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This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," July 27, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: With this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball.
RICK FOLBAUM, GUEST HOST: More details emerge about the IRS targeting conservative groups.
REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-CALIF.: You said you only worked on Tea Party groups. Is that correct?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2010, that's correct.
FOLBAUM: Why are the mainstream media ignoring the details? A New York Times reporter fights to protect his sources and tries to stay out of jail. And have you met Carlos Danger? Former Congressman Anthony Weiner faces the media after admitting to more sexting. How many passes will the press give him? Plus, a mega media blitz for William and Kate's new prince. Covering the coverage next on "News Watch. "
FOLBAUM: And on the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller. Radio talk show host Monica Crowley. Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor to the American Conservative magazine. Merrill Brown, director of Montclair State University School of Communication and Media. And Fox News contributor Rick Grenell. I'm Rick Folbaum. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We are actually poised to reverse the forces that battered the middle class for so long and start building an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead. But -- and here's the big but. I'm here to tell you today that we are not there yet. We all know that. We are not there yet. We have got more work to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOLBAUM: President Obama at Knox College in Illinois on Wednesday. This is the exact same place where back in 2005, then Senator Obama laid out his economic vision for the country. And Jim, a lot of times you and fellow conservatives like you have said that the media is giving the president a free pass. But he comes out with this speech. He announces a series of speeches about the future of the country. And a lot of the media aren't buying it. I have seen a lot of critical headlines. What do you think?
JIM PINKERTON, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE: Right, you kind of expect Charles Krauthammer would say that he's still running for president again. He's got nothing better to do than campaign. The Wall Street Journal would point out that incomes have fallen steadily since the recession ended. But you are right. As John Nolte (ph) pointed out, ABC News, Chuck Todd, Ben White, Dana Milbank, these are all big foot media reporters, and they have all -- I mean, Chuck Todd called it deja pivot. Like this is the 10th or 17th pivot back to the economy. There is a lot of cynicism from his base.
FOLBAUM: You mentioned Dana Milbank. And Judy, Milbank, with "the Washington Post," of course, wrote this week that the very fact that the president feels the need to go out and talk about bold, new, aggressive ideas actually shows that he doesn't have any.
JUDY MILLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. It was a very tough column. Even MSNBC, which just loves President Obama and everything he does, was kind of hard-pressed to figure out why he would be dwelling on an issue that clearly doesn't play for him very well, since income -- average income has fallen by 4 percent for the middle class since the end of the recession. That middle class problem, the gap between the rich and poor, which is so important in this issue, you know, reporters just don't like to look at it.
FOLBAUM: Let's take a look at some Fox News polls that came out this week. Voters asked, has the Obama administration made the economy better or worse? And you can see here, you know, you have better, only 43 percent. Worse, 44 percent. And you can compare those numbers to a year ago this time. And then people asked, do you see any signs that the economy has begun to turn the corner? And a whopping 57 percent of people say no.
And Monica, the president's approval numbers are down as well. Also, around 46, 47 percent. I wonder if his approval numbers within the media are down as well.
MONICA CROWLEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I'm not sure I would quite go that far. I would love to see those approval numbers in the media. But you guys are right. The media has been generally more skeptical about this latest pivot to jobs and the economy, because Weekly Standard did by their count, it was his 19th pivot. So the idea that somehow the president would expect the media as well as the public to go along with the idea that this 19th speech would somehow be different from the previous 18, what we got was the exact same rhetoric from this president as we have gotten over the last five years. More class warfare, more radical wealth redistribution. More talk about fair shots and fair deals. And I think it falls on deaf ears at this point. It is sort of like the boy that cried wolf. At this point the economy hasn't improved. In fact, it's just sort of bubbling along on a plateau. We are nowhere near the kind of growth that the American engine of economic growth and opportunity should be. And I think the American people are feeling this on the ground. The media certainly sees this.
And the danger zone for any president is when the American public tunes them out and the media gets bored with them. And as dynamic a character as President Obama still is, I think he is now in that danger zone.
FOLBAUM: Merrill, is that where we are?
MERRILL BROWN, MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY: I don't think that's precisely where we are. Obama still has three and a half years of a presidency left. Consumer numbers measured by Michigan are up. The stock market is very positive. I applaud the fact that at least he is trying and trying to change the conversation from things that are somewhat more trivial to things that really matter to the American people.
FOLBAUM: Rick, I don't want to ignore you out there in Los Angeles. You know, even with all of this critical coverage of the president's economic policies, the media is still talking about the Republican Party and their constant attempts to beat down any kind of idea that the president puts out there, like it should be surprising that the opposition party would try to put down the president's ideas.
RICHARD GRENELL, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR U.N. AMBASSADORS: Yeah. I was going to bring up the fact that there is one reporter who didn't get the message. And that was Jonathan Weissman (ph) from the New York Times. Let me just read to you his first paragraph above the fold in The New York Times in the setup piece for the president's speech. He wrote, "The GOP will gut the budget, the sharpest cuts in the generation from the GOP, they will hold hostage the budget unless it is stripped." That was the setup. The New York Times is playing right into the campaign rhetoric of this president.
FOLBAUM: Jim, how do you see it? The coverage of the Republicans versus the coverage of the president.
PINKERTON: Right. Again, the president suffers from a cynical media that aren't as enthusiastic as they used to be, by a long shot. And Republicans suffer from a relentlessly hostile media that still looks to blame them. I mean, Brian Williams was highlighting the congressional approval rating and setting it up as if that was all the Republicans' fault. Actually, there are two parties in Congress, and the Democrats actually control one of those two chambers.
FOLBAUM: Monica, is there anything the Republicans can do to sort of even the playing field a little bit?
CROWLEY: Very tough for them. Look, they have got to come out with a consistent message, which I think they've done over the last couple of years on the economy, job growth, tax reform, the need for entitlement reform. Very tough to punch through though, especially when you are competing with a president who still, despite all the skeptical coverage over the last week, still is on the president's side. The president believes, and rightfully so, he has got this huge megaphone and he can try to change the subject by directing the press to cover the latest speech on jobs and the economy. But it is all a distraction. It is a diversionary tactic to try to keep the press away. Not that they have been covering the IRS and Benghazi and the DOJ aggressively. But it is all a way to try to change the subject.
FOLBAUM: Hold on, I'm sorry. I don't mean to interrupt you, but we're going to have a lot more. Quick break. But first, can the media handle the IRS scandals?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's here. Britain's new prince dominates the coverage and headlines around the world. Yet the networks here at home are mum on the widening IRS scandal. That's next on "News Watch."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the IRS scandal is a phony scandal?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think what we have seen is inappropriate activity that the president came out and forcefully said he would not tolerate, and that he installed somebody at the IRS to take care of. What we have seen from Republicans is cherry-picked information based on investigations that turns out to be only one side of the story. Again and again and again, if you look up on Capitol Hill, when Chairman Issa and others have selectively released information and refused to release the full facts. The full facts show that the story is quite different. And I think you can - it is demonstrated by the way the press has, you know, gotten extremely excited about the potential for a scandal and basically dropped it when the facts have come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOLBAUM: That of course Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, talking to Joe Scarborough on MSNBC about the IRS scandal, claiming that the Republicans and the press are trying to make something out of nothing. And what about that term, Merrill, phony scandals, what do you think?
BROWN: Well, he didn't think it was phony when it came out. He thought it was legitimate, thought that the Congress and the investigators internally should get to the bottom of it. I think we can all agree at this table that we ought to get to the bottom of it, because, just like so many of these scandals, we need to understand the process that got us here. I had a conversation with a reporter the other day about GSA. We all remember GSA, and to this day, I don't know and none of us really know what happened there and how it is in the government mindset you can spend millions of dollars on an (inaudible).
FOLBAUM: But, Rick, try as they might, the Republicans have not been able to prove that the IRS scandal reached all the way to the White House, that it was the White House's directive that led to those agents targeting conservative groups. Is that why the media is not covering this more?
GRENELL: No. I think that the Republicans have shown that this led to the White House. The deputy chief of staff and the chief of staff knew about this before they came clean. There's no question about that. But you do have people like CNN's Dana Bash just completely dismissing this whole thing as just partisan mudslinging. And what people like Dana do when they dismiss it is they don't get to the bottom of the facts.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution this week put forward a little piece of information that shows three top senior IRS officials who work in Washington, D.C., they actually live in Minneapolis, Dallas, and Atlanta, and they are billing taxpayers for their travel expenses. There is a scandal unfolding here. We are finding out more details. But most of the media are just dismissing it as partisan mudslinging, and they are missing the facts.
FOLBAUM: Judy, how do you see it?
MILLER: I totally agree that the media have not been onboard here. And I want to salute Peggy Noonan for not only sticking with this story and trying to find out, as Merrill said, what happened, but also explaining it in a clearer way that shows that there was White House involvement, there seems to be. We need more investigation into this, and it is an uphill battle with the media.
FOLBAUM: I wonder, though, Jim, if there isn't a problem, though, with labeling things as scandals when there may -- maybe they are not scandals. I think that everybody has sort of gotten scandal fatigued over the years so they question well, OK, you are calling it a scandal. But you are a politician. Of course you are going to call it a scandal.
PINKERTON: Fair point. But Lois Lerner took the Fifth. That's not a good sign. And Carter Hull, the outgoing IRS official, testified that this all went to Washington headquarters. But look, in the previous segment, we said the media were flat on the president's speech in Gailesburg (ph). One part they did pick up on reliably was that part about the phony scandals line that you played earlier, because I think the media said that, OK, that's our excuse now. We are with President Obama and Jay Carney. Nothing to see here. The media caravan moves on.
BROWN: And we still don't have clear data yet on this suggestion by the left that they were targeted in some proportional way as well. I want to understand that as a citizen.
CROWLEY: Here is how you know this is an authentic scandal and to be swept under the rug. President Nixon, article 2 of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon was just the simple fact that he talked about and suggested the potential use of the IRS against one or two political opponents. In this case, the IRS was actually used, not just in elite versus an elite way, like Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson and the Kennedys versus one or two elites who opposed them, but the IRS was used against broad sections of society. That's what makes this potentially the most dangerous scandal in U.S. history.
And the idea that last week, when we got all these new revelations according to Brent Bozell and the Media Research Center, the major broadcast networks spent one and a minutes on that, when it is going right to the doorstep of the president of the United States. Only CBS covered it, one and a half minutes, versus three full days of coverage on the royal baby. That tells you where the media is.
FOLBAUM: Don't jump ahead, we have the royal baby coming up later in the show. Judy.
MILLER: We had Richard Nixon actually involved in a cover-up. There has been no suggestion --
CROWLEY: The article of impeachment against Nixon was merely that he suggested, not that he went through with it, it never happened. In this case it actually happened.
MILLER: But you can't even say that with respect to Obama.
FOLBAUM: And that's what I was referring to earlier, President Obama himself has not yet been linked to any of this. We got plenty more straight ahead, including the royal baby. But also next on "News Watch," a test of freedom of the press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who resigned in shame after a sexting scandal, is now in the middle of a new one, and front-page news.
Plus, Britain's Prince George becomes the focus of a media tour de force, bringing us every little detail. Have the media gone royally mad? Answers next on "News Watch."
FOLBAUM: This is author and New York Times reporter James Risen, who wrote a book back in 2006 titled "State of War." Now, Mr. Risen has been called to testify in the criminal trial of a former CIA official who is charged with providing him classified information that he used in a chapter of his book. And now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Virginia ruled that Risen may not invoke his reporter privilege and keep his source confidential. Mr. Risen's response to the ruling, quote, "Although I am disappointed in the court's decision, I remain as resolved as ever to continue fighting. I will always protect my sources."
Judy, no one on this panel knows anything more than you do about shield laws and reporters protecting their sources. What is your take on your former colleague's situation?
MILLER: Well, I grieve for Jim. I know what he is going through. But I think we have to step back for a moment and look at it. There is really a long road here ahead, judicially. We have -- it's pretty clear that his counsel will request an entire hearing by all of the Fourth Circuit, all of the 12 judges, and not just the three who gave what has been roundly condemned in the press as a terrible, terrible, outrageous ruling. This is a ruling that I think we haven't had enough reporting on the fact that this flies in the face of other circuits that have said there is a reporter's privilege when it comes to testifying in a criminal trial as opposed to appearing before a grand jury.
FOLBAUM: Doesn't that just support the idea of needing some kind of a federal shield law here that would cover the whole country?
MILLER: Yes, but that is not a cure-all, because a federal shield law would only set up a balancing test between the government's need to know and a reporter's First Amendment right. It's not going to solve this problem, which is why I think the Obama administration after saying it would support it and then refusing to do so, is now in favor of letting a media shield law go forward. It's not going to help Jim Risen.
FOLBAUM: Go ahead, Rick.
GRENELL: The Washington Post and The New York Times are making this bed, because they have been benefiting from leaks from the Obama administration. So they will not come down hard on an Obama administration that is going after reporters. And it's very troublesome to see any administration go after reporters. I think they should go after the leakers. They should leave reporters alone. But this administration has been going after reporters like no other, and they are not being criticized, because the leakers, those reporters who are benefiting from the leaks are the ones who don't want to get anyone in trouble.
FOLBAUM: Go ahead, Jim.
PINKERTON: Yes, I mean, this case, plus the Glen Greenwald-Snowden case, plus the James Rosen case, plus the Jenna Winter (ph) case, this is probably the biggest media story of the year, even if it's buried in court proceedings as opposed to on the tabloids.
FOLBAUM: All right, more on that story of course, but also this week, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who you remember resigned from Congress in 2011 after a sexting scandal admitted Tuesday that online shenanigans didn't stop when he stepped down in disgrace. Here is how the New York papers covered the story this week. "Carlos Danger," referring to his online name, and "Beat It" in The Daily News. Monica, not talking about the story here, but the coverage of the story, and we're here in the New York media market, where it's nonstop. How have you found it?
CROWLEY: Yes, this is totally saturation coverage in New York City, and nationwide too, because you cannot make it up. From the details of this sordid psychodrama, to the names involved -- Anthony Weiner, Carlos Danger; the woman that he texted, her last name is Leathers. I mean, you cannot make it up. If you submitted this as a script to some of the screenwriters in Rick Grenell's L.A., they would reject it as too unbelievable.
Look, I think the coverage is because sex does sell, it is moving a lot of papers because people find this so outrageous and also very titillating. The question is, what does it mean for his political future going forward?
BROWN: Couple of substantive points though about the press on this. First of all, there is a New York bias in cable news that is frightening. There is a much more important story in this category I'd say is the one in San Diego, where a real office holder is accused of very significant things as an office holder. That is really important.
FOLBAUM: Mayor Filner.
BROWN: The second interesting media story here is the fact that finally, we're seeing a critique of his performance as a member of Congress, which actually is substantive and important, and as a member of Congress, his record rounds to about zero. That's what's really important about the circumstances here.
FOLBAUM: Well, we're going to keep on hearing about this story, because I think the general consensus is it's going to go on and on. We're going to take another quick break, and then when we come back on NEWS WATCH, a royal media baby blitz. Straight ahead.
FOLBAUM: To the excitement of the waiting media and millions and millions of television viewers, the press finally had their day with the arrival of a new royal baby. And then we got his name, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge is what he'll be called, and reporters spent a week camped outside of St. Mary's Hospital in London, with rumors and speculation running at a fever pitch.
And with the flash bulbs and the frenzy that accompanied the birth of their first child, William and Kate proudly showed him off. But can you believe this? There were some complaints from viewers over in Great Britain, the royal subjects, who were watching the BBC and they felt the coverage there was overboard and biased in favor of the monarchy. The BBC responded, "Over the past few days, the birth of the royal baby has been a lead story for BBC News, but our editors have taken care that other stories have been covered too. We have also been careful to feature a range of contributions and contributors and opinions across our coverage, including those who don't support the monarchy, or the attention that this event has caused."
Well, I guess you can't please everybody all the time, but good luck to the new parents. Congratulations. Looks like a cute little guy. And that is a wrap on this "Fox News Watch" this week. And thanks to our panel, Judy Miller and Jim Pinkerton, Monica Crowley, Merrill Brown, and Rick Grenell out in Los Angeles. I'm Rick Folbaum. Thanks for watching. Keep it right here on the Fox News Channel.
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