This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," September 6, 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," feeding frenzy! Sarah Palin and her family caught in a media maelstrom. Has the coverage been fair or has the press sunk to a new low?
John McCain's star shines in St. Paul. How was this convention covered?
Plus, Barack Obama finally enters the no-spin zone. Good campaign strategy or not?
Jon Stewart wants to know what's going on in another cable network.
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 Joe Strupp, senior editor at "Editor & Publisher" magazine.
I am Jon Scott. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here is a little news flash for those reporters and commentators. I am not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I am going to Washington to serve the people of this great country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, chiding her media critics there in her speech to the GOP convention on Wednesday night. A speech, by the way, that more than 37 million Americans tuned in to see, almost as big as Barack Obama speech the week before.
Jim, so what would you say is a media narrative? Maybe there's more than one, but what's the overall media narrative about her life, since most Americans got to know her eight days ago?
JIM PINKERTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR & WRITER, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: That's a hard question. I would just say this. More important than that is, because there are so many media outlets now, it's hard to pick one narrative. The Palin narrative is she is in a war with the mainstream media, a subset of the media. She is taking it right to them, in a way Republicans love, and it is reminiscent of what Spiro Agnew was doing forty years ago. And that's why Pat Buchanan, who was a fierce critic of the Bush administration, no real fan of McCain, is now in love with the McCain- Palin ticket because he actually wrote those lines for Spiro Agnew four decades ago. He is feeling reminiscent and loves Palin and loves her clobbering what's left of the eastern establishment.
SCOTT: Jane, we just got the results of a Rasmussen poll. 51 percent think the media coverage is hurting Sarah Palin. The second part of that, 24 percent said the negative coverage is going to make them more likely to vote for McCain-Palin. Does that mean Republicans are going to want to try to continue the drum beat of bad press, if you will?
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. I think no one ever went broke running against the media. It plays particularly well right now because people went after her, not people. US Weekly magazine went after her and people picked up on the personal revelations. I think the Republicans -- I saw Tom DeLay thanked the media, saying thank you, because things heated up and 37 million people saw her give an accounting of herself that was very engaging, very winning.
SCOTT: I hope we can get that US Weekly cover up here in a second. There it is -- "Babies, Lies and Scandals."
Joe, I know it's not your magazine, but how do you defend that kind of a headline?
JOE STRUPP, SENIOR EDITOR, EDITOR & PUBLISHER: "US" magazine, it's not The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek. There's a lot of coverage out there, a lot of angles. If you have to go to entertainment magazine to start your criticism of how that woman is being covered, you are on shaky ground.
SCOTT: Don't you think it as an impact?
STRUPP: You try to make it an impact if you're trying to make the media as the villain. This woman is a less known person. She is a new face and got inexperience questions. She's got some positive elements as well. It all shuffles out and you can't attack the media completely. McCain and the Republicans do this. They do it effectively to a degree. But she will have to sit down and get her interviews in if she is going to have credibility. You run with the base at the delegation of the convention, but you have to run with the whole country.
SCOTT: Take a look at the coverage the other side gets. Obama has been on the cover of "Newsweek" four times, something like that, in the last couple of months. Here is "US Weekly," how it covers the Obamas: [Here’s the cover story headline] “Why Barack Loves Her.”
Cal, you must have an opinion on this.
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is big at the checkout lines. Of course, a lot of women read this magazine. That's a great influence in the election.
But I want to mention something else here. The media have an incredible double standard when it comes to women. For 30 years or more they have been pushing woman in the workplace, women in the marketplace, put your young kids in daycare, work 12-hour days. Look at the full page ads in The New York Times when they honor these women. every single one of them are professional women. They never honor stay-at-home mothers.
Now, all of a sudden, they are saying she should have stayed at home with her children. Look at the Down syndrome child and their daughter that is pregnant. She is not spending enough time at home. Well, which is it?
SCOTT: Jane is champing at the bit to get in here.
HALL: I think the difference between the coverage of Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin could not be stronger. I was offended by it. A lot of people I know were offended by it. Women -- the interesting thing is -- the unfortunate thing is, what's happened now is, if you do any reporting, if you go up to Alaska and report on her as "The New York Times," "Washington post" other places are doing, that is a very offensive, how dare she make the choices she made commentary. Sally Quinn wrote negatively about her in the "Washington Post". That's different than saying what's her record. She is almost inoculated herself against criticism. She didn't do it herself, but the media had done it for her.
SCOTT: Why is it that Chelsea Clinton was off limits when she was occupying the White House? She was 12 years old when she first got there, but she was off limits. Here we have Sarah Palin's daughter, who is not even in the White House, not part of the campaign, not even part of an administration, and she gets an awful lot of criticism.
PINKERTON: My hunch, off the top of my head, media bias.
STRUPP: Oh, please. Come on.
PINKERTON: As John Harwood, who used to be at CNBC and The The New York Times, [and who] is now at NBC, has said, it's a liberal press. He said it on CNBC the other day. But the millionth reporter to admit the obvious, all of the polls show 70, 80, 90 percent of mainstream reporters voting Democrat in election after election after election. Obviously, that weighs on their choice of coverage.
STRUPP: I think you have two different things here. You have Chelsea Clinton, if she had been pregnant as a teenager when the parents were running, that would have gotten coverage. There's overkill on this young woman when you start following her around and following her boyfriend's Facebook and MySpace page. That can go over the line. When you have the candidate bringing her out, announcing she is pregnant, saying, yes, she's going to marry the boyfriend. We bring her to the convention. We show her off. It's fair game in terms of mentioning as an issue, especially when there are things like, you want sex education or if you want abortion. it's relevant. Compared to Chelsea Clinton, it's different because of the two circumstances.
SCOTT: If she didn't do that, wouldn't the media say, you are hiding her?
STRUPP: I don't know. We didn't see if that happened.
SCOTT: You're covering up.
STRUPP: You can always say the things would have been handled and would have been covered. this is what we are dealing with.
THOMAS: Not that we need more evidence of media bias, but according to the "Wall Street Journal" on Friday, Andrea Mitchell got on MSNBC and said, only the uneducated will vote for Sarah Palin. I rest my case.
PINKERTON: Which takes us back to the point here, which is the American people verses the media. That has been the dynamic in American politics for the last 40 years. The McCain campaign is playing on it brilliantly. It has a lot of juice and a lot of energy it's probably the best thing they have going in terms of the election.
HALL: We have a campaign that is now saying we are the agents of change. John McCain has been there for 30 years. They are saying, oh, the Republican -- the line is working. They are beating up on the media. They are saying they are elitist. As someone pointed out, Mitt Romney was beating up on the eastern establishment. He's a gazillionaire in the east. It's working.
PINKERTON: It's working because it's true. The elite the American people are more opposed to are is media cultural elites run out of New York City.
SCOTT: All right, time for a break. First, if you want to hear what we are talking about during the commercial break, check out our web site, FOXnews.com/FOXnewswatch.
We will be back in three minutes with this.
ANNOUNCER: From the storm to the spotlight, John McCain takes center stage in St. Paul. After all the hoopla and fights surrounding Obama, how was his speech covered?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me just offer an advanced warning to the old big-spending, do-nothing, me-first, country- second crowd, change is coming.
(end video clip)
SCOTT: John McCain there, accepting the Republican Party's nomination Thursday night in St. Paul.
All right. So Cal, change is now the theme of the McCain campaign. It started with the Obama campaign. Give us your take on the coverage of the McCain speech verses coverage of the Obama speech?
THOMAS: When you say change is coming, remind me of the previous campaign where the slogan was help is on the way. These guys -- the questions that are never asked. Some editorial writers have properly asked them, what do you mean? Don't you know there are 535 members of Congress, not to say all of the lobbyists and lawyers, who might have a different idea of change and might like the status quo just the way it is. Nobody asked them that. They are both corrupt. Both parties are corrupt. Very few people are saying this, including in the media.
SCOTT: Including John McCain.
THOMAS: Including John McCain. They never say how they are going to do it. We're going to come in -- well, he has been there 26 years.
PINKERTON: He hasn't been president though. I thought one of the more interesting articles about John McCain I ever read was in "Newsweek" by John McCain, a discussion about his family background. It's really clear -- and Beauchamp wanted to communicate this. McCain is genuinely different in many, many ways, most obviously, the military background and whole attitude toward public service and the aftermath. So if the bully pulpit means anything, as Teddy Roosevelt, who was McCain's hero, said a hundred years ago, the bully pulpit has the power to persuade, he could change things.
STRUPP: We would have a president who went to Vietnam after having two get out of going to Vietnam. Everyone was in World War II. The question that's important that you bring up is you've got to look into these. One is the money involved. We all know money drives what these people do, how they run, how they can get things they need.
PINKERTON: We don't know that. We don't know that. You say that, but we don't know that.
STRUPP: There's an element of money in all these elections. Both parties, we all know, it's a big piece in what is decided and how policy is run. The other one is you have to get the fact-based issue questions in there for both McCain and Obama and Palin and Biden. To give O'Reilly credit, he brought it up to Obama. In his interview, we got to see more of that and get away from all of this superficial element on both sides.
PINKERTON: Giuliani and Romney both enormously out-spent McCain and they lost.
HALL: One line that was effective of Sarah Palin's was after they took down the Styrofoam pillars. That's another vein that they mined.
SCOTT: That was a great line. "Designed by Britney Spears' set designer."
HALL: Right. I think Obama has been coming in for pretty negative coverage ever since -- people probably before disagree with me. He was treated, this is what he has to do, then people said he did well at it. I think with the McCain coverage, of the speech that I have seen, it's pretty constrained. We all know oratory is not his strong suit. It is Obama's strong suit. I think he got evenhanded coverage of it.
What is very interesting to me is, again, fact-based questions. What do we mean by maverick? That's another one. He has that reputation heretofore. Obama says the opposite is true, that he voted with Bush. Let's see some facts in the reporting.
PINKERTON: The facts are what McCain said in his speech. He said we are worse off than four years ago. That was on a commercial. McCain is running his own insurgency inside the Republican Party. It's working well with the crowd.
THOMAS: There were two different attitudes applied to these two different conventions. I was at both of them. John King of CNN, to his everlasting credit, got at it this past week in an interview he had with Karl Bernstein. This is what he said. John King said, "We do speak a different language when we talk about the Republicans. That's why we are often criticized. To say the right is running the Republican campaign, and then we don't say anything about the teacher's union and AFL-CIO. Are they running the Obama campaign? And all of these delegates down on the floor, you know, many of them were members of the left." He absolutely got it right. There's a different standard applied. We have heard it on this show already. Look at all of those rich, white Republicans, as if they are somehow less worthy of that more diverse Democratic convention.
PINKERTON: Hats off to Michelle Mulligan for pointing out that when they talk about Obama, the community organizer, they are talking about ACORN, which is a left wing group funded by the U.S. government to be activists and do (inaudible).
SCOTT: We are going to take another short break. We will be back with this.
ANNOUNCER: Bill verses Barack. The Democratic presidential candidate enters the no-spin zone. Was it a masterful media moment? That's next on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have already said it's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, which is...
BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": So why can't you say, I was right in the beginning and I was wrong about the surge?
OBAMA: Because there's an underlying problem with what we've done. We have reduced the violence.
OBAMA: But Iraqis still haven't taken responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's just part of the interview FOX News' Bill O'Reilly did this week with Barack Obama. The rest will air Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week on "The Factor."
Cal, you saw Barack Obama sit down with him. How did he do?
THOMAS: I think he did well. Bill did well, too. He got information out of him, an admission out of him that nobody else has been able to get - - the surge worked. Why does it take so long? Then he went to the Democratic fall-back position that, well, there hasn't been a complete political settlement here. I think there was a little difficulty in the United States after the revolution, before we got some kind of political settlement. As anybody who saw the HBO series, there was fighting that continued right after the George Washington administration between John Adams and Hamilton and all those other guys.
PINKERTON: Cal, was it violence between Adams and Jefferson?
THOMAS: Of course, it wasn't.
PINKERTON: OK, just for clarity here.
THOMAS: I saw all parts. There was no violence!
SCOTT: Should Obama appear on FOX News channel more in the next eight weeks until Election Day?
HALL: Maybe. I think O'Reilly did a really good job. And it was a serious choice to lead with his views on national security, which is his perceived weakness, if you don't like him. He asked about Iran. Whoever is president will have to face a potentially nuclear Iran. I thought it was good. I look forward to the next thing. I think it will depend which show, which venue behooves them to do it or not. I think he should be on more.
PINKERTON: Every candidate has to go into the arena. That is what got Richard Nixon elected. Palin has to do it sometime between now and Election Day. Obama should be all over it, into the lion's den. It makes you look good. He did well. It's just how you get elected.
STRUPP: You prove you're tough.
SCOTT: I just think Joe, some of these politicians, of both parties, if they're not willing to sit down with Bill O'Reilly, what are they going to do when they face to face with Vladimir Putin or Medvedev or whoever is running it?
STRUPP: A lot of people say, Obama, what are you going to gain going on O'Reilly's show. His audience generally isn't your audience. But O'Reilly handled it fairly. -- But put pressure on him. Obama responded properly. We'll see the rest of the interview this week. If the rest of it goes this way, it shows he should be on. And the rest of them should be on too, including Sarah Palin.
PINKERTON: Newt Gingrich had the best idea of all, which McCain does routinely and Obama hasn't done, these town meetings. They should have debates every week. What hurt Obama badly a month ago was him refusing McCain's offer to do the weekly town meetings? That's when all the Britney Spears, celebrity stuff and the idea that Obama is just vaporous came along because he chickened out on head-to-head confrontation. That's what people want to see. That's what politics is, whether domestic or international, it's head to head. You argue, discuss, figure something out, you win. If you can't do that on television, then there's no reason to think you can't do it as president.
THOMAS: Well, the McCain-Palin press people are keeping them isolated. I tried repeatedly to get interviews with both of them. They haven't talked to anybody. It'll be interesting to see who they talk to. And whether they talk to liberals they've been bashing in the media or the people they think are liberal, or if they come and talk to some of the conservatives.
SCOTT: All right, we have to take one more break. When we come back...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART: They are beating each other up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Just how bad is the feuding at MSNBC? Jon Stewart sits down with Brian Williams and he wants answers, next on "News Watch."
SCOTT: "If you don't like St. Paul, you've got a screw loose," -- those are the words of NBC anchor, Brian Williams. He is talking about the city, not the biblical figure. With comments like that, it is not hard to see that he has a sense of humor. He is known for that. He's also hosted "Saturday Night Live" and has been a guest on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart eight times. You can only imagine what Brian had to say about the fighting going on at over -- oh, well, let's just say it's another cable news network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Let me ask you this. You are NBC. You're the top dog. You're the anchor. Then they send you over to MSNBC, and it -- literally, they are beating each other up. It's Matthews is yelling at Olbermann. Scarborough is yelling at David Shuster. You have to apparently ask some of the women there if they would check a box if they like you. Is -- is there no control? Is it lord of the flies? Does anybody have the conch? Can anybody be the leader over there? Could you go in there or is it all just Piggy? What's going on?
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: We're doing this, aren't we?
STEWART: Can you gain control over these people?
WILLIAMS: Jon, I think every family has a dynamic all -- is this working? Has a dynamic all its own. And you -- sometimes it takes a figure to come in.
STEWART: But does MSNBC have to be the Lohans, I guess, is what I'm saying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Unfortunately, that's all the time we have left this week.
I want to thank Jane Hall, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Joe Strupp.
I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for joining us. Keep it right here on the FOX News Channel.
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Content and Programming Copyright 2008 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2008 ASC LLC (www.ascllc.net), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and ASC LLC's copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation