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This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," January 19, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON SCOTT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: On "Fox News Watch."
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There will be pundits and politicians publicly warning of a tyrannical all out assault on liberty, because they want to gin up fear.
SCOTT: President Obama pushing his gun control agenda with emotion and children on stage. Did the media question his actions or buy into the theatrics?
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Surely, finding Osama bin Laden, surely passing civil rights legislation, surely, defeating the Nazis was a much more formidable task than taking on the gun lobby.
SCOTT: America's great gun debate: liberal media giving the topic lots of attention. But is the debate one-sided?
MANTI TE'O, FORMER NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL PLAYER: I've seen the most beautiful girl I've ever met. She was just that person that I turn to.
SCOTT: A tear jerking story that got big attention in the media. Even more when it turned out to be a hoax. How did reporters miss this one?
The Washington Post makes news caught in another plagiarism scandal. Mr. Obama holds his last news conference of his first term and takes a shot at the conservative media for all the anger in Washington.
And on the topic of doping, Lance comes clean on Oprah, will it help his cause or her floundering career?
OPRAH WINFREY: So here we are in Austin, Texas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor, Judy Miller, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor of The American Conservative Magazine and Daily Beast columnist Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott, "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This will be difficult. There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists, publicly warning of a tyrannical all-out assault on liberty, not because that's true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves and behind the scenes they'll do everything they can to block any common sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: President Obama on Wednesday flanked by his vice-president and four children with their parents, pushing his agenda on gun control, taking a swipe at his opponents and the media in lockstep with his efforts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIEFFER: Surely, finding Osama bin Laden, surely passing civil rights legislation as Lyndon Johnson was able to do and before that, surely defeating the Nazis was a much more formidable task than taking on the gun lobby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: So if we can defeat the Germans in World War II, I guess the NRA is supposed to be easy - that's what he's saying, comparing the two.
JIM PINKERTON, THE AMERCAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Right, I mean he's giving himself a little bit of -- for that, a little bit of wiggle room. No, I didn't exactly compare the NRA to the Nazis, I sort of threw them in the same spot and let the - let the people on the audience sort it out. What we're sure to see, is an all-out assault on gun owners, on opponents of gun control and on the language itself when you see words like Nazis being thrown around. George Orwell, back in 1946, in a famous essay, said, the word fascism should only be used for people in Hitler-- and Mussolini and so on and not just thrown around so much all the time. That was 1946, 70 years later we're still doing as much as ever.
SCOTT: Do you see it a different way, though, Judy?
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, not really, I mean I do think that Schieffer was kind of very close to the line of advocacy as opposed to reading the news and being straight about a news story. I do think that even though there was no direct comparison, there's clearly an inference that the NRA is the equivalent to the Nazis and I do think it raises questions about whether or not he wasn't just a little bit too opinionated.
SCOTT: Is - the president said that there would be outrageous claims ginning up fear among gun owners?
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY & DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: Yeah.
SCOTT: Or among the population.
POWERS: Well, I do think that a lot of people - I mean speaking of Nazis, a lot of people, these gun rights people think that Obama is like the next Hitler and they need to have their guns to protect themselves from his tyranny. So people throw the world around all the time. And I frankly - I can't stand this P.C. stuff, it drives me crazy. I mean Seinfeld had the Soup Nazi, it used to be - used to be able to say it, and now suddenly when you say it everybody thinks that you, you know comparing them to, you know, to gassing people and murdering 6 million Jews. I think that what Bob Schieffer's point was is that if we can overcome such huge things, certainly, Obama should be able to stand up to the NRA. I mean the NRA owns Congress ...
SCOTT: The NRA is a (inaudible).
POWERS: What does it matter? He also run up the Civil Rights Act, he said if you could pass the Civil Rights Act, surely you could - you can stand up to the NRA. I don't think he was comparing anybody to Hitler. I think any more than he was comparing them to passing the civil rights legislation.
This is difficult things, difficult thing, but this is actually less difficult than these things over here.
SCOTT: There was a lot of polling out this week, Cal, not often noticed among it was the Gallup poll that shows public approval of the NRA at 54 percent, approval of the president at 53 percent.
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yeah. Well, the problem, Jon, is that the media always turned to government as a first resource instead of a last resort. We have more laws on the books regarding guns than ever now, especially in Chicago where over 500 people were murdered in 2012. Why isn't the president out there in Chicago? The answer is not more legislation, the answer lies in the home, fatherless children, all kinds of other things, but the media lacking a demon right now, because there's no leading Republican they can turn into the devil, are now going after the NRA. They never talk about the law abiding citizens of this country who are not breaking the law and the fact that the more laws you pass are not going to cause people who want to break the law to suddenly become law abiding.
SCOTT: What about the theatrics at that news conference, putting those kids on the stage behind him. Rich Lowry, who is an occasional guest on this program wrote in the National Review, "Barack Obama set a new standard Wednesday for stupidly exploitative White House events."
MILLER: I think that's really an unfair criticism. It was children who were killed at Sandy Hook, and it was children who had written to the president saying this is what we can do, can you do something? It was an emotional pitch, yes, it was, against an organization that as Kirsten says owns the Congress and I think it's fair game.
SCOTT: The L.A. Times, Jim called the president's production, "big, bold and brassy."
PINKERTON: Right. And, of course, if it had been under Reagan or Bush 41 or 43, they would have called it Deaver-esque, as in Mike Deaver, you know, they would have called it "a showbiz Hollywood." Instead, it was -- it was praise. I mean look, the showmanship and pageantry are part of television, including television news, so we can't complain about it too much, but it's situational when it's good when Democrats do it and bad when Republicans do it.
SCOTT: And then there was the NRA ad that came out this week, and the - it blasts NBC News anchor David Gregory as being sort of an elitist and a hypocrite. What do you think about that?
POWERS: Well, I mean, the ad, I think, probably -- they're trying to take this approach, I guess, where they are saying that they think anybody who wants to have gun laws is an elitist, and it's just as false paradigm that the NRA is setting up. And then they need a new PR director, just for starters, because they're not really doing a good job communicating their view. It's not elitism. People have different views about guns and people have different views of whether you need to have a weapon that can fire 60 rounds in a minute or not. And whatever you call it. You know, getting the terminology just right isn't the point. The point is, there are a lot of Americans who think you don't need to have that.
SCOTT: All right. Next on "News Watch," some big time failings of the news media on display.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TE'O: I've seen the most beautiful girl I have ever met. Not because of her physical beauty, but the beauty of her character and who she is. She was just that person that I turned to and even though she was fighting leukemia and you know, fighting the various things she always found time to serve someone else and her biggest thing to me was always be, always be humble, always be humble and keep God as my number one closest friend and as long as I strive to honor him, I'll be honoring her. And her whole thing was not about herself, and that's why we were so close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Oh, boy, Notre Dame's star linebacker Manti Te'o talking about his dead girlfriend. The inspirational story got all kinds of media attention, his performance on the field along with the incredible personal story getting him on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as well as high profile coverage from other media outlets. But all that attention changed in tone once the Website Deadspin revealed the girlfriend never existed. The whole story was a hoax. So, did the mainstream media fail here, Judy?
MILLER: I'm sorry, but this falls into, I know the journalism lesson is if your mother says she loves you, check it out. But you really would have to be an awfully skeptical person to assume that this man's girlfriend did not exist. I mean it just - I don't think it would occur to a lot of editors to ask their reporters, is this so.
SCOTT: You're a reporter for a long time, did the press get bamboozled here?
THOMAS: Well, I do want to confess to my long-standing relationship with Tinker Bell. I never said that before. But, yeah, look, it's called a telephone, you pick it up, you call if the person is in the hospital, you may call the P.R. person, do you have somebody who is a patient in your hospital, by this name or can I talk to her - I'm the whatever, you look at the obit page, if they've died. There are all kinds of ways to check out this information. It's another one of those too good to be true things.
SCOTT: Well, isn't that part of what happened here? The media wanted to believe the story?
POWERS: I'm sure they did. As you think, basic ask for an obituary and I think - I'm surprised they didn't ask a for a picture of the two of them together. If you're going to run a story about something like this, you would - I think you would ask for a picture of the two of them together. And I noticed he said in that interview, when we met. Which he's also said in interviews, he described how he met her, so I'm not even buying the fact that he's been duped.
SCOTT: Right, because it's been unclear about that.
SCOTT: He indicated when the story broke that he had been duped by some nefarious people.
SCOTT: Here is the way The New York Times put it. "I could never imagine in editing such a story," this is from Joe, Sexton - "I can never imagine in editing in such a story with the reference existing as they did, asking the reporters, did you know for a fact his grandmother is dead? Do you know for a fact his girlfriend is dead? Do you know for a fact his grandmother existed? Do you know for a fact his girlfriend ever existed? And any editor who tells you they would have - or should have asked those questions is kidding you. Also, Frank Shorr, a sports and journalism expert, said nobody who is she - where did she live, not one reporter dug deep -- the lack of leg work is a total surprise to me. How about you, Jim Pinkerton?
PINKERTON: Well, having seen the press adoration - adulation for Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods, you can see that not only is the press kind of credulous, and they say in journalism the sorry is too good to check, but it's also a machine of getting money and wealth. I mean not only do people get rich endorsing things as athletes, but the reporters who are experts on them get rich being expert commentators on the person. So, the last thing that the people do in their profile in Sports Illustrated wanted to do, was tear this guy down. They wanted to build him up, because they would - when he went up, they would have gone with him.
POWERS: I'm sorry. I just - it's like - I have to totally disagree. At "USA Today" we have fact checkers, I mean when I write a column, there is a fact checker, a person who goes through my column and asks me, I have to footnote everything that I say, there is just no way on earth I could just say somebody has died without any sort of ...
SCOTT: But they did it with Sports Illustrated. That' seems pretty clear.
PINKERTON: So USA Today makes better standards than Sports Illustrated.
POWERS: (inaudible), that nobody would ask those questions. It's just wrong.
THOMAS: Well, one of the speculation was that staffs are being cut back all over the country, there are not enough people. But I can't - if you've got one person in an office that can pick up the telephone and fact check.
PINKERTON: Also Google.
SCOTT: And speaking of fact checking, The Washington Post got caught in a bit of plagiarism this week, a reporter named William Booth, is that, do I have the name right? William Booth admitted lifting some sentences from an academic journal. Judy?
MILLER: I think that in an era of cut and paste journalism where we often times do our research, we don't have those researchers anymore, we do our own, and you take material from one journal and put it on the screen, you sometimes forget to attribute. I want to give the reporter the benefit of the doubt on this one.
PINKERTON: I agree with that.
THOMAS: And The Post did apologize, we should know.
SCOTT: Next on "News Watch," what did we learn from the president's news conference this week?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Obama gives the press another chance to ask tough questions, did they hit him hard? And inauguration day is here, will the media love fest continue? That's next on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GARRETT, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What Chuck and I and I think many people are curious about is this new adamant desire on your part not to negotiate when that seems to conflict with the entire history in the modern era of American presidents and the debt ceiling and your own history in the debt ceiling and doesn't that suggest that we're going to go into a default situation, because no one is talking to each other about how to resolve this?
OBAMA: Well, no, Major, I think if you look at the history, getting votes for the debt ceiling is always difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: President Obama, a little testy there answering a question from CBS News White House correspondent Major Garrett, formerly of this network. It was Mr. Obama's final news conference of his first term. So, what did you think, Judy, about the questions that the president received? Only seven of them for a news conference. The answers went on very long.
MILLER: You might even say, stonewalling answers, each answer was roughly the equivalent of about seven and a half minutes. No wonder there's no time for follow-ups. Look, the White House press corps, how many times do we have to talk about it? Other than Major Garrett, whom it was nice to see there, even Jake Tapper said, oh, well, yes, Major always asks good questions, just when he was at Fox we didn't call on him very much. That's what this is about. The White House press corps has to be more skeptical.
THOMAS: Let me make another point here. A partially, a technical point.
But one of the ways he filibusters or runs out the clock, is that they changed the way they used the microphones at this news conferences, there used to be shotgun mics, I mean the mic would pick up any question anywhere in the room. Now they've got this - this thing that they just pass down the aisle, it looks like some kind of high school deal and then you don't get the follow-up. So, two or three follow-up questions that you never heard - you only heard the president's answers. What's with that?
SCOTT: Eric Ostermeier, to go to your point, Judy, at the University of Minnesota put together a piece called "Fox Still Shunned" at Obama press conferences, "A smart politics analysis, he writes, finds that ABC reporters have been called on the most frequently during Barack Obama's solo news conferences, followed by CBS, the Associated Press and NBC. With Fox News coming in at a distant ninth in less than half of the rate of the top outlets, less than 40 percent of the press conferences overall. Why does the president not like to call on us?
POWERS: Because he doesn't want to be embarrassed, really. Because when
he's asked a question, the same way, you know, when Ed Henry asks questions in the - Jay Carney, inevitably Jay Carney ends up looking stupid because they don't - he doesn't know how to answer the question, he's used to pushing people around and you know, that it will be tenacious, they'll get asked about something he doesn't want to get asked about and he wants softballs.
SCOTT: After that - after that press conference, sorry to interrupt you, but after that press conferences The Washington Post gave Mr. Obama a rare upside down Pinocchio ...
PINKERTON: Major league flip-flop, right ...
PINKERTON: And that was a brave voice, and that's again, if you have to deal with those kind of criticisms either from the liberal mainstream media then of course the answers are going to be seven or eight minutes long, because you just don't want to get very many questions, and yet, as Fred Barnes wrote in The Weekly Standard, you know, you can get a four year press honeymoon and now it looks like it's been an eight year press honeymoon.
SCOTT: And we've got the inauguration coming on Monday, Judy is rolling her eyes even as I phrase the question. How is that going to be covered?
Can you see the headlines now?
MILLER: I think we're going to have more of the same. I mean I think what disturbs some of us is the double standard, is the - if this president does something, if he kills people from 300 feet with a drone, if he draws up lists of Americans who can be killed, it's fine, nobody says anything. If George Bush did it, the world would be coming to an end.
PINKERTON: Absolutely, waterboarding was evil, killing them is OK.
SCOTT: (inaudible) funding of your presidential inauguration. Next on NEWS WATCH, do big public apologies really make a difference?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: Yes or no, in all seven of your Tour de France victories did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Ending decades of deception and denial Lance Armstrong coming clean to Oprah Winfrey admitting the doping using banned performance enhancers to win competitions at all costs. His public admission following other high profile admissions, Tiger Woods going in front of the cameras, telling the world about his sex addiction. He returned to golf still making millions, NFL quarterback Michael Vick, publicly apologizing for his mistreatment of dogs. Vick returned to play in the NFL after some jail time also making millions. Actor turned the California governor are airing out his dirty laundry admitting to infidelity and fathering a child with one of his workers, he is back making movies now and hoping to make millions. And who can forget Bill Clinton apologizing for misleading the American people admitting to his encounters with Monica Lewinsky. And now, propping up the Democratic Party making lots of appearances and making millions. So what about Lance Armstrong? Does it - is it all rosie for him now?
PINKERTON: No, I mean he sort of proved he was a sociopath thing, so that I looked up cheating in the dictionary and I wasn't cheating. I mean exactly cheating - but hats off to Oprah, she clearly has responded her own criticism being too soft, that was a good tough interview, boom, boom boom, yes or no. Yes or no. No, exactly what Armstrong wasn't expecting and he clearly wasn't ready.
THOMAS: Well, I think Lance Armstrong has exceeded his confess by date.
By then it was so obvious what he had done and he'd be like Jodie Foster coming out on the Golden Globes and acknowledging she is a lesbian, oh wait, that is what happened.
SCOTT: So, who does this benefit more, though, Oprah or Lance?
PINKERTON: Or Lance.
SCOTT: All right. He's done - Gore Vidal said we're the United States of amnesia, Americans are a forgiving type. Are we going to forgive and forget?
POWERS: I don't - you know, I don't know I feel like part of the problem with Lance Armstrong is just the vehement denials and accusations against other people and for some reason I think that that crosses the line a little bit with people.
PINKERTON: And lots of lawsuits. All the people he defamed are going to come back at him with lawsuits. He's got $100 million, that is a deep pocket for somebody.
MILLER: And the interview was just weird. This is what he said, of a critic's wife, oh, I called her a liar but I didn't call her fat.
PINKERTON: Let's go on to the next clip.
THOMAS: Oprah loved that one.
SCOTT: And he talked about that generation as though it was some long ago era.
SCOTT: It was bizarre.
THOMAS: Don't forget before they forgive. People don't care. They move on to the next thing. Let's find out what Kim Kardashian is doing. That's more important.
SCOTT: Oh, please.
And that's a wrap on "News Watch" this week. Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Kirsten Powers. I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for watching. We'll see you again next week.
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