This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," June 1, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, HOST: On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller. Mediaite editor, Noah Rothman, Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor of The American Conservative Magazine, Ellen Ratner, bureau chief of talk radio news service and 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)
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: The free press is -- and might be the most important guarantee of liberty in this country. Certainly, the framers viewed it that way. That's why it's in the First Amendment. It is there because it's often the press that holds the government accountable, forces them to take responsibility. And what's astonishing to me is how the supporters of this president have served -- cast this aside. They belittled the attack on the media. You've even seen them say well, as long as people like Rosen weren't prosecuted, it's really not an attack on the media." That's really factually ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's well-known law professor Jonathan Turley with his take on the scandal over the Justice Department, his editorial ran under this headline, in USA Today, "The Attorney General Holder Must Go." The scandal involves, of course, spying on journalists. Turley wrote that column for USA Today, calling on Holder to get fired for his attacks on the news media. Judy, Turley called Eric Holder a sin eater. That's an 18th century religious term apparently. And his ...
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I had to look it up.
SCOTT: Yeah, in this context, it refers to someone who shields the president from his responsibilities. Is that what is going on here?
MILLER: Well, I think there is an element of that and in Ron Fournier at The National Journal did an explainer of what off the record is as opposed to on background, as opposed to - on, you know, look, this record, this meeting should have been on the record. There was no excuse for it being anything else because the sin is an egregious one.
SCOTT: Vigorous nods of agreement, I guess from Ellen Ratner.
ELLEN RATNER, BUREAU CHIEF OF TALK RADIO NEWS: Well, first of all, I want to give it to Holder, Eric Holder, and the Obama administration for single handedly uniting left and right journalists.
SCOTT: All right.
RATNER: All right. I mean it's, you know, and Jonathan Turley, who you just talked about, called it -- he called it the greatest attack on free press in decades in USA Today.
SCOTT: Noah, is that what's going on? We have a united front here?
NOAH ROTHMAN, EDITOR, MEDIAITE: We did. And I think this is probably a pretty good gambit on the part of the DOJ to sort of allow the press to be a part of this, to make them sort of somewhat culpable for what the DOJ was doing and allow them to bring them in and say, we, you know, are just trying to work out this working relationship and now you're just as culpable as we are in a coverup, essentially, in the targeting journalists.
SCOTT: Cover-up? Is that?
JIM PINKERTON, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Well, I think Noah makes a good point that Holder is trying to do the clinch on them and bring them in. And so, for example, Ellen you made -- and Judy you may detect outrage here. When I see the Washington Post headlines, this is page three of Friday's Post, Holder addresses media concerns, in a story that kind of reads like somewhere in between new elections in the Philippines or latest on Prince Harry ...
PINKERTON: I don't detect any outrage at all. I think this is a completely manageable story from the White House point of view. And when Chris Matthews, (inaudible) Jonathan Turley, this is Chris Matthews, and Chris Matthews said it was a "kerfufle", unquote. Believe me, they're not feeling the pain at all on this.
RATNER: I don't know. I hear people pretty angry. And I'll tell you, we called the Justice Department and asked them what radio people were invited to these meetings. They A, didn't return our calls. And two, so far as I can tell, no radio people were invited.
SCOTT: Noah, there is an MSNBC contributor, Michael Eric Dyson, who labeled Eric Holder the Moses of our time. We've got a lot of religious references ...
SCOTT: ... in the hour thus far. How does he get away with that statement? He's talking about the right wing effort to smear the attorney general.
ROTHMAN: Yes. He's a law giver. He's -- he was the essential -- the equivalent of handing down the laws from on high. And yeah, it was a very stream of thought, stream of consciousness kind of effort to exonerate Eric Holder and create him - make him some sort of a victim here. And it was very hand handed and it's been relatively correctly lampooned.
SCOTT: So Ric, you've spent a lot of time at the podium explaining how government works. There is a question as to whether or not Eric Holder committed perjury. He said he wasn't involved back on May 15th, in any attempt or that he knew nothing about any attempt to prosecute anyone in the press for disclosure of material. And then later it comes out that he was the one who approved this court order, this request to investigate James Rosen and even labeled him a Fox -- I'm sorry -- labeled him a co- conspirator. How does he get away with that?
RICHARD GRENELL, FMR. SPKSMN LAST FOUR U.S. AMBASSADORS TO U.N.: I'm not sure what people on the East Coast are drinking, because it's so obvious that he lied. If more people in Washington who lied actually got fired, we would fix Washington. Those of us on the outside are looking at Washington in the East Coast and laughing. Where are the journalists? Now would be a good time for some real journalists to stand up and separate themselves from the group think that's going on. Instead, though, we have Jack Shafer, who is a media critic for Reuters, who decides this week to attack James Rosen and say, you know, he's a sloppy journalist who got caught. That's not what we need with journalists right now. We need a free press who are going to stand up and call this what it is.
PINKERTON: I mentioned one who let the chips fall where they may, and that's Jordy Yager at The Hill who said look, there does appear to be a discrepancy between what Holder testified under oath to and what actually is the truth. And what the readers figure out for themselves. What do you think?
SCOTT: And then to say, well, we're going to charge him as a co- conspirator, we're going to tell the judge he's a co-conspirator, but we never intended to charge him criminally.
MILLER: Right. We're just going to lie to the judge in order to get the search warrant that we want to seize his records. But we wouldn't think of prosecuting him. I mean, how is it that every journalist in the country ...
GRENELL: Multiple judges, too, Judy, don't forget that.
MILLER: Pardon me? I mean
GRENELL: I'm sorry, but I'm saying multiple judges.
MILLER: Multiple, you know, well, there - that was - this was a separate issue over whether or not the warrant ought to be made public. But the seizing of the records and perhaps we still don't know whether or not Fox News was informed or not informed. There is a dispute over whose records were compromised. We have so many questions that journalists have stopped asking. And this -- and we're right in the middle of this scandal.
SCOTT: You eluded earlier to that off the record meeting that Eric Holder held this week with representatives of some news organizations, many, including Fox News, decided not to attend. Ron Fournier, again, from The National Journal wrote a list of bullet points, really, about that meeting and here was one of his more, I thought, interesting points. He says, "The media's fundamental job is to shine light in the darkest corners of government. If we stand for anything, it's transparency and accountability. Meeting secretly with Holder borders on hypocrisy." Ellen.
RATNER: Well, you are not going to get any disagreement from me. You know, it's interesting because The Reason magazine talked about that Eric Holder didn't even think about having these meetings until he was sitting reading the Washington Post at his kitchen table and finally it sunk in that maybe the media was upset with him.
MILLER: And the president was also troubled and therefore, he asked the attorney general to examine his own department and his own conduct and come up with recommendations for fixing the problem in 45 days.
SCOTT: All right.
MILLER: Excuse me. What's going on here?