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This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," May 11, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Big stories getting coverage this week -- in Cleveland, three young women kidnapped and held captive for more than ten years discovered and freed. The man responsible captured and charged.
In Phoenix, a four-month-long murder trial with lurid and graphic details comes to an end. The jury finding Jodi Arias guilty of killing her ex-boyfriend.
Congress hears testimony from key insiders about the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, revealing damaging information and raising real questions about the actions of our State Department and the Obama White House.
The Justice Department makes news with a report about gun violence.
New Jersey's governor had a big secret -- not anymore. South Carolina's former governor wins big in South Carolina. And a certain comedian is not so happy.
STEPHEN COLBERT: This scares me to my core.
SCOTT: Which stories made our "News Watch" list? Covering the coverage next on "News Watch."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller. Monica Crowley, radio talk show host. Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor of The American Conservative Magazine. And Daily Beast columnist Kirsten Powers. Also, Richard Grenell, former spokesman for the last four U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations. I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: So fast forward, Mr. Hicks, to the Sunday talk shows and ambassador Susan Rice. She blamed this attack on a video. In fact, she did it five different times. What was your reaction to that?
GREGORY HICKS, FORMER DEPUTY MISSION CHIEF IN LIBYA: I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Members of Congress hearing testimony from witnesses who had firsthand knowledge of the attacks on our U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, last September. The details they gave considered damaging to some in the State Department and the White House. But starting with the coverage of these hearings, Jim, the accusations in the media seem to parrot the usual line that these were -- well, that the A.P. labeled them GOP hearings to push an agenda designed to smear the president and maybe Hillary Clinton.
JIM PINKERTON, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Right. And the Washington Post referred to people worried about the story as Chick-fil-A eaters, which I guess is the new code for white middle class. However, as Peggy Noonan said in her column, in spite of the best druthers of the mainstream media, the story has punched through. And they've punched through in the person of Gregory Hicks, a name and a face that 4 0 years ago this summer was the Watergate hearings where John Dean became a household name. And I think we're seeing another case here where even the Washington Post, which has not been a fan of the story puts the widow of one of the heroes of Benghazi on this front page with Gregory Hicks in the foreground. This, you know, a picture's worth a thousand words, even in spite of the media attempted blackout.
SCOTT: And that headline officials calling facts on Benghazi withheld, the day after the hearings.
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
SCOTT: People are starting to discover the story.
MILLER: Yes, despite tremendous resistance on the part of the mainstream media. They really had to go out of their way to make sure they couldn't find any news. Even any news, some even still said they couldn't find any news in the hearing, which is why I want to salute, I guess, it's Bryan Preston of Jonah's (ph) media who found seven kind of astonishing new bits of information that really call into question the administration's credibility. Now we have competing sets of allegations about not only what happened before Benghazi, but much more important in terms of a "cover-up." What may have happened afterwards. And that's now where the media should be focused. I don't know if they will be, but perhaps they've been shamed into covering a legitimate news story.
SCOTT: Well, speaking of media attention, the Media Research Center, which admittedly is a conservative watchdog group took a poll, put a stopwatch to the coverage that this story got on the major cable networks. MSNBC gave it -- gave the hearings zero coverage. CNN gave them 17 minutes of live coverage. Fox News, an hour and eight minutes. Surprising to you at all, Kirsten?
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY & DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: No, I think it's part of the problem is showing the hearing would have actually discredited them, because I think if anybody had a chance to see it firsthand, they probably would start to realize, wow, this sort of sounds like what people have been saying, the accusations that people are making against the administration were being borne out. So I'm not remotely surprised by that.
SCOTT: So people who actually watched the hearings felt the gravity of the situation. I mean, saw the news value in what happened.
MONICA CROWLEY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yeah, and a lot of that has to do with television. It's the visual image of seeing these three whistleblowers being sworn in and testifying in front of Congress. What we do know about modern presidential scandals is it's very rarely the original crime or the original event that gets folks in trouble. It's almost always the cover-up, and the cover-up has almost always been a juicy target for journalists. But not so much this time. And until this week's hearings, Jon, we've seen a media that has been so willing to mock this story or to dismiss it as a Fox News story or a partisan witch hunt, or to ignore it altogether. In fact, the public editor of the New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, actually accused her own paper of ignoring the story, downplaying the story, which she even said had tremendous and significant news value.
POWERS: Yeah, and I think another interesting aspect to this is this claim that nobody should cover it, because it's being politicized, which would then mean nothing in Washington could ever be covered, right? I mean, the war on women, was that not politicized? That was a DNC talking point. The fact that Fox News covers something means you shouldn't cover it. Really? Because I've never noticed that when MSNBC was hysterical over Sandra Flucke, that nobody thought that was a reason to not cover it. There are some thing fundamentally really, really wrong with our media. And they need to take a look at themselves and do some accounting.
SCOTT: Rick, you spent a long career at the State Department. When you look at the coverage of these hearings, what strikes you as most important?
RICHARD GRENELL, FMR. SPKSMN, LAST 4 U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well, I think the media's becoming the story, let's face it. CBS News President David Rhodes and ABC news president Ben Sherwood, both of them have siblings that not only work at the White House, that not only work for President Obama, but they work at the NFC on foreign policy issues directly related to Benghazi. Let's call a spade a spade. Let's also show you why CNN did not go very far in covering these hearings because the CNN deputy bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is married to Hillary Clinton's deputy, Tom Nides. It is time for the media to start asking questions why are they not covering this. It's a family matter for some of them.
SCOTT: So, they don't want to bring embarrassment upon folks who -- who they're close to.
GRENELL: Who directly are related to this story. Absolutely. They're covering for them. There's no question about it.
PINKERTON: It's actually even worse than that, if it's possible. And that is, Cheryl Attkisson at CBS has been a hero of the story. She's had her own string of scoops for the last eight month. And although she got a nice write up in the Washington Post, which I'll give The Post credit for, Politico immediately responded with oh, you know, CBS management is really suspicious of her. They think she's become an advocate. And it's a strange world where your own network reporter is getting scoops and getting ratings. And your own -- your managers is what -- more conscious of keeping up with the Obama White House or telling her hey, cool it.
CROWLEY: Yeah. And you also have mounting evidence which we saw this week, too, of a White House and a State Department at the very highest levels engaging in lies and stonewalling, intimidation and bullying. If you reverse this and say, if this were a president John McCain or a president Mitt Romney, this media would be all over the story every single day.
POWERS: Still with President Bill Clinton -- I'm sorry, like I worked in the Clinton administration. I have never seen anything like this. Bill Clinton would not have gotten away with this.
SCOTT: Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard broke some stories about the contents of the emails that went out that night. Jonathan Carl at ABC went a little farther on Friday showing that Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, was leading the effort in a way to doctor or to -- to change the talking points that went out. At one point sending an e-mail that said "These changes don't resolve all of my issues or those of my building's leadership." That would point directly toward Hillary Clinton, I guess.
MILLER: Yes. I think that -- and the fact that it does actually led the Washington Post to write an article that said you see, this is political. This is political because the Republicans are already trying to knock down the person who's going to be the leading contender as the nominee for 2016 - I mean this is insane. It's getting to be just insane.
CROWLEY: Tyrone Woods, who is one of the former Navy SEALs who was killed that night in Benghazi, she went on with Bill O'Reilly the other night and she said the president of the United States, the secretary of state, and the U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, all looked at her directly in the eye and talked about the video as the cause of this. This was days later when they knew it was a terrorist attack.
SCOTT: All right. More on "News Watch" just ahead including some news you probably didn't hear about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: A new report gives good news about declining gun violence. But was the report bad news for the anti-gun media? Answers next on "News Watch."
SCOTT: A new report from the Department of Justice shows that from 1993 to 2011 firearm-related homicides have been on a steady decline in this country, down 39 percent. Now, that's good news. But that news may not be reaching most Americans. At least according to the Pew Research Center. A new poll asking, compared with 20 years have gun crimes gone up, down, or stayed the same, 56 percent think they've gone up. 12 percent say they've gone down. 26 percent say they have stayed the same. Rick, to you first. Is -- should the media be doing a better job of illuminating people here?
GRENELL: Yeah. I mean, of course we all know that, you know, gun violence, even one time is a tragedy. But it's clearly gone down in the media. They just don't want us to know. My favorite is, MSNBC immediately jumped on the story to say, well, that doesn't necessarily mean the problem is solved. We still have the problem, even though the deaths start decreasing. And so, they just can't admit that this is advocacy journalism at its best.
SCOTT: Or is it another case maybe like the Benghazi scandal of the media trying to ignore the facts?
PINKERTON: Well, it could be the case that the media has a gun control agenda that leaves them to trumpet school shootings and so on that pushed the country in a certain direction. I'm going to consider that possibility while (inaudible)
MILLER: Now, these are -- but these are facts that have to be put in context. And Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, yes, I know she's not a "news person," she's a commentator. But she did point out that there's still 11,000 deaths a year because of gun violence and that -- too, gun violence in America is worse than in any other Western industrialized country in the world. And three, that -- and I think this is the sad part, is that part of the reason people are living is that doctors are getting better at patching up those who are the victims of gun violence.
SCOTT: But it is more than that, Judy. The DOJ report also said that nonfatal firearm crimes declined 69 percent during that same period, '93 to 2011.
MILLER: That is also true.
SCOTT: And that didn't get much coverage.
POWERS: No. But I mean, I'm in the camp of -- one gun death is too many gun deaths. So, you know, and that's what the president has come out to say - so why they're not covering -- I don't know, they should inform people, but honestly, it doesn't really in my mind change anything. I don't think it was just the liberal media that was, you know, covering the Newtown shooting, Fox News spent a lot of time covering it. I think it was a national tragedy and something that we're all concerned about.
So, you know, on this one, I have to say I think that, you know, they should cover it. And it doesn't disprove that we need gun control.
CROWLEY: Right. But I do think that with the proliferation of so many media sources and the competition to cover stories like this, that are very tragic, you get an impression that there is a massive gun crime wave happening, and the statistics just don't bear that out. I do think mass shootings weigh more heavily on the national psyche, especially when you see children as victims or in a theater shooting kind of context because you can picture yourself there. And so, it has more reverberations, I think, among the media. But that doesn't mean that we're in the middle of some sort of crime wave, which is what the gun control advocates in the media want you to believe.
PINKERTON: Yeah, let's just keep in mind just outright advocacy here. For example, whenever there's a tornado, the media there to jump on it and say, that's global warming. That's global warming. The Atlantic on July 8, 2011, an era of tornadoes, how global warming causes wild winds. Now just -- the (inaudible) report linked to a story also from USA Today saying that tornadoes hit 60-year low. So, again, one goes from enormous wave of trend of what hurricanes tornadoes have done even nothing. Media bias.
SCOTT: And then there's Rick Grenell and there's Piers Morgan, the anti- gun host on CNN, who got an award from the Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence. Is there a bit of a conflict of interests there or ...
GRENELL: Well, he's being an advocate and they're happy that he's there. And every night pounding on his desk for this policy decision. You know, it's one thing to report the news when we have a tragedy like in Newtown. It's quite another then to shift the news debate into a policy debate that just shouldn't be there. I mean the evidence shows that gun violence is -- homicides are going down. So why are we then having a policy debate that we must fix this tragedy that's developing when we're doing a good job, we just need to enforce the laws that we have because it's working.
SCOTT: Coming up next on "News Watch," the New Jersey governor's big secret.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: It's not anybody else's business but mine.
ANNOUNCER: The big secret gets out, New Jersey's governor is slimming down. Was this real news or another chance for the press to make his weight a weighty issue? That's next on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: For this kind of attention to be drawn to the fact that I'm pursuing a weight loss measure is, I think, shows just how really shallow a lot of this coverage has become and why a lot of people ignore it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Taking his usual tone with the press, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reacting to the big story about his efforts to get smaller. He had a lap band installed to help shrink the stomach or control the stretching of it. Why?
CROWLEY: Well, I think a lot of media, they're just fascinated by Chris Christie. He's sort of a bombastic, charismatic personality. And I think a lot of people are already starting to look into the tea leaves for 2016. And if he is going to run, if he's serious about a run for the presidency, he's got to lose some weight. So a lot of people taking this as some sort of a political indicator that he is serious about running.
SCOTT: Rick, I don't know if this story made it out there to the West Coast, but everybody here seems to think this is all about him running for president.
GRENELL: Yeah. It's a ridiculous story. I hate even commenting on. I mean, the media are just so shallow here. I totally agree with Governor Christie. This is the buzzfeed politicking of our system and of our society. It's just ridiculous. And we shouldn't even be talking about it. Who cares if he's overweight?
SCOTT: He said he did it for his children and his wife. He wants to be there for them. And frankly, his weight was unhealthy and he knew it.
MILLER: Yeah. And he turned 50. And that's always a good time to reflect. But come on, if a guy like this takes a decision like that, I'm sure he's doing it for his wife and his children, but it may have political implications. And if you don't believe that, I've got a bridge I want to sell you or a tunnel I'm not going to build for you.
SCOTT: Are you saying you think the coverage was OK?
MILLER: I think the coverage is appropriate, yes.
POWERS: No, I think it's stupid and shallow.
PINKERTON: I think he's having his doughnut and eating it, too. That is he's getting the full Oprah treatment on the weight loss issue, and then meanwhile he's still into his usual shtick, blasting the media. He's having it both ways.
SCOTT: Let's talk about another story making headlines this week. In a special election for a congressional seat, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford made a political comeback, beating Democratic rival Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Sanford, no stranger to media scrutiny, was a hot topic in 2009 because of his uniquely strange extramarital affair. So the media did an awful lot to pile on Sanford. And his opponent, Colbert Busch, was something of a media darling. Are they going to be disappointed now that he's won?
CROWLEY: Oh, I think they're extremely disappointed, because they just went in a giant stampede to try to support the Democratic candidate here, despite the fact that she was ignorant on so many issues. She couldn't answer basic questions. And she was a bad retail candidate. On the day of the election, Sanford had ten events, she had zero. She voted and she went home. Yet they were out there cheerleading, because I think the bigger picture, they would have loved to have had a Democratic win here so they could hand Pelosi and the Democrats some momentum for next year, 2014.
SCOTT: We had Stephen Colbert up there on the screen because he is the sister of -- the brother of Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Rick, you know the governor fairly well.
GRENELL: I do. I was his first spokesman when he was congressman --
SCOTT: So is he back? Is he back?
GRENELL: Yeah, I got -- I got to tell you, I think he is. This is the first step for Mark to win back the trust of the voters. He messed up, and he's a good guy. And I think he will work very hard to try to win back the trust. Whether or not he can do it, it is up to the voters.
PINKERTON: Hats off to Erick Erickson and a few others on the right who said all along, if he runs against Nancy Pelosi, he'll win. And they were right.
SCOTT: All right. Next on "News Watch," how a tragic event helped advance news reporting coming up.
SCOTT: 76 years ago, a tragedy gave way to a revolution in news coverage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERBERT MORRISON: (inaudible), they (inaudible), to keep it from -- it burst into flames. (inaudible). Oh my, get out of the way, please. It's bursting into flames and it's (inaudible). This is terrible, this is one of the worst catastrophes in the world. (inaudible). Oh, poor 500 (inaudible) into the sky. It's a terrific blaze (ph), ladies and gentlemen. The smoke and the flames now, and the (inaudible). Not quite (inaudible). Oh the humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Radio announcer Herbert Morrison's historic narration edited to news reel footage of the Hindenburg disaster. His coverage was not live, but recorded and played back the next day. It was the first time recordings of a news event were ever broadcast, and also the first coast to coast radio broadcast. Morrison's quick, professional response and accurate description, along with his raw emotion, made the recordings a classic of audio history. And we could all learn something from his work.
That's a wrap on "News Watch" for this week. Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Monica Crowley, Kirsten Powers and Rick Grenell. I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for joining us today. Keep it here on the Fox News Channel. We'll see you again next week for another edition of "Fox News Watch."
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