This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," June 28, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This week on "FOX News Watch," Barack and Hillary, are they really united? The press keeps acting that question.
CBS's Laura Logan and others claim the networks don't care about Iraq anymore.
Gloucester's pregnancy pact becomes a media sensation.
More trouble for Don Imus, again.
And McCain gets some tough questions from an unlikely source.
First the headlines, then us.
(FOX NEWS BREAK)
SCOTT: On the panel this week, Kirsten Powell, FOX News analyst and columnist; syndicated columnist, Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor and writer for the "American conservative" magazine; and Joe Strove, senior editor for "Editor and Publisher" magazine.
I'm Jon Scott. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
All right, you could hardly miss it yesterday, the images of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the campaign plane making their first joint appearance together, Unity, New Hampshire.
Jim, are the press eating this up?
JIM PINKERTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR & WRITER, "AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE": You mean the sermon on the mount that they had up there in New Hampshire. That was a great media event. They roadblocked, the cable networks. They got hours and hours of courage.
SCOTT: You've got to admire it from a campaign point of view?
PINKERTON: Really. The secret about reports is for all their alleged adversarialness, they love to be part of the show and part of the game. So them getting to stand up there at their little microphone saying here I am at this big event and look how big the crowd is, they loved it. It was great news for Obama and frankly bad news for McCain.
SCOTT: Joe, if any event is slated to take place called Unity, New Hampshire, should the media automatically boycott?
JOE STRUPP, EDITOR, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER: Well, they should question the public's willingness to accept something like that for any meaningful realm of the campaign. Somebody might say, come on, are we this stupid we're going to take something called United and really play it up as unity? I don't know. But it makes for a nice headline. It makes for a nice campaign picture for a while.
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: They should have held it in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, since Obama is the second coming. That would have made it a lot better.
The media — Jim is right, love is the story. But what you never see on any of the networks are video clips of what Hillary said about Barack Obama all during the primaries. You will see them however on the Republican campaign commercials coming soon.
SCOTT: We did play them yesterday during my hours on FOX. I wanted to let you know that.
THOMAS: Well, I'm asleep during that period. I'm sorry. I'll be resting after this show.
SCOTT: All right, thanks.
KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEW ANALYST & COLUMNIST: I think we will eventually see that. I think they tend — you always get these good will events. It's like the day you announce your campaign and the media gives you this one day. I also think people watch this stuff in the hopes that maybe they're going to see something, maybe Hillary's going to dis Obama or there's bad body language. That kind of stuff. I do think that even John McCain the day he announces his campaign gets a good day of coverage. That's just the way it works.
STRUPP: Well, there's also certain tension in this for a while that's going to have to work itself out. How long are Obama and Hillary going to play this game? Even on Friday, you can see him genuflecting to her and letting her speak and she's saying my troops, my people are going to do something to help out. They got to figure that out before they can do anything else.
SCOTT: I notice even their wardrobes are color-coordinated in those shots, the blue tie and the blue suit.
Cal, there is talk Bill Clinton is supposedly miffed at Obama. When he issued his endorsement this week, he did it the way you always do something big and important, through a spokesman. The question is will the Obama-Clinton family, that is Bill and Hillary's relationship, is that still going to get covered after this week?
THOMAS: He didn't really prove his worth when he was supporting his wife. I'm not sure what he brings to the Obama campaign. There's been a lot of closed-door meetings. The big story now for the media is to find out what the final financial arrangement was. She's got these millions of dollars. $5 million she loaned her own campaign. She and Bill are worth over $100 million with all of his speeches and everything else. If she's going hat in hand saying you got to pay me off, what kind of deal was made behind the scenes, what kind of arrangement for the future and how much money is involved? Those are the questions that media ought to be looking into.
PINKERTON: Those are good question, but instead we're setting up for the big unity event with Obama and Bill Clinton. That will be another hour after hour of rapturous coverage. You wait and see.
SCOTT: Kirsten, there's been talk Obama's been enjoying a bounce in most polls. In most polls, he pretty well ahead of John McCain. Accurate reporting or wishful thinking on the part of the media?
POWERS: There's only been two polls that have shown that. If you look at the daily tracking polls, they're neck and neck. The Gallop poll today has them exactly tied. People are saying the liberal media is pushing these polls, like the "Newsweek" poll to because they love Obama. I don't think it helps Obama actually. I don't think raising expectations to that level...
SCOTT: You don't think it helps him with poll numbers?
POWERS: Not if they don't hold. They may be out-liars and may have been the work way. I don't think he helped him for people to think he's so far ahead and it's going to look like he loses ground.
PINKERTON: There's a couple other wrinkles that need to be considered. For example, both Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are in this race. Ralph Nader is kind of old. Bob Barr is the Libertarian Party nominee and if he gets double points, including the states like Georgia, where he's from — again, the Bloomberg poll and another poll that had Obama ahead — not indicative off all the polls — shows that Barr and Nader are drawing about two or three points away from McCain.
SCOTT: Joe, let me get to this question. There's that big flap earlier this week where Charlie Black, one of John McCain's advisors, said a terrorist attack on this country would be a big advantage for the McCain campaign. Did that get the coverage it deserved? Did he get a pass in the press?
STRUPP: There could have been more of it because of the extensive nature of that and the whole bringing up of the fear factor. I like it though when someone brings up something like that, sort of the elephant in the room where people are somewhat thinking of this but no one wants to talk about it. It all depends on how it's going to affect McCain. I think it comes and goes. Maybe someone says you got too much coverage, someone is saying not enough. It came and went.
SCOTT: It was covered at least?
STRUPP: At least.
SCOTT: Time for a break. But first, if you want to hear what we're talking about during our commercial break, go to our web site, foxnews.com/foxnewswatch. We'll try to say intelligent things. And we'll be back in two minutes with this.
ANNOUNCER: The situation in Iraq is changing. But one network reporter says there's resistance to getting those stories on the air. Next, on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA LOGAN, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I was asked once, do you feel responsible for the American Republican having a bad year with the war in Iraq? I looked at the reporter and said tell me the last time you saw the body of a dead American soldier. Who in America knows what that looks like? I know what that looks like and I feel responsible for the fact that no one else does. You know? That's what I feel responsible for, that nobody really understands. And the soldiers did feel forgotten. They do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's CBS News Correspondent Laura Logan on "The Daily Show," the comedy show.
Cal, we're not hearing a whole lot about Iraq these days and yet everybody seems to agree the situation there is much better than it was a year ago or two years ago. Why doesn't it get coverage now?
THOMAS: Yes. First, let me just dissect what we heard Laura Logan say. We haven't seen pictures of a dead American soldier. How cynical is that? What about pictures of a living American soldier building relationships with the Iraqi people. There are many dimensions to the story besides a dead American. I find that very one dimensional.
To answer your question, Jon, we're not seeing more pictures and stories because things are going better. First we weren't getting it because, as some politicians said, Democrats were saying, well, the war is lost. We can't win militarily. Then things improved with the surge. Well, they still are having the political settlements. Now that they're having the political settlements, no one cares anymore. Maybe they would if they covered it more.
PINKERTON: Let's say Ms. Logan is, as they say in journalism, is stepping on her own story. She's been named in a divorce suit. Some irate wife thinks she stole her husband. And she's been rumored to be having an affair with a CNN reporter. Between those things, of course, she's busy in Baghdad doing whatever as opposed to getting out and covering the story.
SCOTT: There are pressures that come with being in a combat zone.
POWERS: Can I just defend her for a second. I think we all know what goes on with reporters who — she's involved with a married reporter allegedly. He's just as culpable.
SCOTT: You're absolutely right, but Ms. Logan is the one going on TV denouncing everyone else for not covering it when she's busy.
POWERS: I don't know if that's fair. I think she's...
SCOTT: Not covering her covering the story based on an alleged affair?
POWERS: I think that there's plenty of stuff goes on that people are more than able to do their jobs and still cover their...
SCOTT: Joe, why not? Is it just that the media do not in general like to do good news stories and think the news is since the news is better out of Iraq we're not going to do it? Is that's what's going on?
STRUPP: As an on-going fan of newspapers, you got to look at newspapers still covering Iraq. But with newspapers and the broadcast outlets, a lot is money cutbacks. The foreign bureaus and coverage are getting pulled back in many ways for money.
There's also a lot of other things going on. A presidential race as we were just talking about and other elements. She does have a point I think you can talk about. I don't think it's a push, dead Americans versus live Americans. I think that was just a stark example she used to show the images and tragedy that goes on versus not a tragic picture and one she chose to illustrate.
POWERS: I'll say two things. First of all, the reason it doesn't get coverage is because the media is focused on problems. If it bleeds, it leads. That's the reality. People want it turn into the liberal media's against the war because it's going well. It doesn't get covered. Even here at FOX, we're not covering it as much. It doesn't rate that well. People aren't interested in it. That's just the fact of life.
SCOTT: Jim, you've been to Iraq. What's going on over there that the media are missing?
PINKERTON: There is a lot of good news, but let's face it, it's a big complicated story and there's also big news out of Afghanistan. The worst month for U.S. casualties, I think, in the history of the war. The media with budget cuts, losing, shedding employees all over the place. Potentially, it's ominous for America because that vacuum is being filled essentially by networks like al Jazeera and Arabiya, who are not our friends. I think it's important in one way or another we get more coverage all across the board both good and bad of these vital areas of American national security.
SCOTT: Is there a fundamental unfairness that you leave American readers and viewers and listeners with the impression the war is trapped in the time warp that it was in 18 months ago?
THOMAS: We have short attention spans. That's why all murders are committed and resolved and the guilty person sentenced on law and order all on one show, minus commercials and a station break. We're not used to protracted wars or protected anything. A lot of our marriages don't last as long as this war's lasted. So we're not used to this sort of thing.
Kirsten says people are bored. Yes, it's kind of an eat-your-spinach thing, you better do it because it's good for you. You better pay attention because this is going to be a long lasting war. Maybe not this one but the world war on terrorism. And we better get used to it.
SCOTT: We're going to take another short break. We will be back in just a moment with this.
ANNOUNCER: A high school pregnancy pact makes big news. But did the press get it wrong? And there's more controversy around Don Imus. What did he say now? All next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: The Supreme Court handed down a major ruling this week supporting American's rights to own a gun. It was the lead story on all three evening network newscasts. But the news was followed by a lot of worrying that the ruling might cause an increase in violent crime in big cities.
What about that, Jim, did you see those reports?
PINKERTON: I saw Jeff Toobin on CNN say, oh, this obviously proves that communities that care about their people will, of course, immediately try to change the ruling somehow. I think you can make a pretty good argument. John Lobb (ph) at the American Enterprise Institute did. More guns actually leads to less crime. But strange enough, I didn't see a lot of him in the media coverage.
SCOTT: It's true. It's been pointed out Washington, D.C., has one of the highest murder rates in the country and they're the ones that had this gun ban for 30 years.
THOMAS: The excuse of course is that the guns come in from Virginia, which has a laxer gun law. Jim is absolutely right. In cities especially, Chicago and many others, that have had these tough gun laws, they have higher rates of crime because — I hate to sound like the spokesperson for the NRA, but guns don't kill people, people kill people. If only the criminals have the guns, then the law abiding people are effectively disarmed. I think this is something the media didn't point out.
SCOTT: Joe, given the magnitude of this ruling, do you think the media, I mean were they prepared? It seems like some of the coverage was awful simplistic.
STRUPP: There wasn't a lot of prep for this until it was happening. Some coverage says it doesn't changing other than giving the local entities more of a say in this. That would immediately change a lot of the laws. Pro-gun laws to begin with. The one in D.C. would be changed, as the ruling will allow it to. But you're right, a lot of people weren't ready for this. Even when it ended up as a lead story, some people somewhat surprised.
PINKERTON: Like Katie Couric who didn't seem to know before ten minutes before the show that the gun ban had been in place 32 years.
SCOTT: Let's talk about one of the other big stories. Was there a pregnancy pact at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts? The schools principal, Joseph Sullivan, set off a fire storm when he told a "Time" magazine reporter that a group of girls, quote, "intentionally set out to get pregnant." And 17 girls at school currently are pregnant. The principal stood by his story on Thursday saying his information was and is accurate. The town's mayor said earlier in the week she could not confirm the story.
So first of all what's going on here, the fascination with what looks pretty suspicious, 17, 18 girls getting pregnant in one year?
POWERS: Even if there wasn't a pact, there's something going on where the girls are seeing other people pregnant and thinking that it's something that's OK.
That said, they're not getting abortions and having the children. I think that's actually a positive thing. They're taking responsibility for something that probably wasn't a very wise decision in the first place.
SCOTT: Although a lot of media speculation is the onsite day-care center there in the high school is sort of encouraging them. What little girl doesn't like a doll, doesn't like playing with a doll. What 18-year- old girl might not look at a real baby and say, hey, that looks like fun.
POWERS: I don't understand this. At 18 I didn't want a child. I don't understand this. Maybe there's something going on in the culture of that school making it OK. I think these girls are in for a rude awakening.
THOMAS: The movies "Juno" and "Knocked Up" gave it a little gloss. Isn't it cute to see a doll, a real living doll? But I like — one of the girls, 17, got on "Good Morning America" and said, gee, this was all coincidental. I guess she still believes store-spring babies can get pregnant by handling the wrong doorknob. That sounded kind of weird to me, just coincidental.
PINKERTON: I think the subtext of the story is the enormous rise in unwed motherhood across the country. It's pushing 40 percent of all births in this country are to unwed mothers. If it's happening in Gloucester, it's happening all over the country. This story, that word "pact", gave it a kind of conspiracy theory element that's rocketed it across the world. The facts on the ground are ominous for the traditional family.
SCOTT: Joe, the story started in the local newspaper. A couple of months later, "Time" magazine picked it up. And all of a sudden it's all around the world. Why does it get so much attention?
STRUPP: That's just it. The parachuting national media comes in. They got some small parts of it wrong allegedly with this word "pact," which was later found to never be attributed to anything substantial. But it's one of those stories where everyone's going to have an opinion. Anyone that has kids or wants kids or thinks people shouldn't have kids is going to say what's going on up there and who's to blame. The final answer still hasn't come out. When you parachute in, you get the facts straight. The local paper was on it.
SCOTT: One of the big follow-ON stories, which I don't think anybody has done, is what role does onsite day-care have in all this? Is that something the media is looking at?
PINKERTON: Why don't you go and investigate it?
STRUPP: There was also an onsite health center and they had a big debate that started this about birth control, whether they should have it or not. That continues from March when this really broke. They still haven't figured it out.
SCOTT: Then there's a fellow in the media who has perhaps a bigger name than Cal Thomas, I'm not sure. His name is Don Imus. There were more controversial radio comments from him. It happened in a discussion about Dallas Cowboy's Pac-man Jones. Take a listen...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON IMUS, RADIO SHOW HOST: What color is he?
WARNER WOLF: He's African-American.
IMUS: There you go. Now we know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Imus says that was sort of misinterpreted.
What do you think these latest rounds of — his latest comments...
POWERS: I don't see how it was misinterpreted. I think it's so deeply ingrained in him he doesn't even realize what he's saying. People want to listen to him, they're free to listen to him. I think he's ridiculous. I don't understand why people want to listen to the kind of stuff he says but they do.
PINKERTON: Just as the media are primed to take some stories and rocket them off like the story in Gloucester, this story, people are frankly tired of Imus. John Freidman in "Market Watch" said old news, we don't care anymore. He's saying the same old stuff. But now nobody cares.
SCOTT: You think people are feeling sorry for him because he got spanked so badly the last time?
THOMAS: He has a target on him now, as somebody said. I agree. We've been around this track. We know who the guy is, what he is, whether good or ill. There's all kinds of people on the air now saying outrageous stuff — Howard Stern, lots of people. They have their little niche groups who will always be with them. We've got to move on, I think, and most people have. They don't expect anymore from Imus.
SCOTT: It makes Joe glad he works in newspaper.
STRUPP: We get our stories out of it, too. If you listen to his follow-up explanation the next day, he dug himself in a deeper hole. It's not a surprise and probably old news.
SCOTT: We have to take one more break. When we come back, five questions for John McCain from two future voters.
SCOTT: Candidates get questions from reporters every day but it is not every day that they take questions from kids. On Thursday, John McCain sat down with a first grader and kindergartner in Cincinnati.
Spencer Mackey asked five questions. Was he ever in a tank, did he ever fire an M-16. And Spencer's sister Piper wanted to know about this, is being a president like being a King? McCain laughed and said, I think there have been some presidents who thought that. We won't mention any names. Maybe you know them.
That's all the time we have left this week. Thanks to Kirsten Powers, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Joe Strupp.
I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for watching "FOX News Watch." Keep it here on the FOX News Channel. The "FOX Report" is up next. We will be back next week as well. See you then.
For more information and exclusive content related to "FOX News Watch" go to www.foxnews.com/foxnewswatch
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