This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," June 30, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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JON SCOTT, HOST OF "FOX NEWS WATCH": On "Fox News Watch"
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The highest court in the land has now spoken.
SCOTT: The Supreme Court hands down a landmark decision on ObamaCare. Democrats and the liberal media celebrate the court's decision that the law stands. Are they also celebrating the finding that the individual mandate is a tax? And proof of a real media double standard. Chief Justice John Roberts, cast as a conservative patsy before the decision, then called a bold defiant hero after his key swing vote to uphold the law. How will his decision affect coverage of the court?
The mainstream media chalk up the decision as a campaign season victory for the president. Some see it as a win-win for Romney and the GOP. How will news coverage of the Supreme decision affect the 2012 election?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, HOUSE SPEAKER: The only recourse left for the House is to continue seeking the truth and to hold Attorney General in contempt of Congress.
SCOTT: In another historic vote, Congress sanctions Attorney General Eric Holder, finding him in contempt of Congress for withholding key documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal. Have the media shown any real interest or are they parroting the liberal line that this is a politically motivated move?
America's trust in TV news has dropped. Any surprise there? And in a very public and uncomfortable way, NBC dumps Ann Curry from the "Today" anchor seat.
ANN CURRY, FORMER TODAY SHOW HOST: This is not easy to say, but today is going to be my last morning as a regular co-host of "Today."
SCOTT: On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller. Richard Grenell, spokesman for the last four U.S. ambassadors to the U.N. Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor, the American Conservative magazine. And Daily Beast columnist Kirsten Powers. I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
DIANE SAWYER, ANCHOR, "ABC WORLD NEWS": This is a day for the history books. The U.S. Supreme Court has said the Obama health care law is constitutional, and therefore, the law of the land.
SCOTT PELLEY, ANCHOR, "CBS EVENING NEWS": Tonight, health care reform is the law of the land.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": It was the most important single effort of the Obama administration, and today, it became the most important Supreme Court decision of the past several years.
BRET BAIER, HOST OF "SPECIAL REPORT": The Supreme Court's ruling on ObamaCare. President Obama's signature legislative achievement, his health care law, survived today.
SCOTT: TV news coverage there of the Supreme Court's historic health care ruling, and here some of the newspaper headlines. From the L.A. Times, 'Health care law stands, Robert sides with liberal justices in a major victory for Obama.' From the Washington Post, 'Health care law upheld, Roberts joins liberal wing of court, says mandate is a tax.' From the Chicago Tribune, 'Landmark decision upholds health care law, Roberts casts surprise swing vote.' And from the New York Times, 'Justices by 5-4 uphold health care law, Roberts in majority. Victory for Obama.'
So, Jim, what about the headlines? Do they tell the whole story here?
JIM PINKERTON, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Well, they tell us that Justice Roberts is growing in the eyes of the media. Years ago some wise guy in D.C. coined the phrase greenhouse effect to describe the process by which the New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse was -- encouraged courts and Supreme Court to move to the left in her direction, and sure enough, the Washington Post on Friday, had a nice puffy picture of John Roberts, who just a week ago was a right-wing goon, and now he is on his way to the full Earl Warrenization.
SCOTT: Before the decision, Chris Matthews on MSNBC, Judy, said that John Roberts could be compared to a Civil War era Supreme Court judge who upheld the Dred Scott slave act. And then the same Chris Matthews after this vote praises Roberts as bold, defiant, and a hero who upheld ObamaCare.
JUDY MILLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I'm beginning to feel that thrill up my thigh. And look, here the bias, so obvious. Chief Justice Roberts agrees with the liberals and upholds the president's signature legislation and suddenly he's a hero, but that's not the way the legal media are covering it. The legal media see his reasoning as specious and his about-face as, well, an about-face. And Jeffrey Smith on -- a legal scholar who was a First Amendment scholar, Jeff Stone (ph), forgive me, said, you know, Justice Ginsburg took him apart and called his reasoning horrible broccoli, or broccoli horrible.
I think that ultimately, when people step back and look at what he has done, a great many media analysts are now going to have to focus on the fact that he switched rationales to do a very political thing. He did not want the Supreme Court to knock down this signature piece of legislation.
SCOTT: But some conservative media say he just narrowly reads the Constitution and said that, essentially, if the Congress and the administration want to pass bad law, it's not up to the Supreme Court to fix it.
KIRSTEN POWERS, DAILY BEAST: Well, movement conservatives are very, very angry. There are actually very few conservatives that are coming to his defense, only a couple that I can think of. So, you know, but in terms of the media coverage, I think that TV clips you showed were very accurate. This is historic; this is a victory for Obama on the substance. The political issue is a different thing. If you look at the newspaper headlines, I think there's a bias, there is a clear bias, actually, because it's not really true that he sided with the liberals. He ruled with them, but his reasoning was completely different than theirs.
SCOTT: So how was he treated by conservative press, in particular, Rick?
RICHARD GRENELL, FORMER SPOKESMAN, FOUR AMBASSADORS TO U.N.: I think the conservative press clearly gets the politics of this. Justice Roberts gave Obama a win on the legal grounds, but he really saddled him with a terrible scarlet T, if you will. It's now -- he has to go into the campaign season with the label of a taxer, and I think the conservative media gets that. They would much rather have the political win than this legal win, and I think that it's going to be reflected as the Romney campaign speaks out, but the press missed that. They only focused on the legal aspect, even though in the lead-up all we heard was the political aspects of Judge Roberts and what his court was going to mean politically, because he was, as Jim says, a conservative goon up until that decision.
SCOTT: And then from NBC's David Gregory, we have this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, NBC: Health care reform was passed, on a party line vote. What happens if it is struck down in part or in whole by a 5-4 decision? Would that not underscore how dysfunctional our government is, the major institutions of our governments are? That is a real nightmare scenario I think for the political class in this country.
He has spoken publicly about how on big controversial decisions, he thinks a 5-4 majority on the court over time undermines the Supreme Court, and only fuels the view that our major political institutions are too polarized. He's taken a big step here. He's going to be cheered for that by some on the right and the left, criticized I'm sure as well by some of the right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: So we got a 5-4 decision and the liberal media seem to love it.
MILLER: Of course, because the liberal media love it. But that's-- this is what we're not hearing yet, that's the political impact of this decision. It's going to be huge, I think. I'm a little surprised that Romney did not take advantage of the moment. He did talk about the elements of-- that he would have in his plan. He said he was going to repeal it, the next, the first day in office, and David Frum wrote, good luck with that.
SCOTT: What about the opinion some in the media have expressed that this could be a win-win for Mitt Romney?
PINKERTON: Well, as Kirsten and Rick both alluded to, you know, columnists who are pretty influential, like Charles Krauthammer and George Will both sort of made the arguments that, look, Roberts has now declared this to be the giant, biggest tax increase in the history of the universe, and Obama has to wear it. And as a lot of observers noted, the polls show by about a 15 or 20 point margin the people of America still oppose ObamaCare as a thing. And if the next four months Obama's defending it, that's a negative for him.
SCOTT: So, how does this change the way the media cover the race for president, Kirsten?
POWERS: You see, I'm actually more in the camp of it being upheld was the best case scenario for him. Everyone has a different position on this, they think if it would have been good if it were struck down, because then he wouldn't have to defend it. But health care was going to be part of the debate. It's not actually something most people are voting on. According to Gallup, only 6 percent of people name it even as a top issue. But it was still going to be a part of the debate. There's no way Obama can get away from his central issue, and the media, look, are on his side, on this for the most part, and saying that you know, and they're going to say now that it's constitutional, game over.
SCOTT: All right. Up next, another historic moment for the media this week. .
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., MINORITY LEADER: This is no accident. It is no coincidence; it is a plan on the part of the Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats and the liberal press ignore the facts, as Congress moves forward with contempt charges against Attorney General Holder. Can the media afford to ignore the outcome? And when it comes to trust in the media, how do Americans vote? Answer is next on "News Watch."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Another historic moment. The House of Representatives has voted to hold the Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Holder is now the first sitting cabinet member to be held in contempt of Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Fox News anchor Bret Baier on Thursday reporting the breaking news that the House of Representatives voted to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, for refusing to turn over documents relating to the Fast and Furious scandal. Here is Holder's reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today's vote may make for good political theater in the minds of some, but it is at base both a crass effort and a grave disservice to the American people. They expect and they deserve far more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That story, Richard, got not much press, because it came in the shadow of the health care ruling on Thursday. Did it get the coverage it deserves?
GRENELL: You know, I don't even think it got the coverage it deserved in the lead-up. Whether or not you think this was a witch hunt or a legitimate inquiry, wherever you find yourself on the political spectrum, there is no denying the fact that DOJ and the attorney general stonewalled and gave erroneous information. That alone should push coverage from the liberal media. USA Today put this on 5A. It's really outrageous that the first time the attorney general or a cabinet secretary is put through this process and the media doesn't cover it.
SCOTT: Kirsten, liberals and Democrats have said, oh, this was a partisan witch hunt, but there were 17 Democrats who voted in favor of the contempt citation.
POWERS: Yes, but that's a minority. I mean, overall, I think I'm sure there were people who were in difficult races, and maybe a couple of people actually legitimately did it on principle.
SCOTT: But it was far from being a party line vote.
POWERS: This is a partisan investigation. I think what Rich was talking about was important, and that should have been covered, and they did submit a letter that wasn't true and they said it came from ATF, and then they clarified it. A lot has happened since then, and the Republicans continue to pretend that we don't know what happened when we do know exactly what happened. Of course, this needed to be investigated. Somebody died. It's been investigated. We know they had a bad gun walking operation where they lost guns. Right now they're going after Holder. That's the partisan aspect of this.
SCOTT: Jim, what about that? Congress wants to see the documents, Holder says no. Should the media be pushing him to release?
PINKERTON: As you quote me all the time saying, information wants to be free, and oddly enough now the Justice Department doesn't seem to accept that.
What is amusing is the increasing spin, oh, this is the NRA, it's a plot against the National Rifle Association. And the New York Times to contribute to this, referred to the Gun Owners of America, a smaller group as a quote, more strident than the NRA. Which means that the NRA is in their mind strident, and this is the kind of word they wouldn't use on their own pet groups like NARAL or Planned Parenthood.
SCOTT: And then there's Al Sharpton, the MSNBC anchor and liberal activist who keeps singing a familiar tune. Listen.
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AL SHARPTON, MSNBC: This reckless and morally reprehensible act that is being proposed on Thursday is certainly engineered and motivated by politics and not law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Well, Judy, is he alone in that feeling?
MILLER: Well, he is predictable, that is for sure, whether it's Trayvon Martin or Eric Holder. And even though he says he didn't think this was happening because Eric Holder is black, he says it has a racial effect. Exactly what the racial effect is, I don't know, but you know, I think the timing was unfortunate for the Republicans because it looked political, whether or not it was political.
SCOTT: What about the theater of all the Democrats-- well, I guess more than 100 Democrats walked out of the House and walked straight to the microphones, Richard. Was that -- did that in effect dilute some of the importance of the story?
GRENELL: Absolutely. I think it did, and I think the media jumped on that as a -- as a way to show that this was partisan. When you have all these Democrats walking out, it's a partisan theater. And they immediately jumped on that, but we cannot forget the fact that the media has not gone after the White House's role in whether or not there's a political cover-up on these e-mails. The media are not pushing this narrative. Why did the White House have to protect the e-mail chains? Nobody knows, and the media's not going after those issues.
SCOTT: Yes, we've got a dead law enforcement agent; we've got guns being allowed to go across the border to Mexican criminal gangs. It seems like there are some very important issues here, Kirsten, that the media ought to be pushing for answers about, and the Justice Department won't release the documents.
POWERS: I agree they should have been covering this, but gun-walking is actually a very common law enforcement tactic. I know it sounds totally crazy to us, but it's something that police departments do, it's something that the ATF was doing long before Barack Obama was ever on the scene.
What happened in this situation was incompetence, and they lost the guns. This has all come out if you've been following this issue. There's no question about it. The DOJ apologized for it, they shut down the program, they appointed an investigation.
So you know, I think the media should have been following this back when all this was happening. At this point, I think it's-- I think it's totally partisan. I think, you know, they invoked executive privilege is because they say its deliberative documents, and that's their -- I don't agree with it, I don't think they should have done it, but that is their privilege.
SCOTT: We have more "News Watch" to come. But first, if you see something that you feel shows evidence of media bias, e-mail us at newswatch@Foxnews.com.
Up next, your trust in TV news is just not what it used to be.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes to covering key issues, do Americans have trust in the news media? And NBC dumped Ann Curry from "Today." Was it bad ratings or bad politics at the peacock network? Details next on "News Watch."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: A recent Gallup poll has some bad news for television news producers. America's confidence in what they do is dropping. According to Gallup, public confidence in the military ranks highest among many categories, according to the Confidence in Institution survey that Gallup takes. Newspapers have fallen to 25 percent approval rating. Television news has fallen to 21 percent. That's a record low, and just 8 points higher than people hold Congress in regard. Jim, what do you make of that?
PINKERTON: Well, I am old enough to remember when this whole fight about media bias began, and that was a woman named Edith Efron, back in 1971, wrote a book called "The News Twisters," and she couldn't get it published anywhere. Some obscure little publisher put it out. And then of course it was an attack on CBS News, and then she followed up a year later with a book called "How CBS Tried to Kill a Book," about that. This was -- she was a brave figure. She passed away in 2001. She deserves to be remembered for beginning this whole debate, and now the data speak for themselves.
SCOTT: So, is television news getting that much less reliable, Judy, or are people just taking out, I don't know, their frustrations or something?
MILLER: I think it's getting that much more partisan. And I think that's what people in part are reacting to. They yearn for this supposedly golden era of Walter Cronkite, which we now know, according to new books, is not quite so golden as it seemed. But people want something that no longer exists. They're not happy with what they're getting. They don't quite know why, so they lose confidence in the institutions.
SCOTT: There was a poll out from George Washington University. They took a survey of congressional staff members, and found that 95 percent of those staff members believe political bias in the media influences or shapes decision making in Congress. 75 percent of Republicans think -- think news bias influences Congress a lot. Democrats, 53 percent. Why the disparity in numbers there, Richard?
GRENELL: Honestly, I'm not sure. And no, I think the simple fact is that it's the truth. There's no question. I worked on the Hill, and when you see something, whether it's in your local paper or in a national paper, it has an effect, and it has an effect because Congress has to raise money every two years. They're pushing for these issues, and it's a fast paced environment.
SCOTT: Up next, we'll talk about Ann Curry, who takes on a new role at NBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURRY: This is not easy to say, but today is going to be my last morning as the regular co-host of "Today." I'll still be a part of the "Today Show" family, but I'm going to have a new title and a new role. And this is not how I expected to ever leave this couch after 15 years, but I am so grateful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's Ann Curry saying goodbye to her gig on NBC's "Today," getting choked up over her departure. They say she'll still be at the network covering the world's biggest stories and producing network specials. All that may be tough, though, considering the very public manner in which she was pushed out of the co-anchor chair, the same chair held by the likes of Jane Pauley and Katie Couric. The move by peacock execs seemed akin to the abrupt cut of Keith Olbermann rather than a trusted member of the NBC family, something noted by others in the media. From New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter, "Ann Curry's name is trending, and so is Matt Lauer's. Many of the tweets blame Matt for her ouster."
CBS White House correspondent Mark Miller (ph). "Best wishes to Ann Curry. Don't feel bad. You're in good company. Ousted morning TV people could fill Yankee Stadium with CBS people alone."
And from the Huffington Post, "Ann Curry's "Today" tenure comes to an end. Meredith Vieira got a two-hour farewell. Curry was given five minutes after 15 years on the show."
That's a wrap on "News Watch" for this week. Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Richard Grenell and Kirsten Powers. I'm Jon Scott. We'll see you again next week.
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