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This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," April 6, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
ANNOUNCER: On "Fox News Watch," both sides in the gun debate up the ante.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If these reforms keep one person from murdering dozens of innocent children, isn't it worth fighting for?
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA PRESIDENT: Everything might have been stopped, but for deficiencies in the mental health system and the criminal justice system. Let's fix those and let's put and school security on top of it and make people safe.
ANNOUNCER: And the usual suspects fire up rhetoric to push their agenda.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: This is where we are with guns in this country.
ANNOUNCER: The Associated Press takes a stand on illegal immigrants, eliminating the lebel illegal immigrant. How will that move affect the coverage?
Twitter has become a battlefield in a war of words. The president's men attacking critics from all sides, is it working?
RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO SHOW HOST: Now they're back to calling out Drudge.
ANNOUNCER: And a top Obama adviser takes a shot at Drudge and the Washington press.
JON SCOTT, HOST: On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller, Radio talk show host Monica Crowley, Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor the American Conservative magazine and Daily Beast columnist Kirsten Powers. I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
OBAMA: We've got to get past some of the rhetoric that gets perpetuated, that breaks down trust and is so over the top that it just shuts down on discussion. And it's important for all of us when we hear that kind of talk to say, hold on a second. You know, if there are any folks who are out there right now who are gun owners and you've been hearing that somebody is taking your guns, get the facts.
LAPIERRE: We're saying it louder than anybody, enforced the federal gun laws. They're not doing it. Put armed security in the schools. Fix the mental health system.
The media, they may not like it. They're screaming to the rafters for this gun ban agenda. I think the American public is seeing through it and saying I don't want that imposed on me.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
SCOTT: President Obama in Colorado this week trying to regain some lost momentum in his effort to get more gun laws passed. And in response there, NRA president Wayne LaPierre trying to fend off some of the rhetoric and focus the debate, a debate that has pretty much been one-sided in the media.
Case in point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLP)
MATTHEWS: We've got a Texas senator, Ted Cruz, who won't let the Senate hold a democratic vote on gun safety, so no democracy.
We've got people out there using people out there using guns to get even with public officials, intimidating those they don't kill. This is where we are with guns in this country. Second amendment remedies being executed on public officials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Scott Witlock at News Busters took a look at that clip, Jim, and said that Matthews is clearly unhinged trying to tie the Tea Party to Ted Cruz, the Texas Senator and suggesting that somehow they were complicit in the murders of that Texas prosecutor and his wife.
JIM PINKERTON, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Right, I mean, look, this is a case where the media are, I think, leading the story. I think they've dragged the Obama administration back into it in a big way over the last week. And yet, even as the media are trying to drive the administration, with some success, they're confusing the story battling the public.
There are really three issues here. One is gun restrictions, probably dead at the federal level, but not at the state level.
Second issue is background checks where even Asa Hutchinson told Wolf Blitzer on CNN, yeah, we could consider -- the NRA, we could consider background checks.
And the third problem is, because the media loves cover sort of exciting outrider stories, to them at least, like Caroline McCarthy, the congresswoman from New York State who has a $10,000 insurance bond plan -- she has a grant total of eight co-sponsors, which is to say it's going nowhere and yet 100 percent of talk radio, as I'm sure Monica would know, is over that saying, look, this is where their real agenda is, headed toward some vast federal data base on guns. And I think that, therefore, clouds any prospect for even minimal gun control.
SCOTT: Judy, we know you're in favor of more gun control. But I want to read you this from Campbell Brown, the former CNN and NBC anchor. She wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week, the president's campaign against gun violence has produced a stale debate marked by lots of speeches with little achieved. A more creative chief executive would have used this to widen the discussion by drawing attention to the increasingly graphic violence so pervasive in television shows, movies and video games.
What do you think about that position? Anybody else talked about that?
JUDY MILLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think people are starting to talk about it. We've talked about it on this show. Joe Klein talked about it in a slap at the administration this week when he mentioned the president's implementation problem and his tendency to confuse giving a great speech with having a strategy for implementing the proposals that he must have known from the beginning were doomed in the senate.
I mean, I think that if he had acted more quickly, if he had acted immediately when people were still very upset about what happened in Connecticut, the school shooting, he might have stood some chance, but I think at this point it's just kind of cynical speech giving to suggest that he really cares about this.
SCOTT: The NRA held a news conference on Tuesday talking about what it calls its school shield program. The idea of putting armed guards in schools. You know, talking about enhanced mental health screening and so forth in this country. It didn't get a lot of positive press. Should it? I mean.
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY & DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: I don't find the NRA calling for more guns to be really a positive plan. I mean, that's their agenda. So now we want more guns. We need guns in the schools. It's just -- that's of course is going to be their solution.
But if you watch all of that interview that you showed at the beginning with Wayne LaPierre and Megyn Kelly really grilled and did a great job. I just -- he doesn't come off as an honest broker to me, you know, so I don't know why he's supposed to be treated like he's somebody who is really trying to solve this problem when in fact he just has his agenda. Fine, his agenda is just to fight any kind of gun control at every turn, even when Megyn really pinned him down, you know, talking about how they -- 11 school children probably survived the shooting because the shooter didn't have as many -- didn't have the clips or magazines that he would have liked to have.
Wayne LaPierre never answered that question, he just gave talking points.
SCOTT: But one of the parents of one of the Sandy Hook victims, Mark Mattioli, was also at that Wayne LaPierre news conference. He actually applauded the NRA, called it a comprehensive program. But because, I guess, he isn't touting the line that most in the press seem to like, his story didn't get a lot of attention.
MONICA CROWLEY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Did not get much coverage this week at all. And you can maybe say that the messenger is not the best, but the message is a legitimate point and we should be having this discussion. And the press just refuses to cover the other side or covers it at the bare minimum.
The other thing that I find that the press has not been covering is the fact that yes, the president's gun control agenda is dead in the congress. But why is that? The media has been almost solely focused on the NRA, and Republicans, and the threat of a filibuster possibly in the Senate over gun control. But actually the biggest obstacle is Democrats, Democrats who are up for reelection in big red states with gun cultures in their states next year. Neither Harry Reid nor Barack Obama really want to fight that battle right now.
So the biggest obstacle are the Democrats who have a rift in the Democratic Party right now between the far left and the pro second amendment Democrats and that is not being covered.
SCOTT: Coming up on "News Watch," the Associated Press doesn't like labels. Can you guess which one?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: The Associated Press making news, taking a stand against labeling illegal immigrants as illegal immigrants. Is the AP attempting to shape the coverage in the immigration debate? Details next on "News Watch."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, TONIGHT SHOW HOST: And in a ground breaking move the Associated Press, the largest news gathering outlet in the world will no longer use the term "illegal immigrant" that is out. No longer illegal immigrant. They'll now use the phrase "undocumented Democrat." That is the new one, undocumented Democrat, no more illegal...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Jay Leno there putting a humorous spin on a serious topic. The Associated Press decided this week to cut "illegal immigrant" from its style book replacing it with this, "illegal immigration, entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law except in direct quotes essential to the story use illegal only to refer to an action not a person, illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.
This is the AP style book. It is not only used by the AP, but news organizations all over the world. So how is this going to change the debate?
PINKERTON: Well first of all, now we know why Jay Leno is no longer going to be on NBC.
Look, the AP -- the same change has also changed the word schizophrenia and Islamist as well (inaudible). And so this is going to be -- have its fair share of repercussions, but I'm actually in this case with Janet Napolitano who said, listen, if they're an immigrant in the country illegally in the country then they're an illegal immigrant which strikes me as a plausible enough statement, although I'm sure once she gets her own copy of AP stylebook and the White House communications office will correct her and say get with the program now.
SCOTT: The AP says they're trying to eliminate labels. What's wrong with labels? I mean, we use labels in news coverage all the time?
MILLER: Well, I think some labels are more pejorative than others. And they decided that this is one in which you're dealing with a very polarized heated debate and that they didn't want to appear to take sides. And I think that even though we can make fun of it, I think they have a point and it's defendable.
SCOTT: All right. Let's get your take on that. Is it defendable? I mean, somebody who is in this country illegally, are they not an illegal immigrant?
POWERS: But they're also an undocumented immigrant, which is I think is what they're going to call them. So why not call them an undocumented versus illegal. That's what I -- I refer to them as undocumented. And I guess we're all sort of influenced by our bias. I'm a very pro, you know, immigration, almost open borders person probably. But the difference is, I'm an opinion journalist. And the AP is supposed to be objective.
So I don't -- I'm not -- I'm a little bit on the fence about this. But i guess if they mean the exact same thing, why not go with the one that's not pejorative.
SCOTT: So are they against eliminating all labels or labels that don't suit a certain...
CROWLEY: Their agenda. I mean, I guess their philosophy now is why use two words when you could use 17 words in a story.
The bigger serious point, and the serious point here, though, is that they are not acting so much as journalists anymore as they are advocates of a certain position, and that's where I have a problem. I have a real problem with the word police in any kind of context. This is the Associated Press, anointing themselves as the word police, saying well you can't use this because it doesn't quite fit our political agenda.
And in terms of the Islamist, Jim, you're exactly right, CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is an affiliate group of the Muslim Brotherhood leaned on the Associated Press and said you cannot use Islamist as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, which essentially leaves you with nothing.
So again you have an intimidation campaign being waged against the AP and they've caved.
SCOTT: I mean, one of these was issued to me in journalism school I was expected to, whatever was in the AP stylebook is how I had to write my story.
PINKERTON: And that was a long time ago, no offense.
PINKERTON: And some number of decades later, there's 100,000 PC police to make sure that you do this as well. I mean, it's -- there's a degree of dishonesty here. I mean, for example, the law calls people who are not here legally illegal aliens, which is even worse, maybe, than illegal immigrants. That's federal law, which has not yet been changed.
I mean, meanwhile...
SCOTT: It will be.
PINKERTON: Meanwhile, this is the reality, as William La Jeunesse has been reporting on Fox all week, nobody has any idea who is coming across the border. I mean, so -- it's just crazy to be sitting here having a fake law and a fake terminology debate while for all intents and purposes the border is still open.
SCOTT: All right, coming up next on "News Watch," what does the White House think about Matt Drudge?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: President Obama's top adviser takes a shot at the political press pointing to the Drudge Report as a bad influence. That's next on "News Watch."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Politico ran this story on Wednesday, "Obama's Trash Talkers: Former White House men who regularly use Twitter to attack critics of the administration."
Here is one from form Obasma's former senior adviser David Plouffe to Republican Karl Rove, "how many times can you be wrong before credibility wanes?"
And from former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor about the media, "press corps salivating over Rand Paul CPAC performance, his extremes views in a GOP primary would be best thing for Democrats, just ask Mitt."
And this from former Obama speakwriter Jon Lovett, "Twitter offers a window into the internal frustrations of an administration and the arguments people make on the inside. So it's not surprising that the people coming out of this White House are skeptical of Washington, Congress and the media."
Jim, what was interesting to you about what Politico had to say?
PINKERTON: At first it was a very smart piece by Dylan Byers. Second of all, as I've mentioned on the show, this fellow Richard Rushfield was a blogger in Los Angeles, the first to really point out the power of Twitter, mostly in a negative sense. Really, nobody goes to Twitter to be positive about anything, they go to Twitter to slam somebody. Often times they can do it in secret, although these fellows are doing it in public with no anonymity.
I think this was full of implications for the way that discourse is handled, because Twitter now is the new front page of everybody's political life now.
SCOTT: The Lovett quote, Judy, he says "tweets are the window into the internal frustrations of an administration and the arguments people make on the inside."
So what does that say about the mindset in this White House?
MILLER: I just can't begin to understand a White House that is unhappy with this press coverage. I mean, you know, when Spiro Agnew called us members of the writing class nattering nay-bombs of negativism everybody was shocked. But he didn't actually attach a name to a specific reporter and say you're a nattering nay-bomb.
Now, that's OK. Personification, assaults on person -- on individual reporters, that's fine. And I think that reflects a very sad state of affairs on the part of the White House and its relationship with the press.
SCOTT: They doth protest too much?
POWERS: And also I have to just say the picture from Politico, I mean, there's a war on women right there. Where are the women spokes people? I mean, that was like eight men, eight angry men -- white men -- I think they were all white, right? So, which normally has the media all frothed and upset. I can only imagine if that was Mitt Romney.
I just -- I have actually found -- I'm on Twitter a lot, and when I see some of the things that these guys say, it's just beneath the office of the president. And these are people even when they leave the White House are so closely aligned with the president there is a sort of expectation that they're going to behave -- like when they speak, they're speaking kind of on behalf of Obama. And just -- I find it's really beneath the office.
SCOTT: Let's move on to this, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer commented about the Drudge Report, the website, and its influence over the news cycle. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN PFEIFFER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: There's a Pavolvian response from, you know, some media outlets. It's like why are you asking me about this? Well, it's on Drudge, you know. And so, you know..
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say that?
PFEIFFER: Ask them to repeat that -- you know, say that to themselves out loud again and think about it. You know, and everyone's a little embarrassed about it. And it's always like my boss -- you know, my assignment editor is on me about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: So, Monica, the White House has a problem with the Drudge Report.
CROWLEY: Fancy that. I mean, just imagine that.
Look, the pesky free press. This White House is constantly complained about outlets that they feel don't cover them properly or cover them fairly. Every White House has a problem with the press at some point or another. The difference is that this particular White House calls them out by name. So this week it was the Drudge Report.
In the past this White House has waged a war on this network, on Fox News, waged war on talk radio, called out individual reporters by name, to smear them in the press or question their coverage. And it's all by way of trying to delegitimize either whole networks or whole institutions so that somehow you're shamed if you're going to the Drudge Report or you're tuning into Fox News.
SCOTT: And Kirsten who grew up in democratic politics is agreeing with you.
POWERS: Yeah, I mean, I think the thing that they do -- it's, what you just said is egregious, but take it another step which is what they're doing right here. They're actually telling reporters where they're allowed to get their information. And they did this on their war on Fox News. They went on CNN and said CNN, you're a legitimate, but we don't want you listening to Fox News. And Jake Tapper was the only one who really stood up and said anything and asked the White House press secretary who are you to tell us who is legitimate?
SCOTT: Coming up next on "News Watch," a real test of freedom of the press.
SCOTT: Remember this awful scene in Aurora, Colorado last July: 12 people killed, 70 injured when James Holmes allegedly unleashed a hail of bullets on an audience watching a movie. Holmes faces the death penalty in that attack.
The story has received a good deal of media attention. And now a member of the media has become part of the story. Jana Winter, an investigative reporter for FoxNews.com faces jail time for doing her job. Winter broke an exclusive story just a few days after the attack revealing that prior to the shooting, Holmes had sent a notebook to a psychiatrist. The notebook contained illustrations of a massacre, and according to Winter's source, was, quote, full of details about how he was going to kill people.
Winter's story cited unnamed law enforcement sources.
Well, Holmes's attorneys reacted, claiming the disclosures violated their client's right to a fair trial and demanded Winter reveal her sources.
Well, now it is up to judge Carlos Samour, Jr. who will decide whether or not Jana Winter needs to take the stand either to reveal her sources or go to jail. Judy, you went to jail for nearly three months to protect sources. What do you think about what is going on with Jana?
MILLER: Well, I think I'm the last print journalist to go to jail to protect sources. And I hope that Jana Winter is not going to have to make this choice.
We cannot do our jobs without confidential sources or we will be repeating just what the government tells us. That is not the role of a free press. People like Jana her need to be able to work. And everybody who cares about a free press should support her.
SCOTT: Holmes offered to plead guilty in this case? This doesn't seem to be a question about whether the information was accurate or not.
MILLER: No, it's not that. And by the way, on Friday the court released information that said that his psychiatrist, Holmes' psychiatrist said that she felt endangered by him and he posed a threat to the public, so her story is accurate.
SCOTT: You have said many times on this program, information wants to be free?
PINKERTON: I have and we also want a free press, and the first amendment does protects us. And look, this journalist -- the shield law is one of the hottest issues in journalism in the last 20 years. And so it's been astonishing to me, although maybe not astonishing that last time I checked, the Columbia Journalism Review, the American Journalism Review and the New York Times have not mentioned this case at all, because I guess if a reporter works far a mainstream outlet, they like it , and if they work at Fox, they don't care.
SCOTT: All right, that is a wrap on "News Watch" this week.
We will continue to keep an eye on Jana's case. She's back in court this week ahead.
Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Monica Crowley and Kirsten Powers. I'm Jon Scott. We'll see you again next week on Fox News Channel.
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