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This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," March 30, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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JON SCOTT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: On "Fox News Watch" -- the debate over same-sex marriage goes to the highest court in the land. Lawyers make their case inside the court, opponents and supporters rally outside. And as you might expect the media coverage leans to the left.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: None of these ideas should be controversial.
SCOTT: Mr. Obama ignites the heated debate over gun rights, marking 100 days since the Newtown tragedy and media ramp up their agenda-driven coverage.
NPR files a report on entitlements showing fraud and billions of taxpayer dollars, wasted on abuse, how did that sit with the liberal media?
The head honcho at Turner claims their cable news channel doesn't have a liberal bias. Do they actually watch CNN?
And once a media darling, now, not so much.
JUSTIN BIEBER, POP STAR: What did you say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
BIEBER: What did you say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
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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 Daily Beast columnist Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
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DIANE SAWYER, ABC ANCHOR: High drama at the Supreme Court. Nine justices taking on a central issue of modern American life, gay marriage. Today the court wrestled with profound questions, what is a family, what is the purpose of marriage?
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS ANCHOR: Today the Supreme Court began two days of hearings on one of the most contentious issues of our time. For the first time the court is considering whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: The U.S. Supreme Court today took on the right to marry someone of the same sex. They're taking on two cases over two days and as with anything the court touches, anything can happen. It's up to the ruling of the nine justices. Public opinion has been changing fast on this subject. It's moved quickly in the past few years.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS: Today the Supreme Court took up the prop 8 case, a ban on same-sex marriage in California, although a ruling is not expected for some time, one justice suggested the court could dismiss the case with no ruling at all.
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SCOTT: Well, it was one of the biggest stories this week in the media. The Supreme Court hearing arguments on two cases concerning same-sex marriage. Outside the court, demonstrators on both sides of the issue. We just heard Diane Sawyer calling it one of the central issues of our times. Is it? I mean, did it deserve the kind of coverage it got? It had, you know, lead story coverage?
JIM PINKERTON, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: It's a big story. It might not be as big as the economy, for example, to most Americans. But nonetheless, the media certainly think it is a big story and we should take it from Jack Mirkinson, who is the media editor at "The Huffington Post," who should know where media stands on these things and said the Supreme Court might, may be divided on gay marriage, but the media isn't. Now, should be aren't, because media are plural.
PINKERTON: But nonetheless, we see where it's coming from. And I think he's right about his fellow fourth estaters.
SCOTT: But the coverage, Judy, seemed pretty one-sided, it seemed to be pretty much pro gay marriage?
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think it was pretty one- sided, because I think that reflects public opinion and especially young public opinion in America. But I think that basic divide is between people who see this as a political issue, in which intelligent people can do disagree, and others who see it as a basic human civil rights. And if you're in the latter camp, then you really - you can't have enough coverage of it.
SCOTT: Well - but there are a lot of people who oppose gay marriage, obviously, I mean witness them outside the Supreme Court. It doesn't seem that their views get a whole lot of coverage?
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY & DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: Well, I think that most of the people in the media are, the way it breaks down in the polls, is that younger people tend to be the ones that are more overwhelmingly in support of gay marriage and older people are the ones who aren't. And I think the media is more populated by people on the younger scale. So, that's going to be their point of view. But because there are so many people in this country who do oppose it, I think that they should be given a fair hearing, and there should be a real debate on it. Look, the clips you just showed I thought were very straight forward, I don't think there's anything wrong with the coverage that they did, and I think even The New York Times, in their news coverage of this, covered what was happening before the Supreme Court appropriately.
SCOTT: But now, do the polls drive the coverage here.
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it's kind of a chicken and egg. I mean here's how the media drives the coverage, I think, and for themselves. I haven't seen so much cheerleading for an issue since that done by the media for President Obama. Natalie Morales and Susanna Guthrie of NBC.
SCOTT: Savannah Guthrey.
THOMAS: Savannah Guthrie, sorry of NBC, participated in, and Natalie Morales hosted a National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association NLGJA. They were joined by people from CNN, The New York Times and even the Wall Street Journal. Now, I'm against all of this, African-American journalists, female journalists, Hispanic Journalists - all the specialized journalists groups that people go to, why can't we just have journalists and why what are they doing showing up at an advocacy dinner and then going back and reporting on it?
SCOTT: Well, and speaking of cheer-leading, Time magazine had a couple of separate coverages out on this issue, showing gay and lesbian couples kissing. The headline on both "Gay Marriage Already Won." Is that pushing an agenda?
PINKERTON: Well, again, I mean Rush Limbaugh said we lost, that was his quote, we lost the language on this, we lost the taxonomic arithmetic, the conservatives, that is. But look, let's just bear in mind, the media have pushed this issue this far, they might even push it further. Melissa Harris-Perry who's a host at MSNBC wrote an article in The Nation magazine, left wing publication saying, it would be tragic to allow marriage equality to destroy our marginal as the pioneering work of queer family is, or create -as they - seek to create a new kind of family." In other words, this issue will keep going. I think Cal has been making this point for years. Why, why logically, why stop the gay marriage?
MILLER: I think I have a problem with the identification of someone who claims to be an objective journalist, who changes his or her avatar on Facebook or Twitter to-- take a position.
SCOTT: And some have been doing this.
MILLER: And they have been doing this and then they say on the other hand, oh, well, there's no problem here, I can still be objective. Well, no, you can't be. If you're an opinion journalist, you have the right to have an opinion. If you're trying to cover something straight, you shouldn't take one side publicly.
SCOTT: It will be interesting to see what the court decides and how the media reacts to this decision. That's in the months to come. Next on "News Watch", the gun debate goes on.
ANNOUNCER: The gun control debate heats up. Anti-gun advocates pushing their agenda with media help. But is the coverage ignoring real causes of gun violence? Details next on "News Watch."
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OBAMA: As I said when I visited Newtown, just over three months ago, if there is a step we can take that will save just one child, just one parent, just another town from experiencing the same grief that some of the moms and dads who are here have endured, then we should be doing it.
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: The president uses them as a back drop and drama for getting some kind of political will. But my question to the president is, call me if any of your reforms would have saved those kids at Sandy Hook. If anything he's proposing would have changed the outcome, I'll listen to him. I haven't heard one proposal from him or Harry Reid that would have saved one life and I'm all for saving lives and I think it's a real and horrible tragedy, but I think it's a mistake to play on the-- these victims and the emotions of their tragedy when nothing he's proposing would change one iota of what happened.
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SCOTT: First there, President Obama on Thursday at the White House renewing his quest for more gun laws. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul then responding to Mr. Obama's, what he sees as his misplaced efforts. What about it, Jim? Does anybody in the media see it the way Rand Paul sees it?
PINKERTON: Maybe somewhere.
THOMAS: ... give him an hour, he'll try to come up with somebody.
PINKERTON: Look, and I think this is a case where the media in many cases are to the left of the Obama administration. There's a sense of disappointment in the president among some and I think the president is trying to scramble up to keep his - as he called it, his base going. But meanwhile you see people like Chris Matthews of MSNBC overtly comparing the NRA through the movie "Casablanca" to the nazis and that's not the - Scott Whitlock at NewsBusters pointed out, it's far from the first time he's tried to make equation of the NRA and our Republicans as like nazis, and I think that's terrible. And I think - I'm still waiting for the ADL or somebody to denounce Matthews for doing this.
SCOTT: I see you actually nodding in agreement to some of that? Can that be?
MILLER: Yeah, I think that President Obama bears a lot of responsibility for this. I mean, he is the Cheshire cat who just disappears when you need him. A speech is not a strategy. And what you're hearing from left wing commentators and people like me who feel strongly about gun restrictions, is that he has he been nowhere in terms of leadership on this issue, and I think it's a fair point.
SCOTT: The Washington Post, Kirsten had a story on gun homicides: out of a million people, 151 blacks are killed. 15 whites. Juan Williams, who has been a guest on this program, also wrote about the race issue, saying "... talking about race in the context of guns would also mean taking on a subject that can't be addressed by passing a law. The family breakdown issues that lead to many minority children to find social status and power in guns." Is he right? Will the media notice?
POWERS: I mean he's right, that the media won't talk about that. And they don't - Rand Paul is a 100 percent correct in his analysis, which is, you can be somebody who wants to end gun violence and even be a person who supports gun control like I do, and know that the things that have been proposed would not prevent that massacre from happening at that school. And so, the media is not doing their job, they're just reflexively saying anything that's gun control will solve the problem rather than really analyzing and saying, well, let's look at, you know, what kind of guns were actually used in these killings?
SCOTT: Yeah, why not? Why are the media not looking at mental illness or some of the other contributing factors?
THOMAS: Because there's such a political component to this that they want to play on. Look, if you're going to eliminate gun violence, you might as well talk about eliminating sin. It's not the instrument in the hand, it's what's in the heart. If somebody is determined to break a law to kill somebody, more laws are not going to deter them, especially with over 300 million guns available in this country, and that's what the media never addresses.
MILLER: I think these issues are being addressed now and I think that this is the way our system works. A passionate minority has - can often deflect the will of the majority. And it is going to take a really focused campaign and a strategy to change that and it hasn't happened and who do we blame? I think the president deserves blame.
SCOTT: There are some on the left in the media who have been advocating that the crime scene photos from Sandy Hook should be released, among them Michael Moore, the film maker and a guy named Robert Perry, who wrote for AP and Newsweek. He had this to write or to say, he says, "We must all look at these bullet-riddled six year olds, some of them literally ripped to pieces by multiple gunshots from an AR-15 rifle. For some of us such an experience as distressing as it would be would strengthen a determination to take action. For others who believe that the Second Amendment gives them the right to own any weapon they want and carry it wherever they please, seeing the dismembered school children would give them a new way to value their right." What do you think about that, Jim?
PINKERTON: Well, I think the people can consult, first, with the parents of these children and see how they feel about this, I suspect they wouldn't want this. But look, the media's rolling has just on new forms. And this information wants to be free - (ph) which I've said many times, does take itself to excess, these photographing is probably an example of that. But also, the Des Moines Register put it - a graphic showing all the schools in the state of Iowa and then whether or not they have security guards there. And that might not seem like such a good idea to alert potential crazies, whether they can go and find an undefended school. In fact, The Register took it down and apologized, but we also saw this with The Journal News in Westchester County, New York, when they put a list - again, a computer graphic of all the handgun ownership in I think Westchester County.
THOMAS: And a couple of others.
PINKERTON: And so we're going to have to wrestle with, how do the media responsibly deal with the issues of violence and guns in a way that doesn't further make things worse?
SCOTT: And what about that? Publishing a list of unprotected schools?
POWERS: Yeah. Well, they said that they were doing it to try to inform parents about whether or not the school that their child was going to, you know, was protected. But I think, you know, you understand that instinct, it's a good instinct, but that you would have thought they would have done the math and sort of figured out that they were alerting people where they could go to find unprotected school.
SCOTT: Next on "News Watch," the man in charge doesn't think CNN is biased.
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ANNOUNCER: NPR reports on questionable government spending. The report causing backlash by the liberal press. And CNN claims to have an image problem. Is it time to face the facts? All next on "News Watch."
SCOTT: NPR ran an investigation put together by Chana Joffe-Walt to -- according to her report, spent the past six months looking into the federal government's disability programs. Here are three lines at the top: "In the past three decades the number of Americans on disability has skyrocketed, every month 14 million people now get a disability check from the federal government. It's the story not only of an aging workforce, but also of a hidden, increasingly expensive safety net." She also notes that the federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for supposedly disabled former workers than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined. Cal, as you might imagine, the folks at Media Matters which is that liberal media watchdog group funded by George Soros ...
SCOTT: They're having a problem with this, they say it's become fodder for right -- the right wing.
THOMAS: I give kudos and congratulations to NPR for honestly covering a real big problem. The problem with the left is, they don't want to see any error, any fraud, any abuse in government programs because for them, government is gone. But I want to give also praise to Doug McKelway who on this network all week has been doing this very subject about wasteful spending in government. We don't have this enough, but it's good that NPR did it especially for their mostly liberal audience.
POWERS: Well, I just want to say. First of all, Media Matters is not a legitimate organization and they do not exist to be a media watchdog group, they're actually -- it's interesting, they're taking a little time off to attack NPR, because they recently announced that they have -- they're using their $10 million annual budget just to destroy Fox News, which is an interesting way to use your money in this world today, I think. So, you know, I'm not surprised that Media Matters is attacking them. Because this is what they do. I guess someone on Fox must have talked about it and that caused them to freak out.
SCOTT: Are the other media outlets paying attention, Judy?
MILLER: Not really. I mean Media Matters, is, I think trying to display that it's fair and balanced by attacking another liberal leaning organization, NPR, but this was really a first class report. It was both well-written, anecdotal, full of information I didn't know, without being hysterical. I, too, like Cal commend NPR.
SCOTT: And taxpayers -- taxpayers who fund NPR ought to be paying attention.
PINKERTON: Right. I mean when you get statistics, like one quarter of the population at some little county in Alabama is on disability. It tells you there's a little blister, if you will, of claims activism. Sort of reminds you the old Confederate war veterans, widows, a 100 years later, these people who married ...
PINKERTON: A 99-year old guy when they were 10 are still collecting Confederate pensions.
SCOTT: All right, so moving on to - moving on to the bizarre reports out this week that CNN taped a pilot with Anderson Cooper and his New Year's Eve sidekick, Kathy Griffin. You might recall the last time they were together, they embarrassed themselves and that channel with something of an X-rated display on New Year's Eve, so with that in mind, Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent did an interview with broadcasting and cable about the challenges facing that cable news channel. Asked "What's the biggest misconception about CNN?" His response, "That it's a liberal news network. It drives me crazy. It's not. Then asked what needs to be done to change that. "I think one of the things we fix is we make sure we have the right balances of voices, good conservatives, good liberals, experts in all areas, it is a serious news network." So, Judy on the one hand he says we're not biased, but on the other hand he says we need more balance, how do you explain that?
MILLER: Well, I'm going to leave that to Phil Kent's publicity people. I think what struck me about it was that Breitbart went through a list of issues and compared MSNBC's positions to CNN's position and found no difference in terms of their on-air presentation on Benghazi, on gun control, on Piers Morgan is in a category unto himself. Yeah, I think it leans liberal.
SCOTT: And (inaudible) he says they're a serious news network and then we get word that Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin may be putting together a pilot.
POWERS: Yeah, well. I mean -- look, I think CNN is certainly -- it's not as liberal as MSNBC, but that's not much of a bar. You know, so they're clearly liberal. Tucker Carlson did a great interview where he was asked about media bias. He says, you know, I worked at CNN for 10 years, they're completely liberal, they need to stop lying about it. Because there's nothing wrong with that, just own who you are, and just be honest about who you are.
THOMAS: I think Mr. Kent has come up with a possible new logo. Instead of CNN, he says it's a Serious News Network, call it SNN and we'll refer to it as sin.
SCOTT: Next on "News Watch," could the media be losing Bieber fever?
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JUSTIN BIEBER (SINGING)
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SCOTT: He was cute back then, 2008. A very young Canadian musician named Justin Bieber put his music videos on Youtube, got discovered and the rest is history. Social media playing a huge role in his success. Bieber fever spread around the world. Number one songs, platinum albums, magazine covers, awards, TV appearances. There is even a wax Bieber at Madam Tussaud's and with all the media attention, we could only hope he could keep it all in check. Well, just as quickly as the media can build you up they can also tear you down. The Bieb was caught flipping of the paparazzi a number of times. He has been pulled over for driving more than a hundred miles an hour on a California freeway claiming to be trying to outrun photographers. He was caught smoking marijuana, then apologized on "Saturday Night Live" and we saw him at his best earlier this month in London.
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BIEBER: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
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SCOTT: Well that is way too many beeps for a teen pop star who claims he has strong Christian beliefs. Just this week, claims by a neighbor in his double gated Ritzy neighborhood in California that the teen idol was driving his way too expensive sports car way too fast. And when the neighbor went to tell the Bieb about his careless driving, the pop star reportedly spit in his face. That is now under investigation. We'll keep an eye on this and I hope for the best.
That's a wrap on this week's "News Watch." Thanks to you, Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Kirsten Powers. I'm Jon Scott. See you again next week.
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