Watch the latest video at FoxNews.com
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
PINKERTON: I mean, look, what Monica, I think, you're exactly right, except for one thing, it was four years and one day ...
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is the not an abstraction. There are people whose livelihoods are at stake.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president forecast dire consequences if Congress doesn't act on spending cuts. And the media coverage parrot the theme. Is the press protecting the president and his policies again? Answers next on "News Watch."
OBAMA: These cuts are not smart, they are not fair, they will hurt our economy, we will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls. This is not an abstraction, people will lose their jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Mr. Obama staged in front of a group of first responders who he says are, their jobs are at risk. Playing to the cameras there, delivering a dismal forecast for Americans, should Congress not act and should the automatic spending cuts take place on March 1st. The GOP responded, today the president advanced an argument Republicans have been making for a year, his sequester is the wrong way to cut spending, replacing the president's sequester will require a plan to cut spending that will put us on the path to a budget that's balanced in ten years, to keep these first responders on the job, what other spending is the president willing to cut? These staged events, is that influencing the coverage?
PINKERTON: I think it is. I think the president has what they call the bully pulpit, and it's very powerful and it moves numbers on the voters polls, but look, when I moved to Washington back in 1980, I quickly learned the phrase, "Washington Monument Syndrome." Which is to say that if you tell the Department of Interior you're going to cut one penny from their budget, the secretary or the Interior will say, well, Jesus, I have to cut back on dessert at the secretary's mess, or my entourage or whatever. They say, oh no, we have to shut down the Washington Monument ...
PINKERTON: .. or Yellowstone Park ...
PINKERTON: Mountain Rushmore or something famous and important. And the point of that, identifying that syndrome is to say the reporters should make fun of it, and they should immediately attack, and say, look, it's obviously you're doing this, Obama is doing it, and the press are eating it up.
SCOTT: Right. Because we've heard animals are going to be released from the National Zoo ...
SCOTT: ... because they can't afford to feed the pandas anymore.
MILLER: No, this is -- and not only that, but Secretary of State John Kerry and we have Janet Napolitano our homeland security chief saying, and it's worse than that, ladies and gentlemen, our nuclear weapons are not going to be safe and we're not going to be able to protect ourselves anymore, I mean, they're really going all out on this and I agree with Jim.
I think it's working.
SCOTT: The president was labeled President Armageddon by "The Wall Street Journal" after his doom and gloom kind of statement. Is that an appropriate take?
POWERS: Well, I mean, I actually think this sequester would be bad, so I mean Armageddon may be overstating it. But I think it's right that it's not being -- they're not being called out for the claims that they're making including Jay Carney, I've lost count of how many times his claim that we have to close the corporate jet loophole and the Republicans want to keep, you know, take money away from babies, you know, food out of babies' mouth so that the corporate jet owners can get tax loopholes, well, the Senate Democratic plan doesn't have anything in it about corporate tax, tax cuts for jets. -- So, I mean, it's just-- you're like, why, why doesn't he get called out on this?
CROWLEY: Right, and we've seen the hysteria before like going all the way back to the Reagan years, you know, we've seen the left scream that you know, our nuclear weapons aren't going to protect it. The press has not covered the truth about the sequester in large part which was -- it is the president's idea, it was the president's idea and yes, Congress did in fact move forward, but the president also signed it into law. And so, where is the accountability? If the president really believes that it was such a horrible idea and it's going to result in such horrendous consequences, why does he propose it and why did he sign it?
PINKERTON: But Judy and Monica mentioned the word nuclear, which makes me think of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees our nuclear power plants, which are kind of a big deal and so on. And one person we won't be hearing from anymore is the fellow named Gene Dwyer (ph), who was the chief financial officer at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who said, this won't be any problem. No sweat, we can handle it. It is only a 3 percent cut. Believe me, he's never going to be at the White House ever ...
PINKERTON: ... the rest of Obama's term.
SCOTT: They're talking about cutting pennies on the dollar out of the federal budget and in fact the federal budget is still going to go up in the year ahead.
POWERS: Right. However, the thing is that isn't getting talked about enough, and Panetta has talked about it, but I don't think liberals in the media really want to focus on it, is that there's a disproportionate focus on cutting the Defense Department. They've repeatedly cut the Defense Department. Every time we have one of these crises, guess where they're cutting money. And so, it actually really is going to impact them.
MILLER: But that's because it's so cuttable, Kirsten, I mean there's so much waste in DOD and in other agencies. But, really, this was not the president's idea. This was his response to the Republicans holding the country hostage ...
POWERS: No, no, no.
PINKERTON: Bob Woodward said it was Jack Lew's idea, our new Treasury Secretary.
SCOTT: All right.
CROWLEY: And the president signed off on it immediately.
SCOTT: Next on "News Watch," The New York Times self-help guide for Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The New York Times prints a punch list of Republican problems, pointing out the party's missteps and mistakes. Did they also throw Rush Limbaugh under the bus? Find out next on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Stephanie Wolf, a visiting assistant professor at West Liberty University in West Virginia instructed her political science students to keep a journal of news reports about politics. Her approved sources included The Economist, BBC, CNN and The Huffington Post, but her top two banned sources were, The Onion...
SCOTT: ...which the assignment notes "is not news, and is literally a parody" and number two, Fox News. She wrote the tag line, "Fox News makes me cringe. Please do not subject me to this biased news station. I would almost rather you print off an article from The Onion."
Well, following some unexpected reaction, Professor Wolf allowed Fox News as a source -- we have broken through.
MILLER: Actually, yes, I'm so glad and I'm sure this professor is going to have a great career in academia because they just love this stuff, but you know, I love the idea of the BBC and The Huffington Post being fair and balanced.
SCOTT: Why do we scare people so much?
CROWLEY: We should give Professor Wolf a shoutout here and totally ruin her career. Hi, Professor Wolf. We're making her cringe, that means that we're actually doing our jobs here unlike most major media outlets. Look, you know, this is so typical of academia. But keep in mind that the White House has been on this campaign to try to dismiss and marginalize Fox News, so when it starts at the top like that, you can only imagine that it goes all the way down.
POWERS: Yeah, I agree with that, I mean I don't think you can dismiss the claims by the White House that this is not a legitimate news organization, you know, and, you know, and you see someone telling their students something like this. I actually -- I mean we were joking about it. I actually find it pretty scary.
MILLER: Scary. I agree. Yeah.
The New York Times magazine ran a kind of self-help guide for the Republican Party. The article includes quotes and opinions from a number of people trying to address the messaging problems perceived among the GOP. Well, one of the quotes about limited messengers came from S.E. Cupp with an interesting addition by The Times writer. From the article, "... and we can't be afraid to call out Rush Limbaugh," said Goodwin's fiancee, S.E. Cupp, a New York Daily News columnist and the co-host of the cycle on MSNBC. "If we can get through Republicans on three different networks saying what Rush Limbaugh said is crazy, and stupid and dangerous, maybe that will give other Republicans cover to denounce the talk show host as well." Well, those last eight words to denounce the talk show host as well were actually added by the writer, Robert Draper.
PINKERTON: Well, I mean this article in The Times magazine was extremely interesting and one part of it was, I think, and that a little bit of the fun of attempting to put Republicans against each other and have them conflict for the enjoy ...
SCOTT: Circular firing squad.
PINKERTON: Circular firing squad. The other part, though, and this is why it is an important for Republicans to read it, on campaign technology, it was a sobering analysis of what went wrong, with, for example, the Romney campaign's ORCA, "Get Out the Vote" thing last November and that part you could cut and paste the parts you don't like, but the stuff on campaign technology is required reading.
SCOTT: The -- S.E. Cupp did a piece in the Daily News in her column. She wasn't outraged about, you know, the addition of the quote or anything like that. She just took on her critics. I mean should she not say something?
MILLER: You know, I mean this is like one conservative whining about another. I found it really inside baseball and I also -- also think that there's a better answer if you don't like Rush Limbaugh, don't listen to him. Don't take him off the air or denounce him or say that his ideas are stupid. You can, but what's the point?
POWERS: Look, I think S.E. sort of plays this role of being someone who wants to take on her party and she feels that Rush Limbaugh sometimes says things that he shouldn't say, like the Sandra Flock things and the people should come out and say that. I do think people did come out and say that, however, you know, I, you know, I appreciate what she does and I think that you know, that she's not-that Rush Limbaugh can be damaging to the Republican Party and there's nothing wrong with saying it.
CROWLEY: There's a little mini scandal, here though, as you point out, Jon, in terms of how The New York Times covered her quote and embellishing it and changing the actual or at least part of what she intended to say.
MILLER: But did she complain?
CROWLEY: She did not and I think that's a mistake on her part.
SCOTT: Coming up on "News Watch" -- can this paper afford to lose its public advocate?
SCOTT: Could be an end of an era at The Washington Post. Meet Patrick Pexton. He is the ombudsman for that paper until next Thursday, and he hints he might be their last. "It is possible that I'll be The Washington Post's last independent ombudsman and that this chair will empty as the conclusion of my two-year term February 28th. If so, that will end nearly 43 years of this publication having enough courage and confidence to employ a full-time reader representative and critic."
We called The Washington Post to find out what they planned to do. No answers just yet. What do you think about that, Jim?
PINKERTON: Well, I think that the ombudsman idea going back to the early 70s -- and The New York Times got one too, about the same time -- is the reaction to the criticism from the Nixon administration of the liberal media, which was, you know, Spiro Agnew's on. I think it was -- it was an interesting reaction, probably it was -- always a case that an ombudsman working for a big paper would be too captive. With the glorious exception of Arthur Brisbane from The New York Times a couple of cycles ago to really be a full-blown spokesman.
SCOTT: You worked for Richard Nixon in his later years?
CROWLEY: I did. Yeah, I did. And look, I mean it was a great year on paper, and the loss of one of The Washington Post means there is one less person supposedly on the watch for bias errors and sort of being that public advocate, but the truth is the reason he's no longer there is that these big papers are dying. Their circulations are down, their subscriptions are down. Everything is moving to the Web. Now, the Web version may need an ombudsman, but we haven't gotten there yet.
SCOTT: Something you've lamented for a long time, Judy.
MILLER; Yeah, absolutely, but a shoutout to Margaret Sullivan, The New York Times ombudsman, who did raise some questions about the Tesla versus John Broder coverage that we talked about last week. So, we do need these institutions, but do we need them more than national bureaus or foreign bureaus?
SCOTT: Good question. That is going to wrap "News Watch" for this week. Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Monica Crowley and Kirsten Powers. I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for joining us. Keep it right here on Fox News Channel. We'll see you again next week.
Content and Programming Copyright 2013 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.