This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," March 1, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: This week on "FOX News Watch," is there a media conspiracy against Hillary Clinton?
Why did this photo spark a battle between campaigns?
The clash between the GOP front runner and a radio talk show host.
Plus, does Ralph Nader deserve the attention of the press?
How Bill Buckley changed the media forever.
And Prince Harry's royal secret exposed.
First, the headlines, then us.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST : On the panel this week, marry Katharine Ham, townhall.com editor; syndicated columnist, Cal Thomas; Jane Hall from American University and columnist and FOX News analyst Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can I just point out that in the last several debates I seem to get the first question all the time. And I don't mind. I'll be happy to field them. But I do find it curious. And anybody saw "Saturday Night Live," maybe we should ask Obama if he's comfortable and needs another pillow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Hillary Clinton there in the most recent Democratic debate.
Cal, I always give you the first question. So today, I'm going to start with Jane.
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I hadn't noticed.
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: OK.
SCOTT: All right, Jane. They crunched the numbers after she protested. They found that in fact she's right. She does get the first question more often than not. What is wrong with that?
HALL: You know, unfortunately, she looked whiny. It's like the boys aren't playing fair with me. She's damned if she does, damned if he doesn't. But I do think that the more important thing is Tim Russert was much tougher, in my mind, on her. He asked, you promised to bring 200,000 jobs to my hometown, where are they? Bringing out things from 2003. He threw one tough question to Obama about foreign policy.
SCOTT: Isn't that the pitfall of being a candidate with a record? I mean, she has run for office.
HALL: It is a pitfall of being a candidate with a record. She's right. "Saturday Night Live" is also right. I think one of the feminist leaders said if Barack Obama had lipstick and long hair, he wouldn't have been this far along. There's some sexism here. Even though I think she has not run a good campaign.
SCOTT: Is she getting mistreated by the media, Kirsten?
KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST & FOX NEWS ANALYST: Yes, definitely. I think she's definitely getting mistreating. What is interesting, if you look — remember when she was the front-runner, way back when, and the guys would be up there and nobody could get any traction with her. So we came to a debate and with NBC again and they said we'll go after Hillary Clinton basically and they did. She was the front-runner. Now Obama is the front- runner and they're still going after Hillary Clinton.
So what is the problem? Why is she getting the tough questions? Why is she getting the first questions? And why are they showing bad videos about her? And why aren't they focused on him?
SCOTT: But, Mary Katharine, to the point that Jane touched on a moment ago, why? You have a national debate, down to two candidates now. You've got basically half the time. Why spend the first precious seconds of your answer complaining about the treatment you're getting?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, EDITOR, TOWNHALL.COM: Well, I know. It used to be the right wing conspiracy and now it's the media conspiracy. It's been a strange primary. I don't want to be on Hillary's side on this one, but I am. She did come off as a little whiny. but Tim Russert, I think his questions are fair, could have changed the face of this — could have change face of this race by asking Barack Obama the Russia question first, he would have been caught completely flat-footed and piggybacked her answer like there is no tomorrow.
SCOTT: So there is an advantage being the second one to respond to the question?
THOMAS: I suppose. There are rules in debates and who gets to go first. But look, Hillary Clinton is supposed to be the smartest woman in the world. Dan Rostenkowski said that. She's supposed to be tough. This campaign is supposed to show that she is tough now have be president of the United States. If she's whining and complaining about questions from Tim Russert, how can she stand up to Kim Jong Il, Ahmadinejad and the enemies of the world?
SCOTT: That is a good question — Jane?
HALL: Well, I do think we're still sort of screwed up in the country about women in power. I mean, he got a lot of softballs swoony rock star treatment. He's a hell of an order. My students are crazy about him. He's very compelling and he did very well during the debate.
Now it seems to me it's up to the Republicans — John McCain is now going after him. Hillary went after him about this committee and whether he held any hearings. It's not the media that's so far has been going after...
SCOTT: The question though about if troops were out of Iraq and the place blew up, would he go back in? That wasn't a softball question.
HALL: It wasn't a softball question. Most people would say he flubbed it. He didn't have a good answer.
POWERS: The media's job is to ask both of them questions. It's not just to focus on one person. And considering he's a front-runner, there's more of an onus to ask him questions. That's the problem.
I don't think Hillary is saying don't ask me tough questions. She's saying ask him tough questions, too. That's the problem.
THOMAS: I agree with that. Look, no other candidate running for president has ever had anybody like Chris Matthews say saying whenever I see or hear him, like Obama, I have this feeling running up my leg. Maybe we should arrange a date or something for him. That's amazing.
SCOTT: She's a strong woman. She likes to portray herself as such. There was a moment in the '92 campaign when she talked about not being like Tammy Wynnette and baking cookies and standing by her man. Why put out the plea for sympathy?
POWERS: Because I think this is actually a serious issue. The media coverage is — they have a legitimate gripe. They're not getting the same treatment.
If you go back and look at the beginning of the campaign, every mistake she made was highlighted and overblown. When he does similar things — take illegal immigration question. Remember she stumbled on it and it was front-page news. They asked him the same question the next week. he said the same exact thing. And nobody cared. That's just not balanced coverage.
SCOTT: Talk about coverage, there was the photo of Barack Obama. He was making a visit to Kenya, where his father was born. The picture came out of him on the recent visit. It was 1996 there. Came out on the Drudge website. And made quite a flap. He says whoever released it — and he didn't accuse the Clinton campaign directly. He says whoever released it wasn't trying to help his campaign.
Did it hurt his campaign, marry Katharine?
HAM: Well, I'm not sure it hurts a lot. The likelihood is that somebody in the Hillary camp was acting probably as a free agent and sent this out to Drudge and thought it would get the idea in folks' heads this guy has a turban on and his name is Obama. Maybe we should think about that. It's underhanded and a little tacky and shows desperation. It probably did more harm to Hillary's camp than his. They didn't deny it either.
SCOTT: They never did deny it. Was it — did it flash back on them, Cal?
THOMAS: Hey, look, here is the dirty little secret. The undertone here is that Obama might be a Muslim. Muslims equal evil. Evil means they're trying to destroy us. That's what the sub text of this was.
All presidents, Hillary Clinton, and first ladies, Bill Clinton, George Bush and others put on native garb when they go to the native country. No big deal. They look silly and maybe goofy the goofy. There was a direct reason for doing it. No one wants to acknowledge the reason, to smear Obama.
HAM: Didn't send him out with a picture of a kimono on.
POWERS: They did later in the day. Howard Wilson did come out and say I never saw this, I didn't approve it. It just happened later in the day.
SCOTT: It got out from somewhere.
SCOTT: Time for a break. The Republican presidential race when we come back.
ANNOUNCER: Sorry! John McCain apologizes for a talk show host's words, but did the media lock on to the wrong message?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CUNNINGHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I've had it with John McCain. I'm going to endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: That's next on "news watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUNNINGHAM: At some point, the media will quit taking sides in this thing and maybe start covering Barack Hussein Obama the same way they covered Bush and Cheney and the same way they cover every Republican. I look forward to that day when truth comes. I look forward to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's radio talk show host Bill Cunningham introducing John McCain who then came out on stage and repudiated what Cunningham had to say there. So was he right in doing so? Let's talk about it with our panel.
HAM: Well, you know, it's silly to use the middle name. It's silly to deny you're using it for a reason, as for Maggie Williams to say why would Obama be offended by this picture? We all know what is going on. It sort of classless. It was good McCain repudiated it.
The funny thing about both situations, both campaigns said I don't want anything to do with this, it's all over the media and we're talking about it now. The hint keeps getting dropped.
SCOTT: Is middle name out of bounds, Jane?
HALL: It is his name. But as Cal said, it's code word for he goes to dinner with al-Qaeda.
HALL: That is what it's about and what people are trying to communicate.
I gather that Cunningham has said on this network, on his own air, and, you know, it's not like it was a surprise. But the weird thing to me was then Rush Limbaugh - people were saying that the sympathy vote for the over the "New York Times" story was lost by McCain for apologizing, which is beyond my ability to understand.
THOMAS: The point the conservative talk radio hosts were making is he should haven't backed down and a perfect opportunity to stand his ground.
What do you expect when you invite a guy like Bill Cunningham? He shakes up his audience and controversial. Reminds me of Don Imus at the correspondent's dinner Washington and gets up before president and Mrs. Clinton and makes crude jokes and remarks, sexual innuendo and people are shocked. Folks said at the time, wait, you invited Imus. What did you expect?
SCOTT: But the point he was making, Kirsten, is a point many on the panel made before earlier in the program, which is that the media don't seem to take as hard a look at Barack Obama, as they do at Hillary Clinton.
POWERS: Yeah, I think if he had stuck to the criticism, there probably wouldn't have been a problem.
SCOTT: Left out the middle name?
POWERS: Yeah, left out the Barack Hussein Obama thing over and over, because people feel that it's code he's a Muslim and we know there are been people sending around e-mails saying this. It's important to note, on the radio show, he says it all the time and at times referred to him as Barack Mohammed Hussein Obama. There's something else going on than just he claims he's saying it to show respect for his past.
SCOTT: Remember when Ann Richards effectively skewered the first President Bush in 1992 at the convention and did it invoking his middle name, George Herbert Walker Bush. Making him seem patrician and out of touch. Why is that OK and this is out of bounds?
POWERS: There is a difference calling someone patrician and calling them a terrorist. That's what we get down to. You can make fun and joke about people, but there is a back story for this. It's a problem with Barack Obama, people say he's not a Christian, saying he's a Muslim and going so far to say he's raised in a madrassa.
HAM: It's not without precedent of the left doing the same thing in a prejudiced way, going after George Felix Allen and tying that to his Jewish heritage, hoping it would tie into possible strains of anti-Semitism in Virginia. They were definitely headed that direction as well.
HALL: I was a big Ann Richards fan, but I think she lost people when she did. That she lost a lot of people who thought she was out of bounds.
I have don't get enough sense that people are censoring Cunningham for — I don't know what you call it, racism, terrorism. It's wrong.
THOMAS: He couldn't have got away with it if it was a racial slur. If he had taken and twisted his name in a racial stereotype, like an "Amos and Andy" going to the '50s or '60s, he would never get away with it. Because it's affiliated with Muslim slur, he's on the air and able to move forward, though McCain denounced it.
POWERS: Gets McCain back to what he's best at, yelling at other conservatives.
THOMAS: There you are.
SCOTT: Time for another break. We'll be back to talk about presidential candidate.
ANNOUNCER: He's running again. After getting nearly no votes last time, why are Ralph Nader's presidential plans still big news this time?
And from television to magazines and much more, the debt conservative journalism owes Bill Buckley, next on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RALPH NADER, (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In that context, I decided to run for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Ralph Nader speaking with Tim Russert last Sunday after a long run-up to Russert's question: Will you run?
So he is running.
Kirsten, what do Democrats think about that?
POWERS: You know, why? Why is he running? That's my question.
SCOTT: He says to snap back the White House from the corporate interests that have dominated the place.
POWERS: Every time he claims — I mean, now are we supposed to belief there is not a big enough difference between the Democratic and Republican Party? That was the original justification way back when. There is a pretty big difference. It doesn't get any more different between John McCain and Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. We don't need Ralph Nader.
THOMAS: It takes a political air bag to mix a metaphor for things forced to have the cars. Democrats still blame him, and with some justification, for Al Gore's loss in losing Florida in 2000. He won't get many votes, but in a close race, which this could turn out to be, peeling off the Dennis Kucinich vote might make the difference.
SCOTT: He got almost 3 percent in 2000. He got .3 percent in 2004. I don't know. Is that enough to be a factor, Jane?
HALL: Well, you know, I think that he's one of those — he's now kind of famous for being famous. He's been around a long time. And he did famously say there wasn't a dime's worth of difference in the last election. A lot of people thought it cost Gore the election. Now he's not really going to deliver anything.
I find it interesting — you know, Ron Paul, I think part of this is yuppie media people. Ron Paul has a lot more support among young voters and is getting zero coverage and he's treated like kind of a gnat at the debates he's been allowed in on. They know who he is and so they're going to let him talk. I don't agree it with.
SCOTT: I met Ralph Nader years ago, interviewed him at his office. Charming guy. Very sincere, or at least - sincere, or he was then. But if he's not a factor, why does Tim Russert let him on?
HAM: In a close election, he could possibly be a factor, but Tim Russert is giving him the platform from which to launch that. I for one think he's one of the most exhilarating candidates of our time.
SCOTT: You hope a lot of people vote for him, is that right?
HAM: Frankly, I believe Cynthia McKinney is running on the green party ticket. If we had her and Ron Paul debating, I think we'd all be happy and have one of the most entertaining times of the election.
THOMAS: It's interesting though where people announce. Remember, you had Fred Thompson on the "Tonight Show" and you've got Nader on "Meet the Press." Then, of course, Obama shows up on Ellen DeGeneres. An interesting mix out there.
SCOTT: And it is curious, I mean, Nader has been excoriated in the press. The "New York Times" really slammed him for running. Is that the job of the press, to tell somebody they can't run for president, or shouldn't run for president?
POWERS: No, it's not the job of the press, but it's an interesting point, the question you asked, what was he doing on "Meet the Press"? That was my reaction. I thought, how does he get this platform. You know how hard is it to get on "Meet the Press?" How does he get there? We're in the middle of a contested election.
HAM: If Alan Keys were running for president tomorrow and run for independent, would he get a slot on "Meet the Press"?
SCOTT: We need to talk about William F. Buckley Jr., who died this week, the founder of the "National Review," 82 years old.
Cal, the conservative movement, would it exist without him?
THOMAS: Probably not in the current form. Bill brought intellectual depth, incredible wit and talent. I introduced him once at a dinner and I said, you know, it didn't bother me that you wrote the column, the books, the novels, even you sailed around the world. When you built a harpsichord from scratch and played it at Carnegie Hall, don't you think it was pouring it on too much? Wonderful man.
SCOTT: Kirsten, even among political opponents there had to be a lot of admiration.
POWERS: We need more people like him in the world, frankly. It feels like he's part of an era that's past and you could hope there would be more people like him who can actually have a civilized conversation with his adversaries on his TV show. We don't see anything like that anymore.
SCOTT: They were great debates.
We have to take one more break.
Prince Harry at war in Afghanistan. Why did the media expose his secret mission?
SCOTT: Prince Harry, third in line for the British throne, has been fighting on the front lines. He has been in Afghanistan for the last ten weeks. Only a small handful of people knew about it until now.
Apparently, the British media agreed to keep Harry's deployment a secret. Now the secret is out.
Here's what the British defense minister, Des Browne, had to say: "I am delighted that Prince Harry has had the opportunity to serve on operations in Afghanistan with his battle group. The British media have shown great restraint in not reporting his deployment and I would like to thank them for doing so. It is however a great pity that the news has now been broken by media overseas."
Apparently, an Australian paper put it on their web site back in January. Then a German paper put it out there. Finally, Matt Drudge broke the story on Thursday of this week.
Was that fair or unfair, Jane Hall?
HALL: Once Matt Drudge broke, if it was all over the world, which shows he is very influential. I think actually the British media were right to hold off. In the old days they used to say you couldn't broadcast troop movements. He would be in grave danger of that was the fear. They didn't let him go when it first came out that he wanted to go. I think it is OK in this instance, they held off, and regrettable it is out there.
SCOTT: Been a big backlash against the Australian paper that put the word out but there is a backlash against the British media. Some suggest by entering into this agreement, Cal, with the army and the authorities, that the British people won't trust them again.
THOMAS: Well, not trusting the media? Who knew? Look, there is no reason to leak this. It did put his life in danger. It might have put it in further danger. The fact that it was on the Australian newspaper web page, al-Qaeda could have known about this long before Drudge did it.
I this is commendable Prince Harry would go do this. It is also commendable the British press exercised a rare moment of restraint and responsibility.
But everybody should have known that something was up because the tabloids had been covering his late night exploits for some time. And the fact that he wasn't drunk and throwing up in the streets for several weeks in a row, somebody should have known something was up about that.
SCOTT: All right.
And since when do the British officials, when do they praise the British media. That's the interesting thing here.
That's going to wrap up our show for this week.
Thanks to Jane Hall, Mary Katharine Ham, Cal Thomas and Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott. We thank you for watching. Stay with FOX for the latest news and more. The "FOX Report" is coming right up.
For more information and exclusive content related to "FOX News Watch" go to www.foxnews.com/foxnewswatch
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