• With: Judy Miller, Monica Crowley, Jim Pinkerton, Ellen Ratner

    PINKERTON: Right. And Jim Geraghty at the National Review said that Piers Morgan picked him well, because so say, Jones comes on a little strong for me.

    MILLER: Do you think?


    PINKERTON: For mainstream. In other words, Morgan has given himself a little signature on this issue, and he's riding it hard and he sort of mocking the U.S. Constitution as he does so, but one point on what Judy said about executive orders, Rush Limbaugh made a great point. He says, listen, it's entirely possible the Obama administration will do something for gun control background checks by executive order and it's entirely possible the mainstream media will say well, that's terrific, that's exactly what we need. And Limbaugh said, look, imagine if it's been Bush 43 doing this on abortion. What would the reaction then be? It would be completely different. This is a -- usurpation of executive -- of congressional power and blah-blah-blah.

    SCOTT: This is one of those weeks when we need more time for a topic like this. But next on "News Watch," Mr. Obama's cabinet pick is getting some interesting media attention.


    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama out to rebuild his Cabinet. His choices a bit controversial. Has the press already passed on his picks or is there a battle ahead? Answer is next on "News Watch."


    SCOTT: Mr. Obama working to rebuild his Cabinet. Earlier in the week, naming former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his nominee to be Defense Secretary and John Brennan as his pick to become the new CIA director.

    Then on Thursday, naming his chief of staff, Jack Lew as his nominee to become the next Treasury Secretary. The president's pick is getting all sorts of media attention from all sides. Conservative media groups in particular, Jim, seem to have issues with Chuck Hagel, the liberal media seems to have issues with Brennan to run ...

    PINKERTON: And then there's issue of Jack Lew's signature ...


    PINKERTON: Everybody has -- everybody has an issue with. I mean -- yeah, I mean, look on the Hagel thing, we're having all the issues about the Iraq war and Israel lobby and all the other things that Hagel has brought up. We've got another drama within a drama there, which is, you know, Chuck Schumer (inaudible). I mean, you know, Chuck Schumer is a Democratic senator from New York, Jewish, and is seen as a decisive vote as it were inside the Senate, because Republicans mostly oppose Hagel, and question where the Democrats go and they could be following Schumer's lead, and I think he's going to enjoy this drama for as long as he can and get on TV a lot saying I'm deciding, I'm deciding, I'm deciding, and well, we see what he has in the end. I bet in the end they both --

    SCOTT: How would you assess the coverage of, you know, the president picking this former Republican senator to be his defense secretary?

    MILLER: Well, I think a couple of mostly conservative commentators have said, why would you pick someone who has such tense relations with Republicans? I mean most Republicans don't see Chuck Hagel as a stand-up guy anymore. So, I think Jonah Goldberg said the reason he's there, is that they're asking Republican, nominal Republican to cut the defense budget, that's an unpopular thing to do in Republican circles and that's why he's there.

    SCOTT: Has the politics of this choice been examined? I mean it seems to me that if you want to fracture the Republican Senate in the way that you fractured the Republican House with the fiscal cliff vote, maybe you pick a Chuck Hagel.

    RATNER: Well, you know, it's interesting, because Slate's folks took a look and they were -- went after sort of Bill Kristol, and what -- why he's doing this, and I mean I almost felt that whole thing was kind of manufactured.

    SCOTT: All right.

    CROWLEY: It is -- it is an interesting pick, though, because, as you say, this would be typically Obama's emote to choose the Republican that he can get with to try to break apart the Republicans in the Congress. But the problem with Hagel is, he doesn't really have any Senate allies on either side. He was a very prickly guy when he was in there, so he has no natural allies. What's interesting, which I don't think has really been covered, is the fact he was picked because he ended up opposing the Iraq war. He voted for it, but then he turned on it. The opposition to the Iraq war is the reason Barack Obama is president. Remember, it's the reason he beat Hillary Clinton in the primaries, it's the reason he's president. That's why Hagel is there, in addition to his very deep support for very deep military cuts, which is what he's going to be testing ...

    RATNER: The press did cover a couple of his no votes on sanctions, but they did not cover all of his votes and his voting record. I found that kind of interesting.

    PINKERTON: We'll get to Brennan and torture next week.

    MILLER: Right.

    SCOTT: What about this photo that ran in "The New York Times," it was I guess taken in December, and it ran with an article that said "Obama's remade inner circle has an all-male look so far." The White House released this photo, also, on Tuesday. Why has that become an issue, Jim?

    PINKERTON: Well, because the feminists, the National Organization for Women, for example, are leading a little petition drive now against this. I don't think this is going to be the most effective campaign ever. Not as if Obama's credentials as a liberal are in disrepair. This is called (inaudible) a tempest within a teapot, one of the many little subplots of this whole ...

    CROWLEY: And by the way, to be fair to the president, he actually has a lot of very strong women around him. His top two advisers are his wife Michelle and Valerie Garrett. He's appointed two females to the Supreme Court and he's got a number of very strong women in his Cabinet. At least in his first term, Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, Lisa Jackson.

    SCOTT: OK, so you're defending the president and -- and -- she's giving me some kind of a look like ...

    RATNER: I would like -- his record on women is better than President Bush, but no better than President Clinton, I would have liked to see -- I want to see ...

    CROWLEY: How about -- how about a meritocracy? Where it's the best person for the job ...


    RATNER: But I also would like to see the press take a look at who he has appointed and what's happened to them.

    SCOTT: And as Jim says -- no, Charles Krauthammer, I'm sorry, Charles Krauthammer says "the binders full of women" came up empty at the White House.


    SCOTT: Next on "News Watch," flak over the bin Laden photos and the film about bin Laden's death.


    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Zero Dark Thirty" opens nationwide with questionable torture scenes and concerns over access to CIA secrets. Does the Hollywood production mislead the audience? Do the media care? That's next on "News Watch."



    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're right, the whole world's going to win in on this.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll never find him.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's one of the disappeared ones.