This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," February 9, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, HOST: On "Fox News Watch."
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise.
SCOTT: The White House goes on the defense, supporting the government's right to be judge, juror and executioner, using drones to take out al Qaeda terrorists, including Americans who are an imminent threat. How did the media react to this news? Did the press ignore the hypocrisy?
The biased coverage of America's gun debate ramped up, and the president takes his pitch to the public. Are the agenda-driven media misleading Americans? A Democratic senator fires back at the mainstream media, accusing the press of buying into a fake story from a right-wing website. Is he correct or is this story fair game?
And have the liberal media gone overboard criticizing Chris Christie for being overweight?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: Basically, the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life.
SCOTT: On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller. Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas. Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor to the American Conservative magazine, and Ellen Ratner, bureau chief of Talk Radio News Service.
I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: NBC News has obtained a government document that lays out the legal argument to justify the president's use of drones to kill al Qaeda suspects, including in some cases U.S. citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's NBC News earlier this week, reporting details of a confidential 16-page memo outlining the legal justifications for the Obama administration's unprecedented use of targeted drone strikes against Al Qaeda suspects in foreign nations, including American citizens who pose an imminent threat. The White House went on the defense following that report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to be clear, this is giving legal justification for killing American citizens without any trial whatsoever, without any evidence.
CARNEY: Again, I would point you to the -- I would point you to the ample judicial precedent for the idea that someone who takes up arms against the United States in a war against the United States is an enemy, and, therefore, could be targeted accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: All right, Jim, so what about the hypocrisy here? Do you see any?
JIM PINKERTON, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: You might be thinking for example of David Jackson's piece in USA Today, which was headlined, "what if this was Bush's drone policy?" And then he said, look, you go through rendition and Guantanamo and waterboarding, all the things that happened in the Bush administration, where the mainstream media were all fired up. And now they have been sort of quiet. You leave it now to folks like Jon Stewart of Comedy Central to say, you know, the Obama people said that we would be fully transparent. What they didn't tell you was they'd be fully transparent about the Bush administration, not their own administration.
SCOTT: Ellen, surely, a reliable liberal like you sees it differently.
ELLEN RATNER, TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE: Not at all. It is shocking to me -- if this had been George Bush 43 or 41, the liberal press would have had it front page of the newspapers. They have been hitting at him all the time. As a real lib, I'm shocked that they haven't gone after him.
SCOTT: The numbers, Judy, really tell the story. There was so much ink spilled about waterboarding and the horrors thereof. Three people were waterboarded?
JUDITH MILLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and we have now killed more American citizens with drones than were waterboarded, at least as far as we know. We have killed four American citizens with the drones.
But look at the overall number of attacks. There have been 400 of these drone attacks, most of them under the Obama administration, with absolutely no transparency. This has killed roughly 3,000 people, and according to the Stanford University report that was just issued, some 800 of them may be civilians, including women and children. And it is finally, finally time that Congress, the Senate this week finally stopped being brain-dead and started challenging this administration on its patently absurd explanation for how this is legal, ethical and wise. I think that at this point, we're going to have the kind of debate that we've not had because Barack Obama has been doing it.
SCOTT: So for America's most liberal president to be conducting this campaign, it must have been tough for the liberal press to cover?
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, they're coming after the fact, or in this case, after the election. You are now starting to see some criticism ratcheted up by the likes of the far-left Mother Jones magazine, and even the New York Times editorial wrote this, this week, which is shocking. "It brought back," said the Times writer, "unwelcome memories of memos written by President George W. Bush, for him to justify illegal wiretapping, indefinite detention, kidnapping, abuse and torture."
Now, when the New York Times is starting to compare the Obama administration to George W. Bush, this is a significant shift.
SCOTT: Ellen, all right, Ellen, go ahead.
RATNER: Well, the other thing is even the Nation's Greg Mitchell did not make the issue about the drones and the drone base in Saudi Arabia as much of an issue, which I thought he should have, particularly because 9/11 was supposedly, at least according to some of the terrorists, because we had bases in Saudi Arabia. That whole thing was totally looked over by the press.
PINKERTON: I'll say, Cal put his finger on it. After the election. OK? They weren't going mess up Obama's bed before the election. Now that the partisan mission of getting him re-elected is completed, they can go back to being liberals and worrying about due process and where is the ACLU and so on. But it has been a field day for left-wing papers like Mother Jones and the Nation, as Cal and Ellen mentioned. Also, The Guardian. The Guardian has been on this all along. They had a lot of these reports years ago that the New York Times and the Washington Post before the election weren't in the least bit interested in.
THOMAS: What they are focusing on really is the wrong thing. They are still underreporting what is really going on in some of these Middle East nations that are harboring the terrorists. What they are saying in their press, what they are saying from their mosques, what they're saying in their propaganda films and teaching to young children, this is being minimized, and we're still into this fictitious notion in so much of the press that reaching out and touching them is going to somehow bring reciprocity.
SCOTT: One Middle East nation was also harboring a drone base for us. Saudi Arabia came out this week in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the AP -- the administration had asked them to keep that secret. Should they have?
MILLER: Well, you know, the press has been debating this themselves. The New York Times ombudsman said no, we shouldn't have done it, or maybe we shouldn't have, but probably on balance, we shouldn't have. We're all in favor of transparency. You know what? I'm in favor of respecting the Constitution and keeping Americans alive. And the fact of the matter is, it is embarrassing for America's ally, Saudi Arabia, to have that base there, but when people complain that we couldn't get to Benghazi in time because we lacked the assets overseas to do that, and then complain about doing everything we can to expose our bases there, I think that --
RATNER: There was no analysis in the press that said -- the comparison between keeping Saudi Arabia quiet and the things that supposedly led some of the 9/11 people, which was our bases in Saudi Arabia. I'm not so sure that--
MILLER: That is one of the many reasons that Usama bin Laden gave for his attacks.