• With: Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Kirsten Powers, Monica Crowley, Richard Grenell

    BREAM (voice-over): Media watchers, including Fox's John Stossel, point out that conversations like that one aren't necessarily rare.

    JOHN STOSSEL, HOST OF "STOSSEL": Yes. They have a limited time with the president, with the candidate, and they want to make sure that they get an answer to this question. So they do a little coordination.

    BREAM (voice-over): In the end rather than being pressed for details about who was or wasn't guarding the consulate in Benghazi or why he elected not to cancel a fundraiser Wednesday night in Las Vegas, the president, in a sit-down interview, was asked about and given the chance to criticize Romney.

    BENEDETTO: It couldn't play better for the president, because it takes a lot of heat off of him. He's the president; he's the one whose policies are -- be under question right now. And much of the heat is being taken off of him.


    BREAM: Seven of the eight questions Romney took from reporters Wednesday were about his statement rather than the events in Libya and Egypt.

    After the president gave his statement at the White House, he took no questions.

    For "News Watch," I'm Shannon Bream in Washington.

    SCOTT: All right. So Shannon raises a number of questions there about the events of the week and the coverage of it. We'll get to some of them here in this program.

    Jim, first of all, the president, other than his sit-down with "60 Minutes" and Telemundo, he hasn't answered questions from the media about all of these terrible events of this week, why not?

    JIM PINKERTON, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Well, he's chosen not to, I mean, and in many ways, probably wisely so. The situation is so fluid.

    But look, as Richard Benedetto, who covered the White House when I was in the Bush 41 administration, said, look, this is playing to the president's advantage, like -- and here's how. There's many stories the press could be talking about. They could be talking about Libya and the death of Ambassador Stevens, and it's not that they're ignoring that.

    They could be talking about Egypt and the tick-tock about the tweets and who said what and discipline, the chain of command and so on.

    Talk about the Arab Spring; is it really the Arab Winter? They could be talking about the global village, and Peggy Noonan wrote a column about how one guy, who's setting off a movie can cause a chain of events around the world.

    Or they can choose to see this through the prism of the presidential campaign and take one statement from Mitt Romney and turn that into, as best they could, the week's news, until by probably Friday, the story had gotten so serious that they had to realize now, the real issue is the Middle East.

    And the chances that anybody in the Middle East is listening to Mitt Romney are zero. Nobody sacking the U.S. embassy is getting upset because Mitt Romney said something on Wednesday.

    SCOTT: That raises, that is the question, Judy, I mean, that's been the story of the week, is what did Mitt Romney say and when did he say it, when nobody's asking about, you know, why were we not prepared for attacks on our embassies on 9/11, for instance?

    JUDY MILLER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That is clearly a question that should have been addressed that has been under covered, along with other issues, such as how is it possible that a junior public affairs officer, someone who is reporting to the ambassador in Egypt, who was not in Egypt, but was in Washington, did not clear a statement that had tremendous -- caused tremendous controversy.

    What about the movie? Is there a movie that caused this whole ruckus, supposedly? We don't know that it did yet. There are so many facts that are yet to be determined that to turn this into political fodder is just missing the story.

    SCOTT: Ric, you had an article in The Daily Beast, and before we get into this, we should point out that you served on the Romney foreign policy advisement team for a time earlier in his campaign.

    But you said, why is it OK for the secretary of state to condemn the Cairo statement, the Cairo Embassy tweet as ineffective, but it's not OK for Mitt Romney to do the same?

    RICHARD GRENELL, AMERICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT AND MEDIA COMMENTATOR: Yeah I find it really puzzling. I worked at the State Department for eight years in the Bush administration. I know what it's like to serve in a diplomatic post and try to get Washington to approve something, takes a very long time.

    And I think that's the frustration here for me, is that why are we critiquing when Mitt Romney spoke or the timing and whether it was too early?

    I think the simple fact is the president of the United States waited 15 hours while a developing situation took hold and became more violent.

    Why aren't we asking where the president was during those 15 hours? If I was out in Embassy Cairo dealing with all of this, as it was unfolding, I want the president of the United States to start condemning this violence. The president's first statements were to condemn Mitt Romney and I think that's just not right.

    SCOTT: And the press seemed to echo that and the question is, you know, was that the appropriate response of the media, given what happened? The former secretary of defense under George W. Bush came to Romney's defense.

    Here was this tweet from Donald Rumsfeld, "The attacks on our embassies and diplomats are a result of perceived American weakness. Mitt Romney is right to point that out."

    Is anyone in the media saying that, Monica?

    MONICA CROWLEY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: No, but this is exactly the point. Mitt Romney is running not just to be president, but to be commander in chief, so he was perfectly within his rights to say what he said, being critical of the president's response.

    But the bigger point is that we do have a sitting commander in chief right now and this is about his policies that, in large part, not totally, but in large part, have led to this Islamist mess.

    And instead, we have a press, an elite press corps that is obsessed with two things: one, the horse race, so they always try to squeeze these things into a political narrative a lot of times when it doesn't exist or shouldn't exist; and number two, they're in full protect-Obama mode and that's what you saw this week.

    What is going on in the Middle East, what's happening in Washington right now, under this president? This is not about Mitt Romney; this is about Barack Obama, and those questions have not been raised.

    SCOTT: Talking about diplomacy by Twitter. Take a look at these tweets and then the articles that came after.

    Mark Halperin tweeted, "Unless Mitt Romney has gamed the crisis out in some manner completely invisible to the Gang of 500, doubling down is the most craven and ill-advised move of '12."

    And this appeared on Time's website; it looks very similar -- you can read it yourself. Unless the Romney campaign has gamed out the crisis and so on.

    Howard Kurtz tweeted, "Did Mitt Romney pull the trigger too soon on statement ripping administration over the Libyan Consulate killings?"

    And then this headline in The Daily Beast, "Mitt Romney's Ill-Timed Assault on President Obama as Americans are Killed Abroad."

    And then L.A. Times' James Rainey tweeted, "Cockeyed Mitt Romney takes Libya tragedy and finds a way to side with moronic pastor Terry Jones."

    Then came this headline in the L.A. Times, "Mitt Romney should triple down on Libya: Rally with Reverend Jones!"

    So are the tweets sort of influencing the way this gets covered, the narrative of all this?