The following is a transcription of the April 1, 2006 edition of "FOX News Watch", that has been edited for clarity:
ERIC BURNS, HOST: It's time now for our "Quick Takes" on the media.
Headline No. 1: "Shakeup or Hype?"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earlier this month, Andy Card came to me and raised the possibility of stepping down as chief of staff. After five and a half years, he thought it might be time to return to private life. And this past weekend, I accepted Andy's resignation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNS: That was President Bush speaking from the Oval Office on Tuesday.
Cal, we are discussing this because of the use of the word "shakeup," which suggests controversy. I know some conservatives are upset about it, because they think the — the real term is "natural progression," "natural transition." As if I didn't know, as I pose this question... What do you think?
THOMAS: Well, look, the press loves these kinds of stories. It's inside-the-Beltway stuff. It's fascinating to us, but not to most of the rest of the country.
I wrote a column several weeks ago that said Bush needed a new shakeup in the staff. Fred Barnes had one in The Wall Street Journal last week, and is now taking credit for being a prophet, as well he should.
But these are the kinds of stories we like: who's up, who's down. The media are tired of writing stories of "Bush is a failure"; "The war is a failure." They want to write something else about Washington, and this is a good story for them. But it didn't go far enough.
GABLER: Actually, the media facilitated this.
GABLER: Because a lot of Republicans, I think, went to the media and said, Look it, we need to shake this up. And Howard Baker actually was cited on CBS as having said that.
So the media were used by Republicans who wanted to see the administration change. And now, of course, the media is saying they're underwhelmed by the change. So you can't win.
HALL: You know, The Washington Post story said, "Bush Listens to His Critics." And it actually said, you know, the media and the political culture basically called for this.
But I have to say, the editorials indicated people didn't think that he — you know, replacing one inner circle person with another inner circle person is not the same thing as firing Donald Rumsfeld, which is what some people think should be happening.
BURNS: That would be a shakeup.
GABLER: Don't hold your breath on that one.
PINKERTON: I think the media were torn between their affection for Andy Card, and the realization that he did, in fact, get pushed out.
BURNS: "Quick Take" headline No. 2: "The Sicilian Code."
Here is the cover of the Boston Herald on Thursday, showing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The photo was taken a few days earlier, after a reporter asked Scalia whether his participation in a Catholic Mass for lawyers might call into question his impartiality when it comes to matters of church and state. The paper says he made an obscene gesture, and this is it.
The Justice, in a letter to the editor says, "I responded jocularly with a gesture that consisted of fanning the fingers of my right hand under my chin. Seeing that the reporter did not understand, I said, `That's Sicilian,' and explained its meaning." According to Scalia, it means "I couldn't care less; it's no business of mine; count me out." — I'm half Italian. Trust me. That's not what it means!
Jim, the photographer — before we get into other things about this — the photographer who shot this photo got fired.
PINKERTON: Well, that is a — that is, you know...
BURNS: How about the editor who decided to run it, is there something wrong with it?
PINKERTON: Freedom of the press works both ways, including to do injustice to your employees.
I mean, now look, Scalia has gotten to that point in his life where he doesn't care, and chooses to pick fights. And this photographer was the victim.
BURNS: But it was a fair question to say: Is going to this Mass going to affect you? I mean, if — you know, if it was.
HALL: Well, yes. It might.
BURNS: I'm sorry, Jane. Go ahead.
HALL: My understanding is that the person who shot it was working for a religious — I believe that's correct — a religious publication, and is a professor of photojournalism.
BURNS: Yes, he is that.
HALL: And says, This is what — you know, that he — that — what's interesting is your dilemma as a reporter, I guess is: OK, he said that. Was he kidding? You know, do — he said Scalia said, You're not going to use that. Now, reporters often have that happen, where someone says, "This is what I really think. Oh my God — you're not going to use this."
And so, you know, I don't think the guy should have been fired for — for someone else's gesture.
THOMAS: In the first stories that I read, before I saw the picture, I thought they were a little misleading. It sounded to me — not being an Italian— maybe I misunderstood that he was flipping him the bird. But then I saw this, and according to you, that's as bad.
BURNS: Careful! Quickly, Neal...
GABLER: So much for judicial temperament that we kept on talking about.
But you know, the media also didn't mention that he prejudged a case without listening to oral argument. That's a much bigger story than this one.
BURNS: "Quick Take" headline No. 3: "Extreme Requirements?"
ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" has been one of the top 20 shows on network television this season. According to an e-mail obtained this week by the Web site thesmokinggun.com, ideal candidates for the show next season are victims of hate crimes and violent home invasions, families coping with a loss of a child killed by a drunk driver, victims of skin cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease and muscular dystrophy.
Which means, Neal, either that this show has a real heart, or that it's really pandering?
GABLER: Well, it depends on whether you're talking to ABC or not talking to ABC.
BURNS: I'm talking to you.
GABLER: Talking to me.
BURNS: I'm talking to you.
GABLER: It ain't charity. Let's face it. It may look like charity; it's not charity.
This is a program that exploits personal misfortune. And the greater the person's misfortune, the greater the exploitation. That's what they're doing here.
PINKERTON: It's like the invisible hand. You do it for your own self- interest, but people get help.
GABLER: They do. They do.
PINKERTON: It ain't charity, but it is charity. It's both.
BURNS: So it works both ways?
PINKERTON: It works both ways.
THOMAS: I'll tell you what I like about this — and my wife loves the show herself — but it's nice to see something in the culture now that isn't sleazy. People are being helped to overcome; they're being helped to a better life. It's positive.
GABLER: But this is sleazy!
HALL: Yes, I mean, it proves the worst impression you would have of a producer, which is they don't care about the people, they just want to book somebody with a dreaded disease.
PINKERTON: But the people still get helped.
THOMAS: That's right.
PINKERTON: That does mean something.
GABLER: Yes, but...
PINKERTON: It's better — it's better than "American Idol."
GABLER: It's showbiz charity, let's put it that way.
PINKERTON: Showbiz charity.
BURNS: OK, so we've got both of these things going on simultaneously. Good and bad.
BURNS: All right?
PINKERTON: But more showbiz than charity.
BURNS: See I could have said that at the beginning and just summed the whole thing up.
GABLER: Get rid of us!
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