This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," November 22, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: This week on FOX "News Watch," President-elect Obama starts to put together his team. What is the press saying about his possible cabinet picks?
The big three beg for a bailout. But is the coverage keeping Congress from lending a hand?
Plus, no more pain at the pump. So why haven't you heard more about this good news?
Also, pirates on the high seas. How is this story being covered?
And Angelina and Brad's alleged deal with "People" magazine." What did they agree to?
On the panel this week, Jane Hall of the American University; syndicated columnist Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, columnist and fellow at the "New American Foundation"; and Marisa Guthrie, programming editor for "Broadcasting and Cable" magazine.
I'm Jon Scott. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, (D), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If he decided to ask her to do it and they did it together, I think she's really great as being secretary of state. But I have no idea what is going to happen. I have been here. And if I did have any idea, I wouldn't tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's former president Clinton in Kuwait responding to a question whether or not his wife will become the next secretary of state.
Jim, it seems like there's been some permutation of this story every day. Will she, won't she, will she take it, will she get it? Has the press coverage helped or hurt her chances, do you think?
JIM PINKERTON, COLUMNIST & FELLOW, "NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION": I'm not sure it's helped or hurt her chances. I will say, this has been a great gift to reporters. The Clinton soap opera, which we thought might have ended after they left office in 2000, and restarted again when she came to the Senate and then restarted again with her presidential campaign, including the endless infighting there. Now we have four, maybe eight years of more of it to look forward to.
SCOTT: So we thought we wouldn't have Bill and Hillary to kick around anymore.
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think it has been kind of fun to see the speculation. Everybody's saying this is a team of rivals. She's (inaudible). I'm looking for the picture of him with his five-star hat and her with the beard that's been on some publications.
I think it's interesting to see that cable news has been the venue for a lot of people who wanted her to get the job, be out there talking about how she should get the job. I don't think there's much discussion of whether this is or is not a good idea. There's been just kind of, wow, isn't this exciting horse-race stuff but is it a good idea what happens to Joe Biden? There's a lot not being discussed.
SCOTT: What about that? What about the coverage of the concept itself, Cal?
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Before I get to that I've got to thank and praise Rachel Maddow, of all things, on her show on MSNBC Thursday night, actually showed there may be a break in the liberal dam. She had all of these picks and potential picks on the screen behind her and said -- it said, change we can believe in. And she was lamenting the fact that Obama looks like he's doing Clinton retreads, and all these people from the past, and nobody new and young and hip. If liberals are just starting to suggest maybe Obama isn't a messiah after all, this is a good sign.
SCOTT: Marisa, what about it? Barack Obama's campaign -- during the campaign, the press operation was very disciplined. Not a lot of leaks. All of a sudden this Hillary Clinton comes up and it seems to be leaking like a sieve.
MARISA GUTHRIE, PROGRAMMING EDITOR, "BROADCASTING & CABLE" MAGAZINE: The Clintons have always been a leaky ship. Now that the Obama team is leaking in reaction to their leaks. That ratchets up the drama.
HALL: That could be a great way of the problem with Iran, competitive leaking.
PINKERTON: The problem is the Clinton people are also the Obama people. The "Wall Street Journal" had an item of the negotiations for the vetting going on. All the people on the Clinton side obviously were Clinton leftovers from the '90s. But all the people on the Obama side, like John Podesta, were also Clinton people. So...
SCOTT: And they all share the same rolodex, so they're all leaking to reporters.
PINKERTON: What a great show.
THOMAS: Too many leaks can sink a ship, you know.
HALL: The other thing is, a lot of people, as Cal was saying, on the left, people who were strongly opposed to this war, who were early supporters of Obama -- I haven't seen much coverage of the fact Hillary Clinton voted for the war and a lot of people voted for Obama because he was not in favor of it or said he wasn't. There's a lot that's not being covered. We're all just excited to have the Clintons stick around. That seems to be the end of the whole subject.
SCOTT: Cal, you wrote about Eric Holder, the man who is apparently going to be his nominee for attorney general. You wrote a piece on the FOX Forum about that.
THOMAS: Well, Eric Holder has always been nice to me. He says hi to me on the shuttle every week on I see him on the shuttle when I see him. I think the media are finally getting around to dredging up some of these things they said were not as important when these guys were in power...
SCOTT: You're talking about the Marc Rich pardon?
THOMAS: The Marc Rich pardon and a number of other things. Holder said that was a last-minute thing Clinton did, not a lot of other things on my desk at the moment, a lot of things on my mind. But he signed off on it. Maybe we'll get accountability in retrospective. Maybe we'll go back and hold people accountable who should have been held accountable then.
PINKERTON: Let's hope Republicans rediscover the Constitution. Now that they don't have the White House any more, they can rethink the value of advice and consent of the Senate. Also ask Holder about the Mark Rich pardon. Also ask him why in 1999, as deputy attorney general, he was talking about suppressing the Internet.
SCOTT: Should the media be doing that? You talk about Republicans, should the media be doing that?
PINKERTON: I think so and I think they will. The problem is, if it's just reporters getting no comments from flaps, that's not as good going under oath before the Senate.
SCOTT: The other thing we've been hearing about is this team of rivals concept, that Barack Obama's been reading that book and he's trying to set that up in his own cabinet. Is there too much media hype about that or is that just something that...
HALL: Well, I think it's appealing to have -- OK, I'm trying not to make a dig too much. It's nice to have a president read and write. You know, it's a good thing. And I think that it's appealing to people that he's trying to emulate FDR. People are comparing him to Lincoln. I think it remains to be seen.
One thing also that I haven't seen much coverage of, why isn't he moving more on the economic front. A lot could happen that's really bad in the next few months. Again, why aren't people asking more questions? It's like a lovefest still.
PINKERTON: Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, which was released in 2005, was a best seller then, is back on the best seller list because we're all trying to interpret all these moves by this. It's certainly a great marketing play for her.
GUTHRIE: I think the market crashing, again, this week, yes, on Thursday. It was I think a wake-up call for a lot in the media about Obama not naming a treasury secretary. I mean, Paulson's up there speaking and the market is literally diving as he's talking. I think that brought home a lot of what is not being done in the Obama administration and the distraction of the Clinton secretary of state drama.
SCOTT: All right. This story is hot off the press. According to "The New York Times," Angelina Jolie managed to strike the deal of the lifetime deal with "People" magazine earlier this year. So how did she guarantee allegedly positive coverage for life? That story later. But first...
ANNOUNCER: Forecasting disaster, the big three car makers wing their way to Washington to beg for a big cash bailout. But does the press stall in their coverage? Answer's next on "News Watch."
(FOX NEWS BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT NARDELLI, CHRYSLER CEO: We cannot be confident that we'll be able to successfully emerge from bankruptcy. That's why as an industry, we're requesting a $25 billion working capital bridge to survive this liquidity crisis. We're willing to provide full financial transparency and welcome the government as stake holders, including an equity holder.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Until we can see a plan where the auto industry is held accountable and a plan for viability on how they go into the future, until we see the plan, until they show us the plan, we cannot show them the money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi there responding to pleas for a bailout from the CEOs of Americas three major auto makers.
Cal, one of the moments that the press jumped on in that House hearing is when the congressmen pointed out all three of those execs have flown in on corporate jets. Did the media make too much of that or is that a valid point?
THOMAS: No, it was a valid point. They didn't even plane pool. Couldn't they have gotten together and come on at least the same plane. Even first class commercial would have been better than this.
These people are totally tone deaf to the public relations angle on this. Don't they all have P.R. departments? They're either not listening to them or they out to fire them all. It's the most unbelievable insensitive -- when you're trying to get $25 billion from the American taxpayers' money, you're flying in on private jets. Incredible.
SCOTT: Well, they're selling.
SCOTT: They are selling. I mean, G.M announced...
PINKERTON: I think the "New York Post" editorial page put it well. They said they obviously didn't really want the bailout.
SCOTT: Marisa, how would you sum up the media narrative of the coverage for the request for the bailout and machinations behind whether they get it or not and how it gets put together?
GUTHRIE: I think since no one likes how TARP is being used -- the bailout of the banks has failed. We're loath to go into another bailout and, you know, the fact...
SCOTT: Is it fair to say, you know, most of us don't understand how they're trying to bail out the banks. That's kind of boring. That kind of inside baseball. But G.M., you get that. You read about that.
GUTHRIE: Right. We get that it's throwing bad -- the narrative is it's throwing money after good and that this is an industry that has antiquated and tried -- it was too little too late to rescue themselves. Now G.M. is apparently selling to their planes. It's sort of like Imelda Marcos getting rid of a couple of pairs of shoes at this point.
HALL: I think it was interesting, Tom Freidman had a column in the "New York Times" that basically, I think, started the editorial page saying it's bad money being thrown away. I think they also suffer from being the next guys over the hill. Nobody liked the bailout and now let's go after them.
But the thing that has not been pointed, except, I've seen, by Friedman, was that it's been a lot of Democratic lawmakers -- a lot of people enabled these guys not to invade, enabled them not to build hybrid cars, enabled them to have a bunch of gas guzzling cars that got counted as trucks. Congress did that. They seem very high and mighty today, but they've been part of the problem.
PINKERTON: I would maybe add that the Democratic Congress is trying to put the auto industry out of business. They just deposed the pro-auto industry chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, John Dingell and replaced him with Henry Waxman who, I think, will oversee the extinction of the auto industry. And he is from California and he won't care.
THOMAS: The big media have a role to play in this too. Certainly Congress does. But "The New York Times," "Washington Post," "L.A. Times" and other newspaper editorials were championing all of these supposed advances and environmental benefits to the culture and country, knowing what was coming. Or if they didn't know, they weren't doing their homework.
Now that we have this enormous problem, they're saying, wait a minute, it wasn't our fault. Our intentions were good. That's all that matters. You can't have it both ways. It's like the banking industry. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank have not been held to account by most of the major media for what they allowed happen to Fannie and Freddie.
SCOTT: Marisa, would you agree -- I mean, the automakers say the coverage of the precarious situation has been horrible and that it might be anti-American or maybe anti-union. What do you think of that?
GUTHRIE: The fact that we no longer have any manufacturing in this country is obviously a problem. Cal's right, they were totally tone deaf and the corporate jet thing was picked up by Congress. I mean, they were the ones bashing these CEO's for the corporate jet.
SCOTT: And they used the media to do it.
GUTHRIE: And the media picked it up because it's an irresistible headline.
SCOTT: It's time for another break. A little bit later in the show, Brad and Angelina get more than just a whole lot of cash from "People" magazine. An agreement as well. You'll want to hear about that. But first...
ANNUONCER: Pirates on the high seas make headlines as the media tries to cover the danger and drama. And did you hear? Gas prices have dropped and so has the coverage. All next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Earlier this year, skyrocketing oil prices drove the price of a gallon of gas to well over four bucks a gallon. Now it's hovering around $2, the cheapest it's been since 2005.
Marisa, we used the phrase pain at the pump so much on the other show that I anchor here at "FOX News" channel, that I officially banned that phrase. I was sick of it. Now that it's down to two bucks, even less than two bucks a gallon, nobody seems to be covering it. Why?
GUTHRIE: The media's not covering the good news? It's hard to get excited about cheap gas when you don't have a job, your 401Ks down to a 201K. I think maybe this is a silver lining, but it's a really hard silver lining to get excited about.
PINKERTON: Just to put this in context, last year, in 2008, when the price was rising, it hurt Bush and McCain. And the media were all for it. Now that the price is falling, actually the real media agenda, which is higher energy prices to pay for electrics cars and so on, is not being well-served, so they just pretend the price is still $4, because they want to justify the electric automobiles and so on. There going to...
SCOTT: It is true, Jane, that when the gas prices were was up over $4 a gallon, if Barack Obama, who was then a candidate would say, the Bush administration is responsible for these higher oil prices, nobody said, hey, the market is responsible for higher oil prices, did they?
HALL: I think those pain at the pump stories do have an impact. I think unfortunately the joblessness rate and a few other things in this economy and the stories I've seen, people are not driving because of all the reasons that Marisa said. So I don't think there's a stealth agenda on the part of the media to avoid the good news. There's so much bad news. This doesn't look like real good news to me except it's isolate -- you know, it's a good thing. But not in the context of...
PINKERTON: Hold on. It is. What is they said, this is hurting our enemies, like Russia and Venezuela and Iran, badly, because the price of oil is now $46 or whatever it is. That's taking away the access money they use to invade Georgia and threaten everybody in the Middle East and so on. Not a word of that.
THOMAS: One of the problems we've had for a number of years in the media, and the entire media, mostly journalists, is these charges get put out there, either gifts of the Bush administration or somebody else, and journalists don't examine the substance like of it like they do during a political campaign. At least "The Washington Post" and sometimes on O'Reilly with his reality check on this channel, they look at certain claims and promises to see the facts behind them. The facts are, as you suggested, no president has the power to increase or to lower gas prices. Those are market forces. And who talked about that probably more than anybody else, Neil Cavuto.
SCOTT: Another story making headlines, pirates off the coast of Somalia. They are very real. They are very dangerous. More than nine ships seized in 12 days or so. The question is the coverage. Are the media making too much of this or is...
PINKERTON: I think it is a pretty big story but let's face it. What news operation other than al-Jazeera and BBC has the money to put a reporter in those places? We see the bylines from London. That's as much as you can afford to get a guy to cover the story. This is a great story and ought to get more coverage, and it will, but on the "Discovery Channel."
SCOTT: In some circles they run clips of Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean," and kind of make a joke out of it.
THOMAS: The word pirates doesn't have the same connotation as it did, say, back in the days when Thomas Jefferson dispatched the U.S. Navy to take on -- what was it, I think the Barbary Coast. You were alive back then, I think.
THOAMS: We think of Johnny Depp or "Pirates of the Caribbean" or a thrill ride at Disney. These guys ought to be called hijackers. They're hijackers of ships and tankers just as though they had chosen airplanes. We wouldn't call them pirates if they hijacked airplanes, the media wouldn't. We call them pirates when they hijack ships.
SCOTT: Should the media find a different word for these guys?
GUTHRIE: That word has been used since the 18th century. It does give it a whimsical quality. Also I think, you know, these things are happening over there. They're happening off the coast of Africa. They're happening to Saudi tankers. Jim's right. News divisions don't have people on the ground there to cover this stuff.
HALL: In history though, you hear it, and then you hear one tanker, it was $100 million worth of crude oil. Talk about pain at the pump. That's pain at the pump.
SCOTT: But if the price drops a little bit more, it will be $80 million.
PINKERTON: I wonder if the Saudis could afford to defend themselves instead of relying on the Indians, or NATO or the U.S.
SCOTT: That is a question -- the best part about this is the pirates have a spokesman. I mean, there is -- have they learned media manipulation or what?
THOMAS: Yes. But how do you be a spokesman for a bunch of pirates?
PINKERTON: Even the Taliban has spokesmen. I mean, sure, why not.
THOMAS: How do you apply for a job like that?
HALL: Hamas, everyone has a spokesman.
SCOTT: We have to take one more break. They are the hottest couple on the planet still. And when "People" magazine published pictures of their twins earlier this year, the pair just didn't just get money. According to "The New York Times" they got a whole lot more. We'll be back to tell you about their pact with "People" in two minutes.
SCOTT: We have been talking about some very weighty topic today, the next president's cabinet, Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, a possible bailout for the big three automakers. But we can only go so long without talking about actress Angelina Jolie, her partner, Brad Pitt, and the press that loves to cover them.
Friday's "New York Times" brought word of a pact between the couple and "People magazine." According to the "Times," when the couple agreed to sell the first photos of their newborn twins to "People" earlier this year, they got more than just $14 million. They also agreed to an editorial plan, the "Times" says, that promised coverage would be positive, and not just for that special issue, but in future issues as well.
Among the terms, according to the "Times," the magazine agreed not to refer to the couple as Brangelina, a favorite tabloid term they reportedly despise.
Responding to the "Times" report, "People" magazine released a statement. "These claims," it says, "are categorically false. Like any news organization, 'People' does purchase photos, but the magazine does not determine editorial content based on the demands of outside parties."
Except that this party is inside the magazine. We should add the couple pledged to give all of the $14 million they received to charity. But who is telling the truth here, the "Times" or "People"?
Stars have always tried to control their image in the press. One media web site suggested on Friday that "People" should try to forcefully cut down this report. How might they do that? It suggests that, at the very least, the magazine should run a few unflattering pictures of the Brangelina troop to prove their editorial independence.
And having used that term, I suppose we will never get Brad and Angelina on this program.
That's all of the news we can fit in on this weighty topic tonight.
I want to thank Jane Hall, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Marisa Guthrie.
I am Jon Scott. We want to thank you for watching "News Watch". Keep it right here on FOX News Channel. The "FOX Report" is up next.
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