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

    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."

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    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 ...

    (LAUGHGTER)

    PINKERTON: .. or Yellowstone Park ...

    CROWLEY: Right.

    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 ...

    (LAUGHTER)

    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 ...

    (LAUGHTER)

    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.

    (CROSSTALK)

    POWERS: Right.

    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."

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    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...

    (LAUGHTER)

    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.

    (LAUGHTER)

    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.