• With: Judy Miller, Monica Crowley, Jim Pinkerton, Kirsten Powers

    This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," February 23, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


    JON SCOTT, HOST: On "Fox News Watch" -- did you see President Obama golfing with Tiger Woods? No? Neither did the White House press, and they're not happy about it.

    The Obama White House accused of avoiding tough questions and shutting out the media. Except for questions like this:

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are wondering if you prefer the name Elinore or Alice?

    SCOTT: Has our president become a media controlling puppet master? Do the media deserve it?

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This isn't the right way to do it.

    SCOTT: The sequestration is coming, and the Obama fear blame and shame theatrics lure in the media, even Rush has had enough.

    RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST: I am ashamed of my country.

    SCOTT: The professor bans Fox as a news source. And can this paper afford to lose its public advocates? We say no.


    SCOTT: On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor, Judy Miller. Radio talk show host, Monica Crowley. 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.

    Hello again, normally we would show you some video right here in this case, it would have been a clip of President Obama hanging with his golfing buddy Tiger Woods over the weekend. But we don't have those pictures because the White House press corps was locked out, access denied. Now, is that a big deal? Well, maybe. Especially when candidate Obama made this promise.


    OBAMA: What I want to do is maintain this virtual community that we've built and I want people to keep challenging me and pressing me, and I want to create a White House that is more transparent and accountable than any government we've seen before.


    SCOTT: Well, the Obama White House has actually been overactive in cutting off access, controlling the message and manipulating the media to avoid answering some of the tough questions. The journalists whose job it is to cover the president reacted to this latest shutout. Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry who also serves as the president of the White House correspondent's association issued this statement. "A broad cross section," he writes, "of our members from print, radio, online and TV have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the president of the United States this entire weekend. There is a very simple, but important principle we'll continue to fight for today and in the days ahead. Transparency." Jim, there were some in the media who missed the point of the statement, Ed Henry said it's not about golf, it's about access and covering the president.

    JIM PINKERTON, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Right, I mean, it was interesting that the president was playing golf not only with Tiger Woods, but also with a bunch of oil industry executives, which seemed to go in the face of his climate change protestations, and only a few places like "Huffington Post" thought it was a big deal even when that found out. But, look, I think this is an interesting case where the message of transparency was kind of lost because the messenger was Ed Henry, who is a fine reporter and well respected and obviously, his colleagues like him. They elected him president of the association, but that was a cue to nattering nabobs and negatives in the press to say well, wait a second, that's just a plot by Fox to embarrass the president and so on. And as Politico's Dylan Byers said, it was quote, a "public relations disaster." If the White House press corps is supposed to have its own press secretary to defend itself, but I think the mainstream media are so Obama-philic that they are just clobbered the way that press corps for daring to ask questions.

    SCOTT: For a time, Judy, I understand the White House didn't even tell where the president was staying. Now, God forbid there had been some kind of a terrorist attack or an accidental explosion. What is the press supposed to do in that situation?

    JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the press is supposed to do exactly what Ed Henry did, and that is complain and say we're not going to be doormats anymore, we're going to ask tough questions, when Fox News is kept out of-- of a background briefing on Benghazi and Fox is one of the few networks that's been pressing this issue, they're going to raise holy heck, and they're going to say when this administration goes after leakers or whistleblowers and the journalists who publish what they tell us, we're going to be upset.

    SCOTT: Meantime, there was a leak of the president's immigration plan last weekend and the White House didn't seem to have any problem with that, but they sidestepped the tough questions from the, you know, from the White House press corps in favor of, you know, local TV anchors that they trot into the White House and that kind of thing.

    KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY & DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: Right. Well, this is this political piece which was headlined "President Obama, Puppet Master?"

    And the answer is yes, he is, you know, is the puppet master of this media, focused on the facts that the president only wants to talk to people who aren't going to give him tough questions, to which I would say, actually, I think Chris Wallace should be proud that the president won't go on his show at this point, because what it says, is he only goes on the shows of people who go easy on him and so that means -- I think these are the people who call themselves journalists, should start asking why is the president so willing to come on my show so often?

    SCOTT: And that puppetmaster piece was spawned in part by the lack of access to the golf game. Correspondent Ann Compton, who's been at the White House a long, long time was quoted thusly. "The president's day-to- day policy development -- on immigration, on guns is almost totally opaque to the reporters trying to do a responsible job of covering it. There are no readouts from the big meetings he has with people from the outside, and many of them are not even on his schedule. This is different from every president I covered. The White House, this White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away." Why?

    MONICA CROWLEY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: And it's only taking the elite mainstream media what -- four years to discover this about this White House? Every White House does try to control its message and its narrative. This White House is not unique in that way, but what's different here is that this White House has a huge advantage in that most of the elite mainstream media is on its side and doing its bidding every day. And that's one of the great ironies, that all of this, that the White House, pretty much like every White House before it, loathes the press, doesn't trust the press, tries to keep it at arm's length, tries to freeze out outlets that they believe are hostile to it. But the irony here is that, this president and this White House has gotten more favorable coverage and more protection than any other president in recent memory.

    SCOTT: And then there was a report of a -- an off the record meeting between the president and the press corps on Thursday of this week. When asked about it, Jay Carney, the presidential spokesman wouldn't even admit that the meeting had taken place.

    PINKERTON: It was off the record.


    CROWLEY: Yeah.

    PINKERTON: I mean, look, what Monica, I think, you're exactly right, except for one thing, it was four years and one day ...

    CROWLEY: Right.

    PINKERTON: After -- the day after the election they started to wake up a little bit and get a little bit of a spine, but as -- look, as Dave Weigel of Slate said, quote, "Obama's contempt for the press corps runs long and deep," unquote. And that's exactly right. And it's pretty much what every -- every president ends up feeling about the press corps. The difference is, as Monica was saying, the press loves him anyway, they may not like him personally and they certainly don't like Jay Carney, but it is in their mind a historical necessity that this man win, govern and get reelected, and if they could vote for him the third term, they would.

    CROWLEY: It's also incredible, though, that the press discovered their outrage about being denied access over a golf game with Tiger Woods. Where is their outrage on being blocked access to Benghazi, or "Fast and Furious"? Or questions about debt, spending, jobs, growth -- it would be nice to see if they were as curious about that.

    SCOTT: Interesting. The White House didn't even release a White House press photographer picture of the Tiger Woods event. Now, you know, they complained that apparently reporters only want to see the president with celebrities. Well, if you go on the White House flicker site you can see pictures of him with the Chicago Bulls, with B.B. King, with George Clooney, Katy Perry, Will Ferrell, the cast of "Modern Family," but there is nothing of this, well, now humiliated former golf star, Tiger Woods.

    CROWLEY: Yes, this is more about Tiger Woods, this rehabilitation, being seen or being -- you know, playing golf with the president than it is about Obama.

    MILLER: But Ann Compton also said, by the way, that this is a trend, this has been getting worse with every administration.

    SCOTT: All right, next on "News Watch." the media takes sides in the sequestration showdown.


    OBAMA: This is the not an abstraction. There are people whose livelihoods are at stake.