• With: Judy Miller, Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Ellen Ratner

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


    JON SCOTT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: On "Fox News Watch":

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Any drama between me and my friend Bibi over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet.

    SCOTT: With the media in tow, President Obama takes his show on the road doing his best to convince Israelis and Palestinians that he really does care. Is the press buying his pitch or asking tough questions like why now?

    After months of bluster and blame by liberal media pushing for tougher gun laws, the Democrats attempt to ban assault weapons hits a dead end. But that headline mostly missed by the press.

    A new study shows what we already knew - the mainstream political press were parrots of political campaigns lacking investigations and real objective reporting. Will anything change?

    Taking a page out of the Obama sequester scare playbook, a top Democratic leader is accused of trying to tie the budget cuts to the deaths of American Marines, most in the media missed this as well. And a new book out about our Fox News chief. What kind of attention do you think that's getting?


    SCOTT: On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller; syndicated columnist, Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor of 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.


    OBAMA: I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea. The idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own. The Palestinian people's right to self- determination, their right to justice must also be recognized. And put yourself in their shoes, look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own.



    SCOTT: President Obama speaking to a primarily Jewish audience in Jerusalem on Thursday, a major trip to the Middle East, which had some critics in the media asking, why is he there? So, Jim, let's get your answer on that. Is this part of the charm offensive continued overseas?

    JIM PINKERTON, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: OK, right, And first Republicans, which was mixed to now Netanyahu would probably be a tougher sell. Look, this is a trip that probably should have happened in the first term and then for sort of various reasons it didn't. And now they're doing it now. Not because I think they have anything great to offer, it's just they think they have to, it's sort of checking the box. It's fun to watch little drama between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the president. And here the civil rights narrative, which Josh Gerstein of Politico described as sort of a strange transplant from the American south to the West Bank of Israel. But the real story is outside of Israel. It's Syria, it's Egypt, it's Iran and then the media is having a tough time dealing with that as they cover all this pompous circumstances.

    SCOTT: Judy, you're just back from that part of the world. Just back.


    SCOTT: Are the media buying what the president is trying to accomplish?

    MILLER: Well, in Israel, Jon, it was a total love fest, I would have said, Jim, exactly what you said before I went, but to see the outpouring of affection for this president and for what he represents, it was truly astonishing.

    SCOTT: But not from Netanyahu.

    MILLER: No, what was interesting, though, is that both men have clearly figured out and several commentators noted that they need each other and that it's going to be a very, very rough three years, and so you've got to get off on a better footing and work together because of Iran, Syria and all the other and Egypt, I might add, humongous challenges facing them.

    SCOTT: So both sides have managed to change the media narrative, do you think?

    MILLER: I think they've almost had to because the trip was such a success. I mean, you know, critics like Herb Keinon of The Jerusalem Post said, he had us at shalom. And, you know, the biblical references, the acknowledgment of the Jewish people's connection to the land, all the things he didn't do in the Cairo speech. All the things he should have done on a first trip as commander-in-chief now he did and Bibi has to respond to that. And people do.

    SCOTT: But Ellen, there were critics like the London Daily Telegraph who put together an editorial saying, you know, this is a trip he should have taken four years ago.

    ELLEN RATNER, BUREAU CHIEF OF TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE: Well, that's right, and also what was fascinating to me is the different journalists and their take was almost a Rorschach test for themselves. I mean Andrea Mitchell saying, well, this was to repair relations, Jennifer Rubin talking about the right turn and those folks. You had the real clear politics folks talking about how he was, you know, doing this trip for the radical left. I mean, so, everybody had a very different take on why he was there.

    SCOTT: Have the media been critical enough of this president's foreign policies?

    CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, we're seeing some cracks in that, John. I want to give kudos to Chuck Todd of NBC News who actually challenged the president during the news conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu and asked him to explain what he called his failure, the president's, to achieve Middle East peace. Now, this is an amazing breakthrough prompting a rather snarky remark from the president, saying that he should behave - Chuck Todd should behave just like the Israeli press and ask only one question and label him as being obsequious.

    PINKERTON: And look, I watched as you were at the press conference on Twitter just for fun, and all of a sudden I saw this flurry of tweets, oh, who is this thug Chuck Todd, you know ...


    PINKERTON: And I thought he - I didn't see it on TV, I thought, well, he's on something, he's, you know, he pulled up his pants in the middle of the press conference. In fact, all he did was, as Cal said, asked a tough question and it caused an eruption of reporters saying how dare you be mean to our fearless president and then that night Brian Williams on NBC had to take time off in the broadcast. By the way, Chuck Todd is fine, you know, they kind of laughed it off. That shows how desperate they are to preserve their master-slave relationship with Obama ...

    MILLER: Well ...


    MILLER: Come on, Jim.


    SCOTT: But what about the timing of the trip? I should - did the media ask the question why now and what does he hope to accomplish?

    RATNER: They did ask that - they did ask - they, definitely asked that question ...

    MILLER: Yes.