This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," May 10, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
E.D. HILL, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This week on "FOX News Watch," is it all over for Hillary or are the media trying to ends the race?
Barbara Walters bears all in her book, but should she have spilled her sex secrets?
Gas prices going up. Are the media going overboard?
A horse goes down in the Derby, the press starts pointing fingers.
The president's daughter gets married. The press doesn't get an investigation. Will they crash the party?
First, the headlines.
(FOX NEWS BREAK)
HILL: On the panel this week, Jane Hall of the American university, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, and Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor and writer for the "American Conservative" magazine, Patricia Murphy, founder and editor of citizenjanepolitics.com, a nonpartisan web site.
And I'm E.D. Hill. "FOX News Watch' is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: Let me start you with the same simple question: Did it just end tonight?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC "MEET THE PRESS" MODERATOR: We now know who the Democratic nominee is going to be. And no one's going to dispute it, Keith.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: NBC's Tim Russert there, just after midnight on Wednesday morning. And Russert wasn't the only one making that declaration. Take a look at the headlines which appeared just a few hours later. "Toast!" declared the New York Post. "Obama cruises, Clinton clings," according to the L.A. Times. And, here's how Time magazine summed it up this week: "And the winner is -- [Picture of Barack Obama smiling] there's a little asterisk there, but I'm not sure anyone noticed it.
Cal, we'll start with you. Is there anything missing here, like letting voters decide, not journalists?
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED JOURNALIST: What a concept. There's nothing wrong in an election based on exit polls and actual raw data from people that already voted, projecting a winner. We do it all the time. All the networks do it, newspapers, wire services. It's quite something else, before even the prospective nominee has declared victory, for the media to declare victory. How about letting the process continue.
I'm with Hillary Clinton on this. Let him move forward. Let the people vote and there are plenty of things that can happen and have already happened in this campaign. I think it's irresponsible for the media to be declaring a winner when he doesn't have the delegates yet.
HILL: Patricia, do you think the media has the power to force this thing to an earlier close?
PATRICIA MURPHY, FOUNDER, CITIZENJANEPOLITICS.COM: I think they certainly have the power and they have demonstrated their power to indicate where they think it's going and to go ahead and just declare somebody dead. I would say the Hillary Clinton campaign came back and pushed back on NBC with an e-mail says why should we keep you in our press plane if you think this is already over. I think that's a pretty good point.
HILL: They don't want to lose that perk.
HILL: Jane, Obama has been accused, by Hillary Clinton, of being able to really play the press. In essence, call his own shots. And not be questioned as hard as she has been. Do you think that's accurate? Is it fair? Especially based what we saw on the headlines and the shows?
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think the ship has righted and the media are back with him to this degree. I think Reverend Wright, it would be hard to argue he got to dictate the message on that one. But now she is not doing well, he has to stand back. His surrogates and he are wisely not calling for her to leave.
It is true that the mass is certainly against her. But the morning shows, the next morning, George Stephanopoulos quoted the headlines in the New York tabloids. Chris Cuomo, who happens to be the son of a former Democratic governor, was asking isn't it time for her to get out. Why isn't she getting out? I think it shows how inflated the media senses themself. Is there a difference between, say, hey, it don't look good and why doesn't your lady get the hell out of the way, which is pretty much what they've been saying.
HILL: Let me ask you this. I'm wondering in the back of my mind if the media took the Clinton criticism they're too soft on Obama and then roughed him up, got a little tougher after the Wright scandal and then felt, OK, we made the show of being tough and fair. Now we can go to, we really felt better.
JIM PINKERTON, WRITER & CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: They really got hit -- George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson got hit hard in the lefty blogosphere for that debate with Obama. They think they all sort of quailed at the thought of doing that again. I think they're going back to their true love, which is Obama.
Jane raises a good point, another cult, as someone called it, the cult of Tim Russert and all the power he has. Predicting things in politics, that famous headline from 1948, Dewey beats Truman, that President Truman after being reelected and proving the "Chicago Tribune" held up as the famous photograph.
Look, as everybody says, it's way too early. Among other things, the plane could crash. Who knows what could happen.
HILL: Let's not bring that up.
PINKERTON: The point is, you never know. You just never know. That's why you check and double-check. More to the point wait until after it happens to say it happened.
THOMAS: The media has always seen themselves as equal players. They've moved beyond that now from kingmakers to kings. They think they are the ones to decide. That's arrogant and it's a contributing factor to why most of the public distrust the press less and less.
HILL: How did we get there? Patricia, we just hold the media, like us, accountable enough and they started feeling, OK, we can push the limit?
MURPHY: I think there is one other factor going on and I experienced it myself Wednesday morning. When you wake up to another Wednesday with no news story. Like, I can't believe this is going on and on. You love to have the news story but the facts just don't support it. They want to be writing news, not old news. It seems like old news that she's still in it, but she is. I think reporters are so itchy to pull the trigger and they just went ahead and did it.
HILL: We're going to continue watching this story. We've got apparently a while to go because Hillary Clinton showing no signs of dropping out.
Now it's time for a break. But first, if you want to hear what we're talking about during the commercial break, go to our Web site: foxnews.com/foxewswatch. We'll be back in two minutes with this...
ANNOUNCER: The first lady of TV news tells tales from her past, including illicit affairs. Did Barbara's book do more harm than good? Details next on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: You have to remember this is 30 years ago. If this were today, it would be different.
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "OPRAH": Right.
WALTERS: But the fact that he was married, also that he was black. It was a time I was negotiating to leave NBC for ABC. It was during that period, '74, '75, '76. We were in secret. Had this come out, it would have probably at the time ruined my career and his.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: ABC's Barbara Walters on Oprah earlier this week discussing her affair with former married Massachusetts Senator Ed Brook. That's one of the many revelations in Walter's new autobiography called "Audition."
Jane, as I'm listening to some of this it's like when your mom and dad start talking about stuff and you say hold on! I don't want to know. Were you surprised?
HALL: That had been rumored. I covered Barbara Walters and TV news many years from the "L.A. Times." It was interesting but I have to say I think it was smart of her to tell the story and tell it on Oprah if she wanted to go public with it.
HILL: For a business reason?
HALL: She said -- I mean, she said I'm not sure I should have been this candid. She was a real pioneer. She went from being a writer on the "Today" show to being a co-anchor. She writes that Frank McGee, her co- host at the time, got to ask three serious questions before she got to speak up. When she went to ABC, she was the first woman to do that and she was really chastised from making a million dollars.
HILL: The headline was married black Senator and Barbara Walters had affair.
HALL: She did it though.
PINKERTON: She did it to herself. She could have just written -- the stuff in the book about negotiations when she was in NBC, ABC, is extremely interesting about the corporate culture of television in the '70s. That was the excerpt from "Vanity Fair."
PINKERTON: She is one, for some crazy reason, she's 78 years old. She's incredibly rich, incredibly famous and she wants more, more, more. That means reveal her sex life.
HILL: For some -- again, for some crazy reason. Perhaps it's this reason according to Star Jones. This is Star Jones' quote. Star used to be on "The View." "It is a sad day when an icon like Barbara Walters, in the" -- ouch -- "sunset of her life, is reduced to publicly branding herself as an adulterer, humiliating an innocent family with accounts of her illicit affairs and speaking negatively against me, all for the sake of selling a book. It speaks to her true character."
THOMAS: I think the key phrase in that sentence is speaking negatively about me. Since when is adultery an evolving standard as she says in her book? And being a pioneering woman, did she care nothing about Senator Brooks' wife and the effect it would have on her and the example to the children? That bugs me a lot.
The second thing about this, I knew Frank McGee. I knew him well. I went to school with his daughter. I worked with him in the early '70s at NBC. He's was an accomplished journalist that came up the old fashioned way in the ranks. He was forced to take Barbara Walters in this politically correct environment of getting women on TV, no matter their backgrounds. No matter they didn't come up the same way as he did. It was a different dynamic. I understand his reaction because I shared some of it at the time. But, clearly, look at the...
HALL: He had been a writer ten years.
THOMAS: A writer.
THOMAS: But Frank wrote his own stuff.
PINKERTON: But she couldn't pronounce her R's.
MURPHY: I think it was brave for her to do this. She asked the most personal penetrating questions of people she has on her show. If she had done a memoir and not revealed the personal parts of her own life, it would have been complete hypocrisy.
HALL: Cal, you just took my line.
MURPHY: Write a memoir or don't, but don't go half-baked on a memoir. I think she went big and there it is.
HILL: It's a busy book world. If you want to write a book, you want it to sell. From that angle was she, again being a brilliant journalist?
MURPHY: Absolutely. She has one of the best story and she's telling it herself.
PINKERTON: Unless she's a journalist, in which case she wants to tell the truth and inform people. She just wants to make money. There's a huge difference.
HALL: You can do both, can't you? Look at your salary.
PINKERTON: The point is she destroyed her chance to make a genuine contribution, as Jane says, to the history of television news because she overclouded it with all that sorted stuff.
HALL: But we're to blame for reading that and not the history of American women in television. The other thing about her that is true, people that know her, she called it "Audition." There's a poignant personal story that she now, at 78, feels accomplished enough that she's not auditioning. She is a very interesting thing now.
HILL: She's running the show. What do you mean auditioning?
HALL: Yes, but there's a streak there. Everybody that worked with her at ABC has said that's true.
PINKERTON: Which speaks to the pathologies of a lot of these network talents.
HILL: We're going to take a break. When we come back, we'll have this.
ANNOUNCER: The dollar is down, gas prices up, and the economy tipsy. Has the press added to the frenzy? And a dark day at the Derby as a favorite Philly falls and the news media races to find blame. All next on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Consumers, folks, are so angry at the oil companies that for weeks now, the people of America's oil and natural gas industry have been forced to run full page ads in newspapers all over the country. Here's one I saw today in today's the "USA Today." OK? It asks, where does your gasoline dollar go. I actually thought that was a trick question because you cannot buy gas for a dollar.
As you can see here, 72 percent goes to the price of crude oil. Another 60 percent is eaten up by refining, distribution and service stations. And the last 12 percent is taken away by taxes. That's a total of 100 percent. That is right, nation, oil is a zero profit business.
I mean, they must have had a bake sale to pay for this ad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: All right. The media has been really driving this story.
Cal, let me start with you. Do you think it's been fair?
THOMAS: No. I think the media take a lot of the business they're getting from the environmentalists or liberal Democrats who want the issue rather than the solution. They don't give the other side.
I spoke this week to the vice chairman of Chevron, one of the major oil producers. He says there's almost never information on television about the enormous amount of money, billions of dollars they put into research.
The Democrats and the environmentalists are standing in the school house door, to mix a metaphor, against nuclear energy, against doing anything that will improve the situation. Most people don't know a new oil platform, for example, costs over a couple billion dollars. It's a lot of money to explore to get the oil that we have.
HILL: You own Exxon stock, don't you?
THOMAS: No, I don't. I don't own a share of it as far as I know.
HALL: Can I quote my Texas Daddy.
HALL: He said Texans against government support, especially with the depletion allowance. Then they're for it.
HALL: Please, no offense. I'm not going to weep a lot for the profits of the oil company. They are making record profits. We should be exploring alternative sources. And them to present themselves as...
PINKERTON: Exploring where the oil is, like Alaska. But from the media point of view, look, this is a joke here. First, the media said gas prices are going up, up, up. Hillary Clinton and McCain said let's cut the gas tax. They said not that. The opportunity in front of us, to cut gas prices, they're against because they're liberals and hate business, they're also snobs and hate the middle class.
HALL: Oh, please.
HILL: To bring this back to our original topic today, are the journalists, along with other interested parties, deciding this is the story, what you should think, what you should do, all that and they're directing and writing and reporting.
HALL: People are experiencing sticker shock when they have to pay $70 for gas.
PINKERTON: One thing about gas surprises that's unique, is you see the price everywhere you go. You drive down the street and see $3.79. That's sticks in here.
MURPHY: You also see it every time you open up your wallet. Nobody is inflating the stories. the gas prices have shot out of control. The media coverage -- I want to know why. I think there's been a slight disruption of Nigerian oil. But is the commodities traders -- why is it going up like this?
HILL: I have no idea. That's why I'm a journalist.
Here's our next topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA LANG, PETA SPOKESWOMAN: This horse crossed that line and broke both ankles, one bone snapped through her skin. That's who we care about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: That was the PETA spokeswoman, Lisa Lang, calling for the suspension of the jockey who rode the racehorse Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby last Saturday. The horse had to be euthanized after breaking both ankles.
On Thursday, the horse's trainer and owner gave their rebuttal to PETA's charges also.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY JONES, TRAINER OF EIGHT BELLES: We actually have still photos of this mare 50 yards before she collapsed. She's got her ears up gallops out well. Not only could Gabriel not tell anything was the matter. This mare, I guarantee you, if something was going on, never had a clue herself. She was not under distress. She was a happy horse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: She was a happy horse. She was so pretty, too.
Patricia, though, PETA comes out and makes these charges. The media jumps right on it. Did they do it too quickly?
MURPHY: I've been around horses all my life. This is a situation, to use a cliche, this is a teachable moment. There's a lot of problems in horse racing right now. A lot of it has to do the way horses are bred for strength rather than soundness.
What's going on with the dirt track versus the synthetic track? There's problems in American horse racing. For PETA to blame the jockey kind of lost that moment. I hope journalists will dig deeper into this. There are a lot of problems causing these catastrophic injuries for horses. It's very important. Horse racing is investigating it but they need to have their feet held to the fire.
PINKERTON: I agree completely with that, that we should investigate all this genetic engineering that's going on. But let's not let NBC off the hook. This is a network happy to show the pictures of the Korean shooter kid on "Nightly News" and then wouldn't show the horse being euthanized.
MURPHY: But you don't want to see a horse being.
PINKERTON: It's news. We can't show horses being euthanized but we can show psychotic killers and glorify them.
MURPHY: To me the last ten minutes this happened and they were going away kind of ending the broadcast anyway.
THOMAS: It's an interesting debate. People want pictures of abortion, for example, on TV because that will say that will sear the consciousness of America. Others, like Phil Donohue, have argued for showing the pictures of capital punishment because that will make people turn against capital punishment. Where is the line?
HILL: Just come to my house after the kids misbehave. You'll see it.
Let's turn to a new topic. Take a look at pictures of the devastation in Myanmar as the humanitarian crisis in that country continues to grow. Compared to the "Katrina" and tsunami disasters, we've seen few pictures from the region.
Why is that and how much does that impact, Cal, the ability to raise money, raise awareness to bring in relief?
THOMAS: We haven't seen it because the junta won't let the media in and won't let most humanitarian aid in. Yes, affects it tremendously. Still pictures, the few pictures we've seen in our newspapers don't have the same emotional effect as moving pictures as we've seen in response to "Katrina" and the tsunamis and 9/11 and the rest.
HILL: Because they don't care whether we show these pictures. They don't want us in there. They've made that very clear.
Jane, should we beat going after them so hard, saying let us in, let us in?
HALL: I think it was very, very touching in the way Laura Bush made this her cause and she came out and said let us in. President Bush said let us in. United States has humanitarian goals as well as goals we are criticized for. We should pursue it.
HILL: All right.
We have one more break to take. When we come back...
ANNOUNCER: It's a news blackout in Texas as a big Bush wedding is set to start. Will there be leaks? That's next on "News Watch."
HILL: Wedding bells will ring tonight in a little less than two hours as first daughter Jenna Bush gets married to Henry Hager in Crawford, Texas. Members of the press have not been invited to the wedding bash. Instead of a White House wedding, Jenna and Henry opted for a low-key event, a far cry from these presidential daughters.
When Tricia Nixon wed in the Rose Garden in 1971, her wedding was broadcast live on TV and she appeared on the covers of "Time" and "Life" magazines. Luci Baines Johnson married in August, 1966, with a 13-tier, 300-pound cake decorated with swans. Her sister, Lynda Byrd Johnson, skipped the gigantic cake but wed a year later, in 1967.
If any one event could be newsworthy, it would be the wedding of Alice Leigh Roosevelt, Theodore daughter, in 1906. The Hollywood-style event was so huge, it took up the entire front page of "The Washington Post" the next day.
Some of us, of course, wonder if that will happen tomorrow. Hopefully, tomorrow we will see one picture.
That's all the time we have this week.
Thanks to Jane Hall, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Patricia Murphy.
I'm E.D. Hill. Thank you for watching. Keep it right her on Fox News channel. The "FOX Report" is up next.
For more information and exclusive content related to "FOX News Watch" go to www.foxnews.com/foxnewswatch
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