This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," August 24, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, HOST: On "Fox News Watch."
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you confident that you know everything that's going on within that agency and that you can say to the American people it is all done the right way?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yes, but what I have also said is that it can only work if the American people trust what's going on.
SCOTT: Mr. Obama trying to convince us that NSA's spying is for our own good. But as more details surface about the excessive effort should we be concerned? Are the media concerned?
Conflicts in the Middle East continue to heat up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allahu akbar!
SCOTT: Chemical attacks in Syria. Killing more than a thousand. The situation raising questions about our president's position. Is the press pushing for action? Violence against Christians on the rise in that region. Their plight being ignored by most in the media. The murder of a white college student by three bored teens in Oklahoma ignites more debate about race and crime. But this time the mainstream media don't seem to be interested.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome, everyone.
SCOTT: Al Jazeera America makes its debut. Will Americans buy what they are selling? And if dark clouds are bothering your White House, why not bring in something sunny?
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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. Daily Beast columnist Kirsten Powers. And Fox News contributor Richard Grenell. I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
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OBAMA: We can and must be more transparent. So I directed the intelligence community to make public as much information about these programs as possible. All these steps are designed to ensure that the American people can trust their efforts are in line with our interests and our values. And to others around the world I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people. Our intelligence is focused, above all, on finding the information that's necessary to protect our people and in many cases protect our allies.
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SCOTT: That was the president earlier this month trying to convince Americans his administration is doing all it can to be transparent in regard to the NSA collection of data. This week, a 2011 declassified report was released. It shows that the agency scooped up as many as 56,000 e-mails and other communications from Americans with no connection to terrorism. The report also included the opinions from the then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. Judge John Bates writing, "For the first time, the government has now advised the court that the volume and nature of the information it has been collecting is fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe."
Media reaction to all of the new details about the NSA's spying has been mixed. Although some in the press are beginning to turn up the heat. Questioning what the president and his administration are telling us. Jeff Jarvis at The Guardian writes -- "The punch line of the Snowden affair, when we can't trust what government tells us we come to trust those who government doesn't trust. Thus we no longer necessarily care what the official line is. And who delivers it. And when that happens, access, the currency of the beltway becomes worthless. Ah, the irony."
So, Jim, this report was out. It was prepared, I should say, before the president made those comments and before the president made some changes to the way the NSA operates.
JIM PINKERTON, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: Right.
SCOTT: So, should we trust everything now .
PINKERTON: The old joke, we are going to hear from the government to help you - protect you, it's - it's - look, Peggy Noonan wrote a terrific column on Friday, in which she said that the net result of all this is to turn Americans into, quote, solemnly paranoid in terms of this - fatalism -- no, I think they might be angry - angry as well. But look, this -- if I were the president I would just stop making statements that seem to be undercut by his own actions a week or two later.
SCOTT: What about the mainstream media coverage? It seems to have sort of -- dismissed this scandal, Judy?
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think it did. I think The Wall Street Journal and "The New York Times" stories on the NSA ruling that -- you know, the 2011 ruling that we were just talking about, really raises some profound questions about whether or not these are just kind of accidental whoopses in the system or there was a policy, which was unconstitutional. I don't -- I don't think that that means -- I think that indicates the media are finally taking this story very seriously. And that the -- trust me is being replaced by the - trust, but verified mantra of President Reagan. The media should be upset.
SCOTT: And Rick, we have been told that this is all supervised by the FISA court, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court. But the chief judge at the time said hey, they were pulling the wool over our eyes here.
RICK GRENELL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. There's really been problems all the way around. You will notice that the U.S. media is really beginning to say that this is about the U.S. government or our government. They are really not fingering Obama on this. However, there is a piece in the Atlantic this week by Philip Bump and he points out that President Obama's independent review board is not independent at all. And I think what we are seeing week is a real unraveling where the media are only beginning to say this is Obama's fault, not just the U.S. government or the government.
SCOTT: And then there was sort of a side media story this week. Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who along with Edward Snowden, broke the story of the NSA surveillance. His partner, guy named David Miranda, was detained by British officials for nine hours on a -- terrorism charge of some sort. And some of his personal property was seized. Any reaction from the media?
KIRSTEN POWERS, DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST & USA TODAY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, I think that there's everybody - pretty much was horrified by this. I don't think Obama has the media on his side on this issue, particularly because they've targeted the media, so that worked against them from the beginning. But the Glenn Greenwald thing was completely outrageous, because he was held for nine hours, which under the law, in which they were holding him, you can hold somebody up to nine hours. They literally kept him as long as you possible could, he hasn't done anything other than being - in a relationship with Glenn Greenwald who is a journalist and is allowed to do what he is doing. So, and then it was reported that the United States knew ahead of time that this was going to happen, so, you know, the administration should be held accountable for this.
SCOTT: But then Greenwald's reaction was interesting, Cal. He says, "I will be far more aggressive in my reporting from now on, I'm going to publish many more documents. I'm going to publish things on England, too. I have many documents on England's spy system. I think they will be sorry for what they did." Now, is that what a journalist is supposed to do?
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, yes and no. But the International Herald Tribune this week had a front page story about this, and they interviewed Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian, and he made a very valid point. I think, he said -- our laws in Britain are different than American laws regarding journalists. As - Kirsten said, they interrogated this guy, this partner of Greenwald for nine hours. Now, this is just amazing. I mean, where do you go from there?
PINKERTON: Right. The -- interesting question is what -- connection this had back to the U.S. government. I mean, there's not been a lot of energetic reporting show and say, on whether -- how far in advance they knew about this. Whether the White House - the White House (inaudible). Yeah, we knew about it. We've got a heads-up. Well, that's not actually not quite the way it works in this Intel business.
MILLER: Under British law, they can hold someone for nine hours. What they -- Brits said was that Mr. Miranda was carrying stolen information. And they were holding him under the terrorism act. Now, we can quibble about whether or not that was the proper vehicle of law to hold him under, but he was acting as Glenn Greenwald's mule is what the British government alleged and that argument wasn't really made or heard well here in the United States.
PINKERTON: Is it by Jeffrey Toobin at CNN who repeated it verbatim?
POWERS: Yeah. I think it (inaudible). And I don't think -- I mean, his partner also works with him in the -- on his journalism. And so, I think that he has the same - should have the same protection as him .
GRENELL: Well, that's the poor argument, Kirsten.
POWERS: - No, it's not.
GRENELL: I think that's a really poor argument because Glenn Greenwald gave this information to a non-journalist. I don't care if they were married or if they are partners. The simple fact is that he gave it to a non-journalist. You completely give up your ability to say .
POWERS: How was - if he is working with Glenn on his journalism, he is not a non-journalist .