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This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," April 27, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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JON SCOTT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Another busy week in the news business. The investigation of the Boston bombings in full swing. Details emerge about the terrorists and their plot. Federal officials try to explain how and why one terrorist flew under the radar even after they knew he was a potential threat. The suspect's parents claiming it's all a setup. Their little angels framed. Another terror plot uncovered in Canada. Those terrorists tied to Al Qaeda. Gruesome murder trial of abortion Dr. Gosnell goes to the jury. The details still too much for some in the media. The Associated Press gets punked with a fake tweet that causes a major market meltdown. And it's pump and ceremony as the former president celebrates his legacy.
Which stories made the rundown? Find out next on "News Watch."
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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 Ellen Ratner, bureau chief of Talk Radio News Service. I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
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SCOTT: Nearly two weeks ago, two bombs exploded killing three injuring more than 260 in Boston. The terrorist act hijacked media coverage. The press going all out to cover every angle of the developing story. Let's start with a Fox News poll on how all of this coverage was perceived. When it came to approval ratings of the various agencies and authorities involved. Law enforcement got a 91 percent approval rating. The Obama administration got a 71 percent approval rating on its handling of the Boston marathon bombings and the media, Jim, got 55 percent. Does that surprise you?
JIM PINKERTON, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: No, I think the media had a tough time struggling with the imperative to be first and then being accurate. At the same time, it was too hard for them in the first few days. But I think since then we have sort of seen four stories bubble up. The first was the effort to blame it on the militias and taxpayers and so on, and Andrew Correll (ph) from Mediaite for wrote a great piece of ten worst media moments, including such usual suspects as Chris Matthews ...
SCOTT: We'll get to him in a minute.
PINKERTON: OK. We'll get to him in a minute. The other stories were he acted alone. There were no foreign influence, they knew immediately, according to The Washington Post and Brian Williams and NBC, there was no connection, no foreigners at all. Then they went from there to Obama administration did fine. And so, when Director Clapper said we connected all the dots. That was just like Napolitano three years ago, that is the latest story. The fourth one, which only Fox News and Megyn Kelly has been interested in, is why were these guys on welfare during the time? And (inaudible) financed the phones that they were using to help make the bombs.
SCOTT: Judy, you took note of the piece that Bernie Goldberg wrote, in which he said this -- "After a while, when a TV reporter went on the air to report something new, I said to myself, yeah, sure, I'll believe it when I see it. This is not good for an American institution whose credibility rating is somewhere around that of used car dealers. In a free country we need a mainstream media that we trust."
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. But I think that Bernie Goldberg pointed out some of the worst mistakes that people made. And the column really focused on those errors. I think CNN talking about the FBI and law enforcement looking for a dark skinned individual, the posting of two photos of ,quote, "bag men" as the New York Post called it, and it turned out to be totally innocent people. There was the terrible, terrible story of Salar Bahom (ph), the 17-year-old student who was listed as a suspect. I mean there was a lot to apologize for. And I think Bernie Goldberg shown the light on that this week.
SCOTT: Kathleen Carroll of the Associated Press said this in internal memo on Monday. We took a shellacking, a deserved one, for reporting that a suspect was in custody, when as the hours passed, that information begin to look wobbly. So, Ellen, how does something like that happen?
ELLEN RATNER, BUREAU CHIEF OF TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE: Well, because there is a rush. And is a rush -- and somebody said, get it first, but get it right. And that was Philip Swartz (ph) who said that. And it's interesting because the Washington Post's Eric Wemple said that A.P used only one anonymous source. However, I do have to say, having read all week The Boston Globe has done an amazing job this week.
SCOTT: Then there is Chris Matthews, he took some heat ...
PINKERTON: Oh, we have to go hit ...
SCOTT: He was trying to pin the bombings on right wing home-grown militia types. A.F. Branco put together this cartoon as a result of crysmet use.
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, as a kid we had a -- we had a little party game. At birthday parties, pin the tail on the donkey. And people like Chris Matthews and the rest of the libs want to pin the blame for something like this on right wing extremists, militia people, folks who hide out in the mountains waiting for the second or third coming, or whatever. The great reluctance of the media, they will blame everybody, except the people who are deserving of the blame. They want to withhold judgment on Muslims. They want to withhold judgment on Muslim terrorists. They don't want to make the connection. And this because the administration, and they play along with this together.
SCOTT: There was, Jim, a reluctance among some in the media even to call it terrorism. I mean does -- do you have to wait for the government to call it terrorism?
PINKERTON: If you wait for President Obama to use words Islamic terrorism in the same sentence. You'd wait a very long time. Look, the media don't want to make the administration look bad. This is their Achilles heel, everybody kind of senses it. We've let political correctness, you know, going back to the previous administration, suffuse the way we look at this issue, and the media are part of it.
SCOTT: It had been a long, long time since the 9/11 attacks. Do you think that the media sort of dropped the ball in terms of encouraging public awareness, you know, if you see something, say something?
MILLER: Well, I think it's part of what Jim was just talking about, which is playing into President Obama's extrication narrative from the Middle East. We don't have to worry. Problem solved. War in Iraq over, war in Afghanistan over. No problem here, because I got Osama bin Laden. Well, guess what? Radical Islam still exists and there are still people who pose a threat to this country, and this was an unfortunate, a terrible wake-up call for America again.
SCOTT: And then there was some media attempts that appeared to make an excuse for terrorism like this piece from Time magazine that appeared on the front page of CNN's Web site. It said, did boxing damage play a role in the Boston bombings? Suggesting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's brain may have been traumatized during the years he boxed. And that somehow may have explained what he decided to do in that finish line.
RATNER: Well, I happen to be a person who is actually passionate about putting people under MRI machines and looking what happened, but I want to say that ...
MILLER: Too late ...
RATNER: I understand. And -- but I think what is really interesting as we go forward and there has not been any media stories about that, is what do the HIPAA laws, which don't allow disclosure of information going to do with some of this information if somebody has somebody, perhaps, dangerous. And I think that is a whole area to be explored.
SCOTT: And then there was Tom Brokaw on "Meet the Press." Watch.
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TOM BROKAW: We have to work a lot harder at the motivation here. What prompts a young man to come to this country and still feel alienated from it to go back to Russia and do whatever he did. And I don't think we have examined that enough. I mean there was 24/7 coverage on television, a lot of newspaper print, and so on, but we've got to look at the roots of all this. Because it exists across the whole subcontinent and the Islamic world around the world.
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SCOTT: How about a young man coming to this country and embracing the freedoms and the opportunities it gave him?
THOMAS: Well, this is part not only of the media, but also many in government of the problem. The formula is wrong. And if your formula is wrong, your answer will never be correct. It isn't about what we do or don't do. It isn't about what Israel does or doesn't do. It is about their ideology, it is about the application of their religion and the media don't get this.
SCOTT: All right. Next on "News Watch," Bush 43 back in the news.
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GEORGE W. BUSH: The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.
ANNOUNCER: His legacy on review as the Bush presidential library opens in Dallas with big names and big media attention. Was the coverage fair or another chance for the press to push their anti-Bush agenda? The answer is next on "News Watch."
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DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS: What would your legacy be?
PERINO: And you have a story about ...
BUSH: I do have a story, I remember calling you and other members of the senior staff and telling you I just finished a biography of Washington and an analysis of his presidency. I say if they are still analyzing Washington, those of us in the Bush 43 administration don't need to worry about short term history. There was a need to be time in order to determine whether the decisions of any administration make sense.
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SCOTT: President George W. Bush hosting President Obama and three other former presidents at the dedication of his presidential library on Thursday. The event gave the media an opportunity to do a little Bush bashing and some of the old lines of attack came back. Jim.
PINKERTON: Some did, but I've got to tell you, I think President Bush had a pretty good week. The event itself was pretty powerful. I think his strategy over the last four years of being kind of quiet and not getting in every last argument. He's also had some help from unexpected place, as Ellen Ratner wrote a very nice piece about him, in which the headline was "President Bush Has Saved More Lives Than Any Other President in U.S. History." Which is -- his work in Africa. So, he is never going to be the media's favorite president by a long shot, but his coverage is following the rising opinion polls ...
SCOTT: Washington Post ABC poll has him at 47 percent approval, Ellen, 49 percent in a Fox News poll?
RATNER: Well, even a basher of President Bush Joan Walsh started out her article talking about how his numbers have changed. So, even people who did not like him and continue not to like him had to recognize in the media that his numbers have changed.
THOMAS: There were two really good columns in the Washington Post on Friday, one by the president's former chief speech writer Michael Gerson and even more powerful one by Charles Krauthammer. And Krauthammer's central point, I think is absolutely right. Whatever else you want to say about President Bush, pro or con, he kept the country safe. There was not another domestic terrorist attack under his watch and that counts for a lot.
SCOTT: So, why they focus on failures in the media coverage? You know, Katrina and the poor intelligence on the Gulf war?
MILLER: Possibly, it's Bush bashing nostalgia because it's clearly something bashing a president is something -- the media haven't been doing lately for the past five years or so. But also, I think that it -- there was a steady drum beat on the part of the left. I mean there was in that same Joan Walsh column that you referred to, Ellen, she also called him the worst president in history. And she suggested that the reason he was getting all the Republicans were climbing on board and being nice to him, was that they are "cleaning up the mess for Jeb Bush. I don't think that was right, I see ...
PINKERTON: In fact, I didn't mean to indicate all (ph). For example on the night that Diane Sawyer had the exclusive interview with the president -- former president on NBC News, which obviously, didn't get the interview and was kind of sore about it, David Gregory just savaged him for two or three minutes. And they -- they led -- the first image was President Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1st of 2000 -- , not his greatest day, as in retrospect, and NBC, I think made it really clear, look, if you don't give us the interview we will sock it to you.
SCOTT: Ellen, about liberal -- I am guessing you didn't vote for George W. Bush.
RATNER: No, I didn't.
SCOTT: But you are praising his work in Africa. President Obama praised him, President Carter praised him. They certainly had their differences over the year. Why can't the media at least ...
RATNER: I don't know. I mean, you know, most of these guys who rise to the top, or are close to it, they are all mixed sort of organizational people, if you know what I'm saying. They do some really good things, they do some really bad things, usually. And if you come in Washington for any period of time, that is pretty much everybody in this table has you get to know that.
SCOTT: Journalism is the first draft of history. So, what will this have -- what effect will this kind of coverage have on his legacy?
THOMAS: Well, I think it all depends. In a set of Nixon, it depends on who writes the history. And how you know. And I think the president in that little soundbite with Dana Perino was absolutely right, they are still analyzing George Washington. So, again, it depends on who does the writing. I think the key is, though, the result in Iraq and the Middle East, what happens there will have a lot to do with who writes what about him in the future.
SCOTT: Will Steven Spielberg make a movie on him.
PINKERTON: I guess ...
THOMAS: Oliver Stone, maybe.
SCOTT: Next on "News Watch," the media gets shamed in the covering a gruesome trial.
ANNOUNCER: An abortion doctor on trial, accused of murdering live babies from botched abortions and the media accused of a coverage blackout. And a bogus AP tweet reveals a potential disaster. Details next on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell on trial for murder, accused of killing four babies and a female patient. The case now in the hands of a jury has not received the front page type coverage it probably deserves. One critic of media failures has been Fox News contributor and frequent "News Watch" panelist Kirsten Powers who wrote this: "Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18th there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page. The revolting revelations of Gosnell's former staff who have been testifying to what they witnessed and did during late term abortions should shock anyone with a heart. So, the reasons for the lack of coverage according a Fox News poll, 41 percent say media bias, 26 percent say the story was too local. 17 percent say it is simply too gruesome. So, Jim, what effect did Kirsten's article have?
PINKERTON: I think she screened the country away to borrow a phrase from the New York Times history actually. I give credit to one person with a real strong voice who get something said if something is important. Although, I do agree with an analysis from that -- the poll there. It was exactly the reasons, local story and frankly, too gruesome to get into the end, of course, plenty (ph) media bias.
SCOTT: So if the facts are disturbing, Judy, there is a media blackout?
MILLER: Well, in some cases, yes. I mean usually in murder trials there is almost nothing that is so gruesome or unappealing that can't be covered. "GMA" did a 10-part series -- 10-parts -- on the Jodi Arias trial. So, come on. I mean this a case that should have been covered, it wasn't because in wasn't because in part of the bias of the media. I think that's hard to argue with that...
SCOTT: Michael Smerconish, MSNBC political analyst and talk radio host said this. "No sense of guilt is warranted. There is no causal connection between coverage of this case and bias to the extent that trial was being ignored, the oblivion extended to both ends of the political spectrum and was probably more attributable to the grisly evidence than anything else. There is only so much information anyone can take about blood-stained blankets, fetuses in jars and the cutting of infant spinal cords." Does he have a point?
RATNER: Well, he does, but he also pointed out -- he actually took Kirsten Powers and put her in the column and made it everywhere, at Columbus Dispatch, et cetera, but he also said that had it Sandra Fluke, it did make it to the front page, and Melinda Henneberger pointed out in the Washington Post that there had been no inspection in 17 years. The press did not pick up on that.
SCOTT: Is it the fact that reporters who, you know, generally seem to like, you know, abortion rights, are -- their judgment is being clouded by the facts of this case?
THOMAS: I don't think there is any question about it. There are two ways to be biased. In the way you cover a story and in the way you don't cover the story. And by not covering this and not showing us the pictures, not smuggling in cameras like they have done with some of the pregnancy centers to show alleged misinformation being handed out to women. But compare the non-coverage of the story to the over-coverage of the Michael Vick dog story. The quarterback for the then Philadelphia Eagles and the media were all over Michael Vick and his dogs fighting other dogs and dead dogs and pictures of dead dogs. Dead babies, they're squeamish, dead dogs, it's OK because it advances a policy they favor.
SCOTT: Just one media correction. He was at the timer the quarterback for Atlanta. Now, he is with the Eagles.
THOMAS: I don't follow, I'm a Redskins guy. What can I say? Thank you.
SCOTT: The Associated Press Twitter account was hacked on Tuesday. The bogus tweet reported President Obama was injured in explosions at the White House. The president was not hurt. That message fooled a lot of people. The market took a deep dive. The plunge wiped out more than $136 billion worth of the S&P 500 in just a couple of minutes. AP caught it and called it bogus. Jay Carney reported the president was fine and the financial markets recovered. In fact, they closed higher. But the question, Judy is, you know, does it show an over -reliance on Twitter in the world of journalism and maybe finance?
MILLER: Oh, it certainly does. And USA today had an extremely good article that said, hello everyone. Welcome to the face of modern terror. This is what cyber terror looks like, and this is the problem and the challenge that the government faces.
SCOTT: Is the lesson learned here, Jim?
PINKERTON: No, I don't think so at all. And Bloomberg Businessweek had a piece on high frequency trading. That's the term of our hearing. We're now going to learn about companies called like the Nip and Datasift and Topsey that sell Twitter information to these hedge funds that run these algorithms, and so on. And -- I think it's fair to say, nobody has any idea of what is going on. Like the London Well case, is we find out after the facts (inaudible) the disaster happened.
SCOTT: All right. Next, on "News Watch," what is a better job, do you think, a garbage man or a reporter?
SCOTT: CareerCast.com released its annual job ratings this week. The survey lists 200 jobs and rates them, they (inaudible) the environment, income, outlook and stress related to each position. Now, the top three, these are good jobs: Actuary, biomedical engineer and software engineer. Skipping ahead, number 87 is a sewage plant operator. Number 160 is garbage collector, number 187, a dishwasher. And at the very bottom of the list, number 200, a newspaper reporter. No surprise considering ever shrinking news rooms, tight budgets and competition from the Internet and high stress to meet short deadlines.
That is a wrap on "News Watch" this week. Thanks to our panel. I'm Jon Scott. We'll see you again next week.
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