• With: Jim Pinkerton, Judy Miller, Jedediah Bila, Ellen Ratner, Richard Grenell

    This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," August 10, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


    KELLY WRIGHT, GUEST HOST: What do you say to those cynics who go, oh, this is an overreaction to Benghazi?

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: One thing I've tried to do as president is not overreact.

    WRIGHT: President Obama makes a post-prime time appearance. Commenting on key issues and terror threats facing our nation. Was this the right venue to make news?

    The Washington Post gets bought by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos. How did the media react to the news? And what will this mean for the future of the newspaper business.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have got the Republican chairman -- I would say understandably miffed about these Hillary Clinton films.

    WRIGHT: Even some folks at NBC are against the peacock network's plan to produce a miniseries about Hillary Clinton to run before she runs for president. And the head of the RMC takes a stand. Demanding both NBC and CNN drop their Clinton projects. How will this fall in?

    Oprah speaks out about the Trayvon Martin shooting. Did her words help or hurt racial tensions?

    And Democrats have become the targets of "Late Night" jokes.

    JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT": Yesterday was the president's birthday. He didn't let work get in the way of having a good time. Look at this recent speech. Take a look at this.

    OBAMA: And you will interact with Americans from all walks of life because -- our citizens can learn from you, too.


    WRIGHT: All right, so on the panel this week, writer and the Fox News contributor Judy Miller, columnist and Fox News contributor Jedediah Bila, Jim Pinkerton contributing editor of the American Conservative Magazine. Ellen Ratner, talk radio news service bureau chief. And Fox News contributor, Richard Grenell. I'm Kelly Wright, "Fox News Watch" is on right now.


    OBAMA: The end of the war in Afghanistan does not mean the end of threats to our nation. As I said before, even as we decimated the Al Qaeda leadership that attacked us on 9/11, Al Qaeda affiliates and like-minded extremists still threaten our homeland. Still threaten our diplomatic facilities. Still threaten our businesses abroad. And we've got to take these threats seriously. And do all we can to confront them.


    WRIGHT: President Obama at Camp Pendleton earlier this week delivering a somber message about the threats we still face from Al Qaeda and other extremists. Mr. Obama also commented on the terror threats and the progress we have made against Al Qaeda when appearing on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno and again answering questions on the issue at a news conference at the White House Friday afternoon. And so we begin our topic of the discussion on "News Watch." Jim, "The Tonight Show," was it the right place, the proper place to talk about such weighty issues as terror alerts?

    JIM PINKERTON: Actually Jay Leno asked a lot of tougher questions ...

    WRIGHT: He did.

    PINKERTON: ... than did The New York Times. So, I guess, maybe it was better. Look, I have to confess, as an avid news consumer here, I'm suffering a little bit of whiplash because all through 2012 we were told Al Qaeda is on the run. Even after Benghazi last September, they are still on the run. And now we see -- you know, a situation where the embassy is being evacuated reminds me of watching the helicopters over the Saigon embassy in 1975 and -- you know, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on Friday, there was a sign from "anti-Morsi protesters" saying Obama, you can't fool your people in the world anymore. You finance and back terrorism. Now, that might be that's one protester. It's actually - but the general who is now in charge of Egypt, al-Sisi said pretty much the same thing to The Washington Post last week. So I'm having a hard time processing what's happening here. Maybe the mainstream media can help me sort it out.

    WRIGHT: Well, Judy, help us out with this. Was this the right venue or is the president doing the step by step process of getting away from the answering top questions by the mainstream media or the media organizations that typically ask them those kinds of questions?

    JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Kelly, I think that's his M.O. I mean he loves doing that. This was his sixth appearance on Jay Leno. I mean, clearly it is a lot easier to just shoot the bull with, you know, with Jay, than face the White House press corps, Ellen Ratner including. You know, who is going to ask tough questions because they know the issues. So, he goes around them. He goes around us all the time and we let him get away with it.

    PINKERTON: They don't ask tough questions.

    MILLER: Well, sometimes they do. Because they started ...

    WRIGHT: We've got Ellen right here, and I see Ellen from time to time at the White House. And we are there together.


    WRIGHT: And when the news briefing takes place with -- the president, do you people get around asking the tough questions?

    RATNER: I think they - I think people do ask tough questions. I think sometimes, you know, it is -- some of the TV people who want to get that clip on so they ask the same question time and time again in different ways. But I do think the tough questions are asked. And my view is as any time he can ask questions whether it is Jay Leno or anybody that would be go - good, but I have to say Politico came out with the quote of the week, he is campaigning to get back to being Barack Obama again.

    WRIGHT: I saw that.


    WRIGHT: What did you think about that, Jedediah?

    JEDEDIAH BILA, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: I thought for him it was the right venue because for this president, I think likability is key. And I think when you have issues like Benghazi, when you have a lot of circumstances where he has been on both sides of the issue, lots of stories changing, lots of inconsistency, both domestic and foreign policy-wise, I think it is important for him to get on TV and remind everyone: hey, guys, you still want to have a coffee with me. You still like me. I'm still the guy you voted for. So, I think for him that was a big win to choose ...

    WRIGHT: So, this is a president who wants to be popular, so he goes to a popular venue, Rich. In order to actually get the kind of support that he is looking for. What say you about his appearance on Jay Leno? It's a softer, gentler forum for him.

    RICHARD GRENELL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. I think Jedediah is right. Why not? I mean if I was the White House press secretary or director of communications I would continue doing as many softball interviews as possible. It is working for the president. Why not? It is the White House press corps that is failing, I mean, seriously, folks, if you just spent nine months watching candidate Obama throughout 2012 tell you that Al Qaeda was decimated and then now we are closing 22 embassies and consulates across North Africa and the Middle East, that doesn't ring true. There is a problem here. And the press should be all over this. However, the White House press is a joke. You know, on Friday, Jessica Yellin, who is the CNN White House correspondent, is tweeting out that, you know, sources are telling her that the White House is going to react in a big way to more transparency with -- when it comes to the NSA issues. That source is a White House person telling her they are just taking what the White House says and just regurgitating this.

    WRIGHT: Jim, I see you weighing in on this. So, you want to weigh in on this real quick. So, let me read something real quickly. It is an op-ed from "The Wall Street Journal." Ali Soufan who says "The disconnect lies in our failure to appreciate that while Al Qaeda Central has been badly weakened by U.S. counterterrorism efforts the group was never close to being extinguished. It adapted." Anyone else in the media see it the same way.

    PINKERTON: Well, I think that's correct. It's just not what we were told last year. Look, I mean, the president got away on Jay Leno saying, folks, we don't have a domestic spying program and the media and took that, too. I mean that the NSA does not exist. But Tom Bloomer at news busters caught a great example of where the media cover for the president on - at "The Tonight Show," he was talking about the geography of ports and he talked about the Gulf Coast ports.

    WRIGHT: Right.

    PINKERTON: And he - Charleston, Savannah and Jacksonville. Of course, on the Atlantic Ocean. And the media - and AP just in sort of - you know, the words to cover him on that. It reminds me of the professor saying 57 states back in 2008. Of course, the media didn't jump on that either.