SCOTT: Well, on the Republican side, though, Jim, it is often the case that the media go after Republican candidates?
JIM PINKERTON, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Right, and that is why Gingrich was so effective in pivoting off, for example, Juan, because the real issue of those debates, all 20 of them or whatever there were, is never what Rick Perry said to Herman Cain or vice versa, it's what they say to the public and gets through.
Gingrich showed a real situational awareness, saying look, the people on this stage are small potatoes compared to the audience out there, and if I can have a chance to clobber a reporter, I'll take it. For example, on the other side, in the Paul Ryan debate with Biden in October, he just simply thought, well, I'm here to debate Biden, so he'd answer the questions, even though it was obviously biased against him, and never once did he turn to the audience and said, look, folks, here is more media bias. If you wonder why Republicans have a hard time, it's because it's the Democrats and the mainstream media against us Republicans. The audience would have loved it, because even independents would agree, yes, it's sort of obvious by now that the media are biased against the Republicans.
SCOTT: All those debates, Judy, so many of them, and did they illuminate
the process, the presidential campaign?
JUDITH MILLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think they did. First of all, they were clearly catnip for reporters. I mean, there were thousands of reporters. It was amazing that anything else got covered, given how many reporters were there. But when you have that many debates, you got to see these candidates, and it was a wide range of candidates, really demonstrating a capability or lack of capability to kind of field complex issues. And the voters made up their minds. You saw one media promoted figure after another fall after he couldn't -- or she couldn't quite stand the scrutiny that came upon a front-runner.
SCOTT: The Obama campaign made clear attempts to try to sort of demonize Mitt Romney early. They settled on him as their eventual challenger, did the negative advertising early. But the media as well, there was the Newsweek cover poking fun I guess you would say at Mitt Romney's Mormonism, for instance.
RICHARD GRENELL, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR U.N. AMBASSADORS: And you know, for Republicans, media bias is a target rich environment. We're constantly up against the fact that they are trying to define us as something that we are not. And I think the Mormonism issue was front and center early on. And I think the Romney campaign did a good job of trying to downplay that.
Now, certain members of the media were nervous about bringing it up, although some of the social media types and bloggers were constantly trying to make this an issue, and it was picked up in the mainstream media by some.
SCOTT: What about we got to the actual conventions, when Mitt Romney got nominated, when Barack Obama got re-nominated, what about the coverage? Was it fair?
WILLIAMS: I think when I look back at the coverage of the Republican convention in particular, I think there was an effort to be fair, but then I think they fell off an edge, and I think the edge in part was Clint Eastwood and that now famous chair, the empty chair, if you recall. I think that suddenly somehow a Hollywood actor, who was brought in I think because remember, he had done the ad during the Super Bowl that seemed to be pro Obama, but here he is endorsing the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney -- suddenly that became bigger than anything that Mitt Romney did. I think that is the most memorable event, according to the American media, from a convention, when I believe not only did Mitt Romney stand out but also Paul Ryan, and several Hispanics, by the way, did an excellent job of presenting a conservative reason to oust President Obama.
SCOTT: Seems like nobody remembers the big flap at the Democratic Convention over whether or not God was going to be on the platform. That kind of thing. The Clint Eastwood moment got all of the attention.
PINKERTON: You are right, but there is a certain rule here, and Republicans just have to learn it. If the whole essence of a convention is a tightly choreographed event, then you tightly choreograph it. And you put things to help you better -- for example, Rubio was terrific, and those videos of the families that Romney helped, those were very moving, and nobody saw them because they were in the wrong hour, in the middle of tight choreography don't say to Clint Eastwood, you just go out and wing it now. That was not smart. And there has been a considerable little cottage industry of finger pointing back and forth about whose idea that was to have him out there. Most of the loyal campaign aides, I mean that as a joke, around Romney, are blaming Romney himself.
MILLER: I was struck by Tom Hamburger's piece in the Washington Post that called the Romney campaign, "campaign malpractice." There were so many mistakes that it became obvious to the press. And the Republicans kept saying, oh, this is an evidence of media bias, but in fact, it was just a badly run campaign, and that became very, very clear, and the voters showed us it was clear.
SCOTT: And then we got to the debates, when the media seemed to have their thumb on one side. Of course, there is that memorable moment when CNN's Candy Crowley gave the president a little bit of a lift. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Get the transcript.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN: He did in fact, sir. So let me -- did call it an act of terror.
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror. It did, as well, take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: This after the president had done so poorly in the first debate in Denver. Did that salvage the race for him?
PINKERTON: It probably did, or certainly helped. Look, again, this is where Romney had to say, look, folks, what you just saw was my opponent, Barack Obama, and my other opponent, Candy Crowley, teaming up against me. And if he'd done that, everybody would have gotten it. Instead, Romney sort of -- it's an unbelievably hard situation to do this on live TV in front of 100 million people, but then again, you need that gift of situational awareness to do what Gingrich could do in the primaries.
WILLIAMS: You know, one quick mention here. And I think it is worthy of our discussion here at year's end, which is that Twitter and social media played a bigger role in the election and media coverage than ever before. And that if you were following conservative blogs, conservative websites, conservative media, you really had a different view of this election and different view of the debates. The debates, for example, the first debate that is so famous, I think turned on the fact that so many people were involved in real-time in scoring that debate as opposed to--
GRENELL: And pressuring the mainstream reporters.
SCOTT: One of the big stories of the year, that's for sure.
Next on "News Watch," pollapalooza and political gaffes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
OBAMA: You didn't build that.
ROMNEY: They brought us whole binders full of women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Political gaffes got tweeted, blogged and reported as game changers by the press. But were these true verbal errors or made up missteps by the media? Find out next on "News Watch."
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
OBAMA: -- invest in roads and bridges. If you got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen.
ROMNEY: I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor, we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich. They're doing just fine.
BIDEN: He is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They are going to put y'all back in chains.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)