This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," July 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, FOX HOST: This week on "FOX News Watch," patriotism in the press. Which candidate gets the media's vote for being more red, white and blue?
The hunt for bin Laden. Did The New York Times compromise the effort?
A great day for ditto heads. As Rush makes the deal of the century, how would the drive-by media treat him now?
Christy Brinkley's messy divorce heads to court, TV and the tabloids.
And some "Real American Stories."
First the headlines, then "News Watch."
(FOX NEWS BREAK)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, FOX HOST: On the panel this week, Jane Hall of the American University, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor and writer for the "American Conservative" magazine; and Patricia Murphy of citizenjanepolitics.com, a nonpartisan web site.
I'm Alisyn Camerota. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Could I just interrupt you?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.): Sure.
SCHIEFFER: Barack Obama hasn't had those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and getting shot down.
CLARK: I don't think riding in a plane and getting shot down is a qualification for president.
CLARK: But Barack Obama is not running on the fact he has made these security pronouncements. He's running on his other strengths.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was General Wesley Clark talking with CBS's Bob Schieffer last Sunday. Those comments ended up dominating the news pretty much all week long.
Jim, did they warrant that much coverage?
JIM PINKERTON, CONTRIBUITNG EDITOR & WRITER, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE: I think they might have been -- General Clark might have been better off not keeping the story going. He kept defending it. That's what gave is legs. One blooper that you apologize for, it goes away quickly. Instead, General Clark stupidly, and at great expense of his own future prospects in the Obama administration, kept saying what I really meant was I'm right and so on. And of course he found a liberal of bloggers who said, oh yeah, absolutely. It's not the fight Obama wants to be in.
CAMEROTA: Jane, this whole Wesley Clark hubabaloo, I think it's brought up an interesting dilemma for the media and that is John McCain's war service, military record, time as a POW fair game or is it off limits?
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think it's generally off limits. John Kerry's military experience, he was touting as we all remember. And people tried to say it wasn't what it appeared to be. This was man was tortured, refused to be released early. Son of admirals. I think it's probably off limits. Maybe it shouldn't be.
I think what Clark was trying to do was puncture that and make it not off limits. I don't think he did Obama any favors because nobody wants to see a man who suffered the way he did to have his military service trashed.
CAMEROTA: Cal, if John McCain is running on him being stronger in terms of national security, than Barack Obama, why aren't the things General Clark raised fair?
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLULMNIST: I think it's part of the same package of military record or non-record. Whether you're a POW or not, how you fought. I think it's all part of the package. To say this shouldn't be included, J.F. Kennedy ran on P.T. 109, a boat in World War II that was blown up out from under him. George H.W. Bush, we remember, many of us, the plane he was in, at the age of 19 or 20, that was shot down, that grainy film as he's pulled up on the ship that has rescued him. And Bill Clinton's famous war record -- excuse me.
I think it's legitimate, what you did or did not do. It's a legitimate issue.
CAMEROTA: That's interesting because that's not how most people have covered it. General Wesley Clark has gotten a lot of grief for having raised this issue.
In fact, it's interesting, Patricia, Barack Obama gave what was touted as a major address on patriotism this week but it was a eclipsed basically by a lot of Clark's comments.
PATRICIA MURPHY, CITIZENJANEPOLITICS.COM: It was totally eclipsed. That was the big problem. General Clark went on that show. -- It's impossible to believe the Obama campaign didn't know what he was going to say, I've heard him say this many times before. This was the first time it got picked up. -- It stepped on Obama's message and started going down the road of who's patriotic, who's not patriotic. Very uncomfortable for most people, particularly Democrats, who feel like John Kerry was maligned the last time around, for them to be doing it now just paints a difficult picture for Democrats to defend.
PINKERTON: Especially for Democrats. That was the interesting segue here. David Greenberg in slate.com wrote a brave article last week in which he tried to say there are two kinds of patriotism. There's the kind of Ronald Reagan which is waving the flag and then there's the thoughtful patriotism of Adelaide Stephenson and Michael Dukakis. He's patriotic, too. He might have an argument. He's an intellectual. But in politics, no. There's one kind of patriotism and it involves waiving the flag, eating apple pie and loving your country. That's what Obama has to dig out from under.
HALL: I think Obama's weak suit is proving he has the experience to get the infamous 3 a.m. phone calls. Anytime McCain is able to talk about his war record is a good day for McCain and not a good day for Barack Obama. It was a mistake. I think the media are absolutely reverential about McCain in ways that they certainly were not about John Kerry's military record.
CAMEROTA: Cal, it's interesting that Jim brings up the word patriotism. Is the word patriotism in some ways a dirty word in the mainstream media?
THOMAS: Maybe for some. Bob Beckel and I write a column for "USA Today" and we've written this book together, "Common Ground." We deal with this issue. I don't think it's useful politically or as citizens to say some person loves his or her country more than another because of there difference on policy issues. Let's argue the policy but let's not say, say, you're for the war in Iraq and I'm against it, or the reverse, that I or you love our country more than the other. That's a non-provable and I think it's divisive. And it's horrible.
PINKERTON: Unless you're like Matthew Rothschild in the "Progressive" magazine, who wrote an article this week, "Why I'm not Patriotic."
THOMAS: That's different.
MURPHY: There is this line of attack on Obama's right now that he's not patriotic, that Michelle Obama is not patriotic and does not love here country and is not proud of her country. So even though some conservatives are defensive of your position -- that's the attack.
PINKERTON: In fairness, she did say, for the first time in my life, I'm proud. There's some basis for the allegation.
MURPHY: You're proving the point that the conservatives rap on the Obamas that they are not patriotic.
CAMEROTA: In fact, CNN did a poll this week in which they asked all registered voters whether they think Barack Obama lacks patriotism. And one-quarter of the respondents agreed that he did. Are you surprised that CNN even posed that question?
MURPHY: The reason I'm not surprised is because it is out there. That question is discussed on the blogs. It's discussed in TV roundtables. And that is why Barack Obama went out this week and is talking about his patriotism and gets stepped on when...
PINKERTON: And maybe it has something to do with last summer when he wouldn't put his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem.
HALL: Jim, you're repeating -- you're like YouTube. We have YouTube right here in front of us. The same video -- there are plenty of other videos where he's leading the Pledge of Allegiance on the floor of the senate. That's not what's out there. And that's not what people want to know who want to trash him and try to get him on this.
CAMEROTA: Jane, it is interesting that now he's wearing the flag pin after not wearing it a while.
HALL: And he gave this speech. I don't think people are nuanced about this. They want candidates to where flag pins, you want to win, you better wear a flag. That's how America is right now.
THOMAS: I just hope the pins are not made in China.
CAMEROTA: On that note, it's time for a break.
But first, if you want to hear what we're talking about during the commercial break, you can go to our web site, foxnews.com/foxnewswatch. We'll be back in two minutes with this.
ANNOUNCER: As public enemy number one continues to elude capture, The New York Times appoints an accusing finger at the Pentagon. Have they gone too far? Answers next, on "New Watch."
CAMEROTA: Amid U.S. policy disputes Qaeda grows in Pakistan -- that was the headline in Monday's "New York Times." The article quoted from a, quote, "highly classified Pentagon order" and spelled out bureaucratic infighting at the Defense Department over how to capture Usama bin Laden and defeat al Qaeda.
Patricia, should The New York Times have published a highly classified document.
MURPHY: My question is should somebody at the DOD be leaking that information. I tend to look to The New York Times to say why is this person off the record. They just quoted a senior Pentagon official. We don't know if that's the secretary of defense, an assistant secretary, a way under deputy secretary. That's my question. I want to know why is someone in the Pentagon leaking it.
CAMEROTA: OK, Cal, but if The New York Times happens to get its hands on juicy information, do they have on obligation to the American public to publish it?
THOMAS: I don't see the purpose of the story. Who was helped? The only ones who were help were the terrorists to get this information. The New York Times has done this before with wiretapping stories, with the ways we're going after the terrorists. That doesn't help our side. It helps the other side. In this story, Patricia, there were 18, count them, 18 sources not identified. I just think that is journalistically irresponsible.
CAMEROTA: Jane, doesn't the American public have a right to know if the administration has backed off the plan to capture Usama bin Laden?
HALL: I think this may be considered heresy. I think it was a public service. It talks about how there were disputes between the CIA and the State Department. How Musharraf -- we may not have pressed him hard enough. These guys, basically there's an on-the-record guy saying they regrouped in Pakistan, they're ready to come at us again. I think that's worth knowing. And I agree with Patricia. Somebody in the Department of Defense, or State, who was frustrated by the infighting, leaked the story. Take those guys to jail if you think you want to take somebody to jail.
PINKERTON: Under the espionage you take the leakers and The New York Times to jail. That's what happened during World War I. A war, by the way, that we were victorious in.
HALL: If there had been any danger, national security would have that authority.
PINKERTON: We endanger national security when you leak sources and methods. For example, the story Cal alluded to before about the wiretaps across the world.
HALL: That's a different deal.
PINKERTON: OK. I think, just a hunch, that The New York Times hates the Bush administration so much that they want us to lose. That's what I think.
MURPHY: ... the Bush administration when we were going -- those sources, Scooter Libby, they were protecting the Bush administration.
PINKERTON: In the last five years, they have changed their tone. Judith Miller and others are gone. Now people it nothing but people who have such a grudge against Bush that they want to see American fail.
HALL: I didn't read the story that way. I really didn't.
CAMEROTA: ... out there.
HALL: I think the wiretapping story is a legitimate question, whether they should have leaked methods. I view this as a story with a lot of people in the administration who are frustrated with not being able to go ahead and not have commandos take out Usama bin Laden. How is that a problem?
THOMAS: The press has switched sides. We are no longer the good guys as we were during World War II when there was a censorship board. Mostly, the press cooperated with the government because they knew we were on the same side.
CAMEROTA: Cal, isn't it also the role of the press to be a watchdog of government and, in this case, if they're not looking for Usama bin Laden, shouldn't the American public know about that?
THOMAS: There's a difference between being a watchdog and peeing on the fire plug. That's what The New York Times is doing.
HALL: Oh! Wait a minute.
PINKERTON: As evidenced by the fact The New York Times was all upset Valerie Plame got named year ago in the Scooter Libby case. And then they happily named one of the CIA interrogators.
HALL: They didn't leak where they were planning to go.
PINKERTON: Every chance they get, they stick it to the administration, which means sticking it to the American worker.
MURPHY: But somebody in the administration wants it out there. Somebody in the administration is worried that we are not going after Usama bin Laden even though the president says we are.
THOMAS: Probably a Clinton holdover.
CAMEROTA: Jane, it was interesting, even just to see a story on the war about the war on terror on the front page of The New York Times because it doesn't really get that much coverage anymore.
HALL: It doesn't. You can balk the media for not paying attention to Pakistan. Suddenly we surprise that Afghanistan is blowing up again. We tend to focus on one thing and sometimes we don't inform the American people about what else is happening.
THOMAS: Yes, the media don't focus on things going well. They only focus on things going bad. Iraq's going well, no more stories from Iraq. Let's focus on Afghanistan.
CAMEROTA: Jim, it was interesting. You both have talked about the other stories of The New York Times has leaked with classified information. I remember one back in 2006 that got a lot of attention. It was about the SWIFT program, that was the terrorist financial tracking program. Arguably, that gave information to the terrorists that may have prevented them from getting caught. Who did this story hurt?
PINKERTON: It's a little unclear but it certainly undermined the trusted officials in the Pentagon and the administration and also Congress, because the Congress is usually briefed on these things, as to whether they can trust the people in the room. Hey, if we talk about this in this room or will I be reading about it in The New York Times tomorrow? If the answer is, you can't trust the people with you, you can't have a war decision. We can't win a war in this kind of media environment.
HALL: But six years ago, we're not talking about yesterday. We're talking about an effort that has not happened since 9/11.
PINKERTON: We're talking about terrorist movements tomorrow.
MURPHY: We're talking about people who know all these details intimately and they have decided to leak it because they don't trust the...
PINKERTON: It's against the law. They took an oath not to do this. If they can get prosecuted, they should. Maybe the people that facilitate it should get prosecuted as well.
CAMEROTA: All right, we have to leave it there. It's time for another break. And we'll be back with this.
ANNOUNCER: The up-town girl takes her nasty divorce public. Their dirty laundry-grabbing tabloid headlines. And Rush Limbaugh makes a whopper of a deal. Details next on "News Watch."
CAMEROTA: $400 million -- that's how much Rush Limbaugh will be paid now that he has signed a new contract. That's more than the salaries of all the network anchors combined -- Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Charlie Gibson.
OK, guys, it's very interesting because the Main Street media has, at times, sort of dismissed Rush Limbaugh. But this Sunday The New York Times is doing an 8,000-word cover story in its Sunday magazine -- I read portions -- dare I say, it's almost flattering.
Does this new contract, Cal, make him more of a force to be reckoned with?
THOMAS: It's certainly getting near to my income level. I'm starting to sweat a little bit.
I don't think so. I read the whole piece. I read is online and it was good for the "New York Times." They did a pretty good job. But there's still that detachment there. We're kind of slumming down here. It's Palm Beach, Florida, at his house. It's a nice piece, a fairly fair piece. He said he likes it. He likes the Tony Soprano-look-alike picture on the front. Look, the mainstream media, as he calls it, a drive-by media, have never gotten Rush Limbaugh. If they had, he wouldn't exist because their newspapers wouldn't be closing and there TV networks would not be losing market share. He has tapped into a part of America that the mainstream media disrespects.
CAMEROTA: And yet, Jane, now that Rush will be making $50 million a year, does it in some ways -- will it make it harder for him to connect with his 20 million listeners a week?
HALL: Let's see, 20 million. He could give it to each of them and still have some left over. I don't think people mind his success. The ditto head, people who agree with him, the things he's got that unfortunately I haven't seen, except for Jim Hightower from Texas, he's funny. He does funny stuff, politically incorrect stuff. He's gone after some groups in an ugly way. Al Sharpton's quoted in the piece saying Imus was much more of a bludgeon on some of the incorrect things that he said and that he is more of razor.
I think it will be interesting to see, does he have impact on this election. He went after McCain a lot, told people to vote for Hillary. That's essentially what this piece is about although it ends up being a pretty loving profile of Rush Limbaugh.
PINKERTON: Limbaugh proves this the oldest of the old media, radio, - - which we talk about newspapers dying and TV dying -- could be brought to life with genuine talents. He's funny, he speaks to people. He will have an impact on the election, although he'll have more of an impact if the Democrats get in charge next year because his most effectiveness is in the opposition.
CAMEROTA: That's an interesting point.
Patricia, which do you think is more powerful right now, the proliferation of blogs, must like you have, or talk radio? Which is having more of an impact?
MURPHY: I think they're beginning to have equal impact but on different segments and within different parties. The online presence with the Democrats is so much more strong now because they have never been able to replicate anybody with Rush Limbaugh with that kind of power with somebody who connects with their listeners. I think that Rush Limbaugh is still on the conservative, siding with Republicans, has incredible power. But the left has been looking for their Rush Limbaugh. They still are. Now they have to put it on the Internet because I don't think they're going to match it on the radio.
CAMEROTA: Cal, time spent listening to the radio has fallen 16 percent in the last decade. Does that mean that radio is waning?
THOMAS: Radio may be waning but Rush isn't. I think people have different alternative information sources. You got I-pods, HD radio, satellite stuff, you've got the Internet. There's many different choices. I don't think people are less tuned in. they're just tuning into different sources.
CAMEROTA: We need to talk about Christy Brinkley.
THOMAS: Finally. Thank goodness.
CAMEROTA: At your request.
CAMEROTA: We're going to talk about this incredibly messy divorce that she is embroiled in. We would never have known this had this custody case been closed to the public. But according to sources, it is Christy Brinkley herself who asked that this case be open. So we now are privy to the salacious details of what her soon to be ex-husband did in terms of having an affair and cyber porn and all sorts of other things.
Jim, just because it's open to the public, does that mean we must cover it?
PINKERTON: Apparently so, right? Now, look, it is pretty horrible. The magazine had a good point. She is destroying not only the remnants of her own dignity, badly hurting her children, everybody involved, because she's so obviously mad at her soon to be ex-husband. It's a tragedy. And the media obviously are helping to enable it.
CAMEROTA: Let's look at some of the covers, at least here in New York that are covering this salacious story. The "New York Daily News" has "The Lady and the Louse," with Christy Brinkley looking devastated there. And "Newsday" called it "Beauty and the Beast." Ella Hanican (ph) of "Newsday" writes an interesting column about how this falls into what he is calling an era of news that he terms may be news. It's based on gossip, on hearsay. It's based on rumors. And somehow now that's acceptable, Patricia.
MURPHY: If you look how celebrity coverage evolved or devolved, they have sort of become like everybody's neighbors down the street who are a little sluttier than the next. You just talk about them and that's how you pass the time. The tragedy is there are children involved. They're going to hear about this at school. That's the sad part of this in my opinion.
THOMAS: The old tabloids used to have a kernel of truth in them. But it's like news of the world, two-headed monster found in suburban Chicago or something. You have Dr. Phil supposedly splitting with his wife when you can see his show every day. He always walks out holding hands with his wife. There's absolutely no truth to some of this, but people read it. Certainly, they gawk at the checkout line and some of them actually buy it.
HALL: The Christy Brinkley thing, I was thinking I'm reading this early, I can condemn it. We were all reading it but it's a real life drama. It's one of those newsies. It's a thing that is real people. We saw Christy Brinkley, many of us, growing up, on the cover of various magazines. It's so tacky. The question is -- I didn't realize they're basically fighting over custody. So is this an effective strategy for custody that she must have decided it would help to air this. And probably TMZ or somebody would have gotten a lot of it anyway. So that's another argument.
PINKERTON: I think there's a lot of truth in this one. Sorry, Cal. However, I'm still kind of up in the air about Madonna and Guy Richie. I just don't know the truth on that one.
CAMEROTA: During the break, I'll explain all that.
HALL: I want to know.
CAMEROTA: I've got that for you as well.
We have to take one more break. When we come back...
ANNOUNCER: On this 4th of July weekend, some "Real American Stories" to inspire you, next on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being American in my opinion is the greatest thing in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE & UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It means enjoying the rights that everybody should enjoy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have the freedom to say what I want when I want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is OK for you and me to have disagreeing opinions and you not to like it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my chance to express who I am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The land of the free, home of the brave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom, it's not free and it's not cheap, but it's worth it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That's from a new feature we have launched your on FOX News channel called "Real American Stories." To be inspired by more stories, go to realamericanstories.com. And while you're there, send us your story too.
That's all the time we have left on this Fourth of July weekend.
Thanks to Jane Hall, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Patricia Murphy. Thanks so much, guys.
I'm Alisyn Camerota. Thanks for watching.
Keep it right here on FOX News channel. The "FOX Report" is up next. See you soon. Have a great weekend.
For more information and exclusive content related to "FOX News Watch" go to www.foxnews.com/foxnewswatch
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