• With: Judy Miller, Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Kirsten Powers

    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.



    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.


    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.

    POWERS: Yes.

    SCOTT: He indicated when the story broke that he had been duped by some nefarious people.

    POWERS: Right.

    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?


    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."



    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.


    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.