This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," July 19, 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," a magazine's cartoon cover causes outrage in politics and the press.
A sour economy hits lots of coverage. But are the media making things worse.
Why did some in the press take potshots at Tony Snow after his untimely death?
A young detainee is caught crying at Gitmo. Guess how that was covered?
The boys at Jib Jab sing a new campaign tune.
First the headlines, then us.
(FOX NEWS BREAK)
SCOTT: On the panel this week, Jane Hall of the American University; author and syndicated columnist Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor and columnist for "American Conservative" magazine, and Joe Strupp, senior editor at "Editor and Publisher" magazine.
I'm Jon Scott. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
Here it is. The New Yorker's cover provoking outrage on a number of fronts this week. The cartoons of satirically title, "The Politics of Fear." The satire was lost on a lot of a lot of politicians and the media.
Jon Stewart took a shot at giving the Obama campaign some advice on that reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Obama's camp initially agreed the cartoon was, quote, "tasteless and offensive." Really? You know what your response should have been? It's very issue. Here's let me put the statement out for you. "Barack Obama is in no way upset about the cartoon that depicts him as a Muslim extremist, because you know who gets upset about cartoons? Muslim extremists, of which Barack Obama is not. It is just a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cartoon."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: All right, so, Cal, is this outrage as expressed by many in the media, is it justified or is it just a cartoon.
CAL THOMAS, AUTHOR AND SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It is just a cartoon, but it is a cartoon designed to tweak the right. Remember this was supposed to depict what conservatives think, stupid, idiotic, non-thinking people that don't read the "New Yorker" are supposed to think about Obama, but it backfired on them, and instead of how the white wine and preset on the Upper East Side in New York City think. It reinforced a lot of the very stereotypes about Obama and Michelle Obama to the left is trying to do away with.
SCOTT: Did it backfired, Jane?
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think it did fire backfire.
It wasn't funny. I wonder if so they put that on a magazine and done something that was anti-Semitic, would people have said, oh, it is just a cartoon. I don't think it worked. There was no irony. You couldn't really tell unless you are part of the alleged brie set.
I think what's interesting to me and what Jon Stewart lampooned is how much the media giving "New Yorker" millions of dollars of free publicity. There are a lot of other issues in the world besides this cartoon.
SCOTT: Joe, Maureen Dowd, the "New York Times" columnist, asked in her column on Wednesday, she said may we mock Barack, as though you need permission to do so. I guess the question is can you mock Barack Obama in print?
JOE STRUPP, SENIOR EDITOR, "EDITOR AND PUBLISHER": You should be able to. He should've couched his reaction more and showed he could not only not take up offensively were seriously as some people did, but also say there are more important things.
I think it pointed out what the left is trying to paint, the picture of how the right is handling this. The fact is, this is a mock, a satire of the extreme view of Obama, and they're trying to show, if you read the story, is not the case. And it is again clearly a cartoon, which are a lot of people should have realized up front that that's what it was supposed to be.
JIM PINKERTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR & COLUMNIST, "THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE": I would say the "New Yorker" just went for the maximum shock value. You saw a lot of magazines and get attention. And it worked. The problem is that it deeply confused liberal reporters. He does liberal reporters love the "New Yorker" magazine. It is sort of their literary tastes, and they love Obama. So they had to choose, and obviously in and chose Obama. We love him more. So the Maureen Dowd's of the world are terrified Obama will win the election and they won't have anyone to make fun for eight years because the P.C. police will come in and kill them if they attack President Obama.
THOMAS: Both of you mentioned Maureen Dowd. She wrote a column last year mocked -- you're talking about can he be mocked -- his big ears. And at a public forum, Obama spotted her in the audience and went down and berated her for making fun of his physical appearance. But she wrote a follow-up column about that, that apparently you can mock Obama.
SCOTT: Let me give you a quote, Jane, from David Remnick. He said, "It is not a satire about Obama, it is a satire about the distortion, misconceptions and prejudice about Obama." Did the cover achieve that? Did it miss the mark or...?
HALL: I think it is the mark. It doesn't really communicate that to me. It doesn't say hello, irony chyron, this is funny, this is satire. It looks like the literal interpretation of what a lot of people don't understand and a lot of people think he is a Muslim. One other thing people have pointed out is that it's not a crime. That's another aspect of this.
PINKERTON: As the absolutely fearless columnist Pat Buchanan said, there is, quote, "no small kernel of truth in that cover." That's what drives the left crazy. Obama has these problems. They aren't being fully addressed, or are being honestly answered. So it provokes answers and provokes the outrage of anyone tried to shut the discussion down.
SCOTT: Let's move on to this. Barack Obama heading overseas in the coming weeks. He's invited the big three network anchors to tag along. Is that appropriate?
THOMAS: They never went with McCain when he went to Iraq. I understand the news value of this. The situation has changed on the ground in Iraq substantially. He has not been there. I find it curious he has already scheduled interviews with the three big networks to tell them what he thinks when supposedly he doesn't have the information is he hasn't been there yet.
SCOTT: Joe, should they go, the three big network anchors?
STRUPP: I think you could take issue with that. Do you need the anchors along there when you have all these reporters covering Obama, and reporters covering what is going on it without Obama. And you could say this is overkill and too much. But you can't give Obama a hard time for wanting to get press because that's what it's all about what you run for president.
HALL: Republicans have made so much about his lack of foreign policy experience. I think these anchors, who are big footing -- that's the term. They're coming in on a daily reporter's dime. Will they ask questions about what you think about the surge in Iraq? Will he make a mistake on the world stage? This is not perfect P.R. for him yet.
PINKERTON: To sum it up, the love affair continues.
SCOTT: Will take a short break, but first. . .
ANNOUNCER: Gas prices, bank fraud and a bear market? Oh, my. Is the press on a story or a witch hunt? That's next on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE COURIC, CBS EVENING NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening everyone, we wish we didn't sound like a broken record but once again tonight there is troubling economic news Americans are getting it from all sides, from inflation. Today, the government reported the second biggest monthly increase in 1982, to the mortgage mess or a type market sent prices plummeting 29 percent in one year in southern California. And the banking crisis, the FBI is now investigating the failed bank Indy Mac for fraud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: You're not watching "CBS Evening News," this is "News Watch". We want to ask our panel about all this media coverage of the economy.
Jim, are the media helping people out or making us all scared?
PINKERTON: Let's get one thing straight. We are not in a recession. According to the government, the measure is two negative quarters of economic growth. We have not had any negative quarter. Growth was 1 percent last quarter. Who knows what it will be in the future. But so far we're not in a recession.
However the media, for reasons I will speculate on, are determined to talk the economy down. And that's because George Bush is president, they are afraid and will win, and it will continue until Election Day, whereupon, if Obama wins, the recovery will commence.
HALL: Let me beg to disagree. The media have a tough situation here. You show people at a bank that is failing, it does remind people of bank runs from 1932 depression and the visuals are compelling. We have the foreclosure, terrible stuff going on, prices are falling. I think part of the problem is the media has so glorified Wall Street and hedge funds and everybody making $1 million is the great American dream, I'm not sure the media is paying attention to the issues.
THOMAS: What they didn't point out in this run on the bank that was totally unjustified because all deposits are insured by the FDIC up to $100,000. And as the "Wall Street Journal" properly pointed out, the same family can have different accounts with each account ensured for $100,000.
But let me agree with Jim on something he said. I went back and looked at the reporting in 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton was running against George Bush 41. It is exactly the same. Negative, negative about the economy. We are in a recession. After the election, the media started reporting, gee, the recession ended six months before the election. Who knew? You're seeing the same pattern now?
SCOTT: Why do you think -- Joe, do you agree with that? Do editors and publishers make a conscious decision to say, yes, I think I'll talk down the economy?
STRUPP: It is all shoot the messenger. There is a big gas price problem, the housing problem. Yes, when fuel and oil prices went down, that was reported, that was a good story. Shooting the messenger when the reality is here. People are having difficult times.
SCOTT: It is curious to me when oil prices go up, people blame the president. What is the president of its most ado about it?
HALL: How about economic policy? How about that notion?
PINKERTON: Hold it. Hold it. Let's take energy, for example. George Bush has been saying for seven years we should do more drilling. Al Gore has saying we shouldn't do any drilling move to solar power. He is still saying it. The American people now have the consequences. Al Gore won the energy debate over the last seven years. We have no drilling, and gas is $4 bucks a gallon. Surprise, surprise. What the media need to do is reconcile the fact that the American people want more energy production.
HALL: The American -- it is Al Gore's fault.
STRUPP: You're blaming the problem on Al Gore's energy policy?
PINKERTON: I am blaming the environmentalist. The media are in bed with them.
HALL: Can I make a different point.
I think when times are good, the media have gone right along with it. It reminds me of Enron. There is always this irrational exuberance -- if I can use that phrase -- then a bust. Then we find out that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae -- Then you get explaining stories about who they are.
THOMAS: It's the other way around.
HALL: I'm joking, guys.
HALL: I know the difference.
Then you get these explainers and think, gee, it would be nice to know they held half of our mortgages. How come the average person -- there are not a lot of explaining stories so there's surprises.
PINKERTON: That sounds like the presses fault, not Bush's fault.
HALL: I'm blaming the president.
PINKERTON: Oh, good. No we're getting somewhere.
SCOTT: It's almost, Cal, like the media have just discover there is a business cycle. There are economic booms and busts.
THOMAS: The media don't do a really good job, with the exception of "The Wall Street Journal" and some reporting in the "New York Times." "The Wall Street Journal" did a great job of the background of -- now you have me confused -- the two big mortgage holders in this country, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae.
PINKERTON: Fannie Mae.
THOMAS: Fannie Mae -- see what you did, you put that in my head.
HALL: I'm sorry.
THOMAS: They did a good job. Most people can't balance the checkbook. They don't know economics from anything. I will give kudos to Charlie Gibson who led "ABC World News Tonight" with good economic news, falling oil prices, and some other good stuff. Kudos to him.
PINKERTON: Jon, you said it well. There is always a business cycle. Something is always moving and busting. For the last 80 years, we had dot com bubbles, the S&L crisis, there's also something going on and it doesn't add up to a recession.
SCOTT: Will be back after another break and this...
ANNOUNCER: Tony Snow passes, inspiring many to remember this good man, except a few who chose to sour his image. Why?
A Gitmo detainee cries for his mommy. What do you think the media did with that? All next on "News Watch".
SCOTT: Former White House press secretary and FOX news anchor, Tony Snow, was remembered by President Bush, family and friends at his funeral on Thursday. Most of the media coverage of Tony's death was respectful.
But Associated Press reporter, Douglas Daniel, is taking heat for his take, with a quick from the lip repartee. "Broadcasters, good looks and a relentlessly bright outlook, if not always a command of the facts. He became a part of the figure around the country to the delight of his White House bosses. Critics suggested that Snow was turning the traditionally informational daily briefing into a personality-driven media event short on facts and long on confrontation."
Cal, you were there at the funeral and wrote quite movingly about Tony Snow. What do you think about those remarks?
THOMAS: Oh, he was my dear friend. And you talk about character, his picture ought to be next to the word in the dictionary. I don't know of anybody that didn't love him.
I think Bill O'Reilly picked this out and ran with it. That's fine. I thought it to be a rather unusual obituary. I think most obituaries you read, particularly of prominent people, just state things straightforwardly. You don't put in these little political jabs. And I don't think it was appropriate for an obituary.
SCOTT: It wasn't just that one, Jane. The DailyKos and the "L. A. Times" allowed some pretty nasty stuff to get out there.
HALL: I thought about this and the "L. A. Times" obituary was very favorable. The truth is, a lot of journalists really admired and respected Tony Snow.
David Gregory, with whom he practically got into a fistfight a couple of times, did a very moving piece about his chemotherapy, and his attitude. It is not exactly fair to trash the media.
I can understand Bill O'Reilly, who was also a close friend of his, was very upset.
The thing that is objectionable is the postings. I don't know the answer. Do you say you won't let people post an obituary? I suppose that would be a better thing to do. It did seem a cheap shot, the A.P. thing.
SCOTT: I guess it is the freedom that comes with living in this country, being able to put that kind of thing out.
Let's move to this topic. It is something that captured the media's attention this week. It involves Omar Kadir, a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay facility. He was captured in Afghanistan back when he was 15. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier by hurling a hand grenade at them.
On Tuesday, Kadir's lawyers released videotapes of him being interrogated in 2003 when he was just 16. At one point on the tape, he cries out. His family says he is calling for his mother.
All right, Jim, a lot of folks were pretty sympathetic in the media when they saw this tape. Were you surprised?
PINKERTON: Not at all because the media have had a relentless campaign against Guantanamo, and this videotape of this young man, they were only too delighted to take as evidence. What I didn't see much discussion of was the late Sergeant Christopher Speer (ph), who was the American servicemen defending us, who allegedly was killed by this fellow. He was like an afterthought. Now we have this videotape. It's a lesson about the media. If you can get video footage of your cause, for better or worse, you get attention saying that you think his lawyers knew what they were doing?
SCOTT: So you think his lawyers knew what they were doing, Cal?
THOMAS: Of course they did. I spoke to a Pentagon official about this. There is an agreement if you go to Guantanamo, you are not going to take any video images and use them. A Canadian lawyer got back to Canada, leaked it to the press, and as you said, this was eight minutes. This is only part of the tape.
The lawyer keeps asking him, if you listen to it, to lower his arm. He wants more facial expressions clearly. He knew what he was going to do. We don't know this kid was faking it or not. Terrorists are trained to think things, to tell Americans lies. And to put this out there and claim it as legitimate emotion, even if it is a legitimate emotion -- even if it is a legitimate emotion, as the Bush administration says, the guy is accused of killing an American soldier. This is not the boy next door.
SCOTT: Joe, let's look ahead at the coverage. He was a minor when the crime he is accused of was committed. It looks like it will go to trial. What do the media do with it?
STRUPP: First of all, Guantanamo has had its own problems. If you look at the McClatchy series that just ran about detainees and how they were abused and mistreated, the questioning of how people were held there, this is one aspect of this that should come up. This boy's specific case as well. You can argue one way or the other about putting a picture of the person was killed -- that's part of it. But this is the person that in the news now. This is the one that was a minor at the time. And he is being involved in the case now.
SCOTT: Jane, do you think that tape had the lawyer's intended effect?
HALL: I think it did. And one thing I'm wonders is why someone is that young going out and allegedly killing a U.S. soldier? I think the media took up the cause of Guantanamo, and a lot of people in the rest of the world think Guantanamo is a bad thing. And so you have an odd thing where the media in this country are more in agreement with people other than our own government.
SCOTT: We have to take a quick break. When we come back...
ANNOUNCER: "The Times" they are a changing, and Jib Jab says it is time for some campaigning. Next on the "News Watch".
SCOTT: With Election Day only 15 short weeks away and the political conventions right around the corner, the creative folks at Jib Jab felt it time to make a little campaign contribution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(JIB JAB'S "IT'S TIME FOR SOME CAMPAIGNING" VIDEO)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: We had fun in the studio. We hope you liked it at home.
That's our show for this week.
Thanks to Jane Hall, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Joe Strupp.
I'm Jon Scott. We thank you for watching. Keep it right here on FOX News channel. The "FOX Report" is up next.
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