• With: Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Rick Grenell, Justin Duckham



    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will never find him. He's already disappeared once.


    SCOTT: Part of the trailer for the high tension and controversial film "Zero Dark Thirty," a Hollywood production about the war on terror and the killing of Usama bin Laden. The movie up for the Golden Globe's best film, and getting all kinds of media attention, but when it comes to the real war, not so much. Pew Research polled Americans about what they thought were the top news stories of the year. According to that poll, the top stories of 2012 were the election, the tragic school shooting in Newtown, superstorm Sandy, and gas and oil prices. The war in Afghanistan and U.S. counterterrorism efforts did not even make the top 15.

    Judy, does that surprise you?

    MILLER: It doesn't surprise me, John, it depresses me enormously. This week, the New York Times ran a piece that said that the president was getting a recommendation that we should have 6,000 to 20,000 troops left in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of combat forces in 2014. That piece didn't even make the front page.

    SCOTT: So are Americans losing interest because of the lack of media coverage, or are the media not covering Afghanistan because there's no interest?

    PINKERTON: All I can say is it reminds me of Vietnam. I'm old enough to remember that in the early '70s, and the public and policy makers lost enthusiasm and interest in the war long before the killing stopped, and that's kind of a tragedy that we were sending young men over to Vietnam after the public had turned on to other things.

    I see the same thing happening again. It's very unfortunate and it's certainly a sobering reminder to those who advocate intervention someplace that the public support has to be sustained. If it's not, you have a situation like this.

    SCOTT: This all started with the 9/11 attacks, and this was our response to it. Can the media afford to lose interest?

    DUCKHAM: Absolutely not. And I think the most depressing sign of this disconnect is the fact that so many Americans were really introduced to John Allen, the commander in Afghanistan, via a sex scandal, and not the more distressing information that's coming out, such as the continuing insider attacks and what not.

    SCOTT: Rick?

    GRENELL: Yes, you've got issues like Iraq, which is starting to implode and really moving towards Iran, a better relationship with Iran, and Syria, 60,000 people dead. We have a media, again, that's all political and not substance.

    SCOTT: Up next on "News Watch," Al Gore's new pact with Al Jazeera.



    HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it's real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you are getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news, which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.


    SCOTT: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton there sharing her view of Al Jazeera, the Arabic news channel owned by the country of Qatar. That network referred to as the terrorist network by some critics.

    Well, this week, Al Jazeera made a deal with Al Gore and his partners to buy their CurrenTV. It's their far, far left cable channel that not too many people were watching.

    So Mr. Global Warming, Judy, sells his TV network for a tidy profit, apparently, to an oil producing country. Did anybody in the media note the irony there?

    MILLER: Well, Fox News noted. A number of other people did as well. I just think it's marvelous that Al Gore has managed to take a station that nobody watched and turn it into a cash cow for himself. He has made $100 million off of a station that nobody watched. Now, Al Jazeera is very, very good when it comes to Middle Eastern news, in that they broadcast it, unlike American news stations, as we've been complaining about. But the problem with Al Jazeera is that they are not very good when it comes to looking at corruption, in say, their own country. That's the problem with- -


    PINKERTON: That's why we have to focus on the corruption of, oh, I don't know, a former vice president selling a TV network for way beyond its value to a foreign oil power. And look, I don't want to get Brian Stelter from the New York Times in trouble, but he actually quoted the Fox News opinion headline, "global warming guru Al Gore hypocrite" on CurrenTV. That -- it's so potent, if the media were really doing their job, they would be taking this whole deal apart.

    SCOTT: They say they are going to start Al Jazeera America, that's going to be the new name of the channel. Time Warner, when they found out about this deal, dropped CurrenTV from their line-up. Do they have a chance?

    DUCKHAM: Well, I mean, there is still a stigma of Al Jazeera from back in 2003, but a lot of Americans don't really fear that anymore. Al Jazeera had a moment where they really legitimized themselves in the eyes of the American public, and that was during the Arab spring.

    SCOTT: Here is this quote that I love from the Wall Street Journal, Rick. @glennbeck, formerly of this network, tried to buy CurrenTV. He was rebuffed, the Journal says, because the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us, meaning Al Gore and company, and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view. So how does Al Jazeera fit in there?

    GRENELL: The same thing happened with the sale of Newsweek. And it's this political point that outlets are trying to make.

    I come from this from the standpoint that all media is biased, Al Jazeera included, and you just have to deal with that and try to balance it out. I think Al Jazeera has come a long way and they are doing a much better job today, and you do get great foreign news.

    SCOTT: And of course, the fact that by closing this deal in 2012, Al Gore doesn't have to pay such high capital gains taxes because he got it in before the fiscal cliff deal. That is interesting.

    That is a wrap on "News Watch" for this week. Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Rick Grenell and Justin Duckham. I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for watching. We'll see you again next week.

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