: He was America's most-trusted newsman, but new details about Walter Cronkite paints a much different picture.
And the Facebook IPO comes and goes, then keeps going -- down. Did the media uber-hype blur the dismal outlook? Answers next, on “News Watch.”
SCOTT: "Cronkite," a new biography of the most trusted man in America reveals that maybe he shouldn't have been. Here is a sample from what Howard Kurtz wrote for Newsweek. He said, "In reading this first major biography of Cronkite, I came to realize that the man who once dominated television journalism was more complicated and occasionally more unethical than the legend that surrounds him. If Cronkite had engaged in some of the same questionable conduct today -- he secretly bugged a committee room at the 1952 GOP convention -- he would have been bashed by the blogs, pilloried by the pundits, and quite possibly ousted by his employer."
MILLER: I think that is right. Amazing how over time the standards change. And by the way, what is considered fair game changes. You know, Dick Salant, who was then the president of CBS News -- this is what surprised me -- knew about all of this unethical behavior and did nothing about it, because Cronkite was just too powerful and he didn't want to disturb the brand. I mean, I found the Kurtz review and the information itself rather interesting.
PINKERTON: Or maybe it is OK to do it if it is for a good cause like Adelaide Stevenson or John Kennedy or Eugene McCarthy or George McGovern. That's another possibility.
MILLER: You couldn't do that today. Come on, Jim.
SCOTT: Was it a simpler time in America, Cal, when people would sort of accept spoon-fed news from a guy without questioning an agenda?
THOMAS: Yes, well, there were only three networks then and really only two powerful ones. ABC was kind of a backwater.
Look, it's dangerous -- it is like trying to compare an athlete from today with one of 40 years ago. You can't apply the standards of today, I think, to the 1950s. It was a different time. And a lot of these journalists came out of a rough-and-tumble print journalism where all kinds of things were tolerated.
Read Mike Royko, the old columnist for one of Chicago's big papers in his book, "Boss." Some of -- he get -- he would pick up tips at bars from nefarious sources and things, and then go on and write about it. So I think, look, Walter Cronkite was a great journalist. Was he is a liberal? Absolutely. It came out to People for the American Way thing. Nobody was in doubt about that. I think you want to debate the politics as one thing. Journalistic ethics, something else.
SCOTT: What does this do to his legacy?
RATNER: Well, I don't know what it does to his legacy, but do I agree with Cal that --
SCOTT: What? Could this --
THOMAS: She's coming my way.
RATNER: It's a mixed thing. In the olden days, there was a bar at the press secretary's office at the White House. And after hours, they all used to go this there and drink and have a good time. Can you imagine that happening today? It was very a different time. And it is hard to judge Walter Cronkite in today's times.
SCOTT: Let's turn our attention to another big media story of the week. It was the big news last week, the day that Facebook went public, selling more than 450 million shares. And then, this week, it was big news again as that stock fumbled and tumbled, and calls for investigations and lawsuits drowned out the cheers that were ringing out on the day of the company's initial public offering.
Did the media have a role to play in all of this, Jim?
PINKERTON: Well, I think Facebook has had a pretty good run for eight years in term of buzz and so on, and now the media are reversing course on them. This whole business with whether Morgan Stanley alerted certain investors and not others investors is kind of astonishing and potentially criminal. And I think the media are in a feeding frenzy now on this.
SCOTT: Well, now they are, but it seemed like the media did a lot of cheerleading ahead -- ahead of the initial public offering.
MILLER: It seemed to be an irresistible story. The young guy, still in his hood or hoodie --
-- you know, taking this company from nothing to everything. The greatest, biggest, most successful. I suppose some reporters played into that. But it was the -- it was very soon after that that people began asking questions about Facebook. And I think the stories about whether or not it was overvalued occurred almost immediately.
RATNER: But they didn't occur before. And Simon Lack (ph) did talk about a stock for those who were -- would not want to be distracted by financial statements if they only earned a billion. But the other issue is, you know, we get vacation-buying guides of where to go on vacation. Why don't we get a guide on this?
SCOTT: Up next, the man who has helped you tune in to Fox News channel.
SCOTT: Think about all the inventions that have really truly changed how we live our lives -- the Internet, cell phones, electricity, the fork. What one device is so essential to daily living that, if misplaced, it ignites a panicked search to find it? We're talking about the TV remote. Eugene Polley, the inventor of the first wireless TV remote, died this week. He was 96.
Debuted in 1965, the Flash-matic was shaped like a gun. It fired light signals to Zenith televisions. The ads read, "Just think, without budging from your chair, you can turn your new Zenith Flash-matic set on, off, or change channels. You can even shut off annoying commercials while the picture remains on the screen." Back in that day, the Flash-matic was considered a luxury.
Today, with hundreds of cable channels to surf through, the remote is really a necessity. Polley's invention made the TV audience less captive, though also less active, giving birth to a new group of humans called couch potatoes.
Polley, proud of his invention. In 2002, he told an interviewer, quote, "That the flush toilet may have been the most civilized invention ever devised, but remote control is the next most important. It's almost as important as sex."
And that's a wrap for “News Watch” for this week.
Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Ellen Ratner.
I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for watching. And don't touch that remote.
Please remember our troops this holiday weekend, all of those that have given their lives for this great nation as we mark Memorial Day.
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