This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," March 7, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: Tonight, on "News Watch," campaign promises go out the window as our new president speeds forward with his porked-up spending plan. Has press coverage stalled on that issue?
Vice President Biden attends a big deal union meeting, and the press is banned. Where is the transparency? Where is the outrage?
Rush Limbaugh speaks his mind, then takes shots from the left. Is there a White House effort to undermine the right?
SCOTT: Global warming protesters march on icy Washington. Did the press miss the irony? Did they miss the facts?
Newsweek thinks a radical fringe should make good neighbors. We have some suggestions.
And they are all a Twitter. News anchors everywhere go tweet, tweet, tweet. What is up?
On the panel this week, Jane Hall, of the American university; the editor of the National Review, Rich Lowry; Jim Pinkerton, columnist and fellow, New America Foundation; and Kirsten Powers, New York Post columnist and FOX News analyst.
I'm Jon Scott. FOX "News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is our earmark system, what's called pork barrel spending in Washington, is fraught with abuse. It badly needs reform.
Absolutely, we need earmark reform. When I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That was candidate Obama with pre-election promises. But with his earmark laden stimulus plan that promise appears to have gone out the window. Has the press noticed?
What about it, Kirsten? At one of the White House press conferences, his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, says that was last year's story!
KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST & FOX NEWS ANALYST: Well that's their approach, saying the budget was pretty much done and they let it go the way it is. I think they probably could go through it. They know where the earmarks are and they could get rid of them.
That said, I don't know how much the media can talk about this as a news story in itself. It has been covered to the extent that we know the earmarks there are, people are complaining about it and John McCain was railing against it. It is not something you're going to have leading the news every single night.
SCOTT: They are there and we need to live with them?
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: You know, I was laughing. This last year's earmark is this year's job creation program.
I think that's part of what is going on. I also think that this is one of those — I hate to say it inside the beltway concerns. I think what is more interesting to me is you have Paul Krugman, fairly left, and David Brooks from the New York Times. In Friday's New York Times, both saying they have concerns about Obama's plans. What is he doing? What is happening with the banks? That is a discussion I think is not happening.
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIWE: Obama has been getting away with murder. He's more or less been punting on the most important issue in this economy, dragging down the markets, which is the financial crisis, so he can divert attention to what he wants to do, which is create another great society. What we've seen in the pundocracy over the last week or so is more moderate analysts — and I wouldn't include Paul Krugman in that by any means — but kind of jumping off the bandwagon. David Brooks is so agonized by this. You want to say, David, it is going to be OK. He's heartbroken this supposed pragmatist hasn't turned out as advertised.
SCOTT: Talking about the budget and earmarks, Jim, if it were President Bush, would the media give him the pass that — that...
I guess that's no.
JIM PINKERTON, COLUMNIST & FELLOW, NEW AMERICAN FOUNDATION: I think the answer is probably not. I think that the — I agree that you can only keep the issue of keep fruit research in the paper for a limited number of times. The real story is that President Obama seems to have ceded control of his economic agenda, certainly on spending, to the Democrats in Congress. And I don't think reporters can get their heads around the fact that it is David Obey and Nancy Pelosi who are running the show in Washington, not President Obama
SCOTT: You suggested, Kirsten, that people are — I think you suggested that people are accustomed to earmarks and it is not that big a deal. Isn't that what the press is supposed to do to, to ferret this stuff out and lay it out there for the American people?
KIRSTEN: I didn't mean they were accustomed to it. I think there's some things that don't lend — doesn't lend itself to a snazzy story everyday. I think it's one of those things like, how many times are you going to your editor and say I want to write about earmarks again? You can do a couple of stories...
SCOTT: "America's Newsroom" on FOX has the earmark of the day everyday and they seem to do all right.
LOWRY: But that's with these very dramatic instances of wasteful spending, which make it a good hook. And it has hypocrisy, which makes it a good hook.
But I think Jim is right that Obama is ceding this stuff to Congress. I think reason is he doesn't care about excessive spending. And the reason no one is surprised he hasn't gone line by line through the budget, cutting spending is because no one took — I don't think anyone serious would have taken that promise seriously during the campaign. It was obviously nonsense.
PINKERTON: Just a little perspective. A couple million dollars for some stupid program somewhere is nothing compared to $150 billion down the toilet for AIG. It is easier to go after the earmarks. At least you can get those in your head. Whereas these 10 zero figures are off the charts to people's comprehension.
SCOTT: Should the media be doing a better job?
HALL: I think the media could be doing a better job of pointing out fruit fly research and all the things. But I agree — you know, I think the other number is so big — you know, sometimes you focus on something small, because you can get your mind around it. I haven't seen anybody question whether he's talking too much to Wall Street, whether he's got too many people who are, you know, big people in Wall Street that helped us get into this fix. There's a lot bigger fish to fry to use the southern expression.
PINKERTON: If he's in bed with Wall Street you wouldn't know it, given the market is down $2.5 trillion since he was inaugurated.
HALL: Exactly. But it's the people making the policies.
LOWRY: Maybe he invented the market to market...
HALL: The people making the policy are some of the same people that got us into trouble, like Geithner.
SCOTT: He still has a lot of openings in the Treasury Department, that's for sure.
If you want to hear what we're talking about during our commercials, go to our Web site FOXnews.com/FOXnewswatch.
We will be back in two minutes with this.
ANNOUNCER: The king of conservative talk takes the stage, speaks his mind and gets slammed by the drive-by media. Does Limbaugh scare the press? And are TV anchors obsessed with tweets and Twitters? That's next, on "News Watch."
(FOX NEWS BREAK)
SCOTT: CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, wrapped up last weekend in Washington with headliner, radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh. His speech, a huge draw for the audience and the media, especially this part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: So where is it — what is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capital and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: CNN and others in the media were quick to respond to his speech. On CNN, contributor Bill Snyder described the speeches tone as bullying, mockery and contempt, and says some of Limbaugh's comments were very, very divisive.
The White House took the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAHM EMANUEL, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party. And he has been up front about what he views, and hasn't stepped back from that, which is he hopes for failure. He said it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That brought the accusation that the White House is trying to drive a wedge into the Republican Party. Is it succeeding in this so- called Limbaugh strategy?
He is not an elected official, Rich Lowry, why go after Rush?
LOWRY: Look, he's a hugely important conservative opinion maker. But he's not the chairman of the RNC. He's not going to be running in any congressional races next year, not running for president. So this is a tactic Democrats tried before. Bill Clinton did it in the 90s. It's a tempest in a teapot. We all love to talk about it. Rush is great copy, hugely entertaining guy. this is not the most important question in American politics by any means.
SCOTT: So why are they doing it?
HALL: It is a good fight and he is entertaining. And the stories I've read says they did polling on Rush and they found his negatives are high, especially among younger voters and Independents. If they can make him the face of the party the way Michael Moore was tried to be made the face of Democratic Party, bully for them. It is not good for the Republicans, I can say that.
SCOTT: Let's get the left view point.
POWERS: I think it is the same thing that conservatives do when they try to say that Michael Moore is the chairman of the DNC or Sean Penn or whoever it is, the Hollywood people, whoever they think is going to most alienate the average American. I think Rush Limbaugh, when he says these things about wanting Obama to fail, not just he wants the agenda to fail, he wants Obama to fail.
LOWRY: No, that's not what it is. That's not what it is.
LOWRY: He wants the agenda to fail.
POWERS: He just said it right there. He said I want him to fail.
LOWERY: He wants the agenda to fail. He wants Obama to fail in passing his agenda.
POWERS: It is not the kind of thing that Americans want to hear right now.
PINKERTON: Did the Democrats want Reaganomics to succeed in the 80s? The answer was of course not. They all said so at the time, although the media didn't make as much of a big deal about it as this.
What is interesting to me about this — and Peter Roth (ph), writing for the FOX Forum, asked this question, are taxpayer dollars being used when Rahm Emanuel has his — according to the Politico, has his morning conference call with James Carville and Paul Begala and a couple others here and there? What are they doing on that time? And is this a use of government resources to go after not only Rush Limbaugh, but also Jim Kramer and Rick Santelli and, as Jane said in the segment, maybe Paul Krugman.
LOWRY: No, but I thought we elected — I thought we elected this guy to change our politics and deal with the big problems. Instead, he's punting on the financial crisis and they're spending all their time with this stupid tactical dispute with the right.
HALL: It's a side show. It is an entertaining sideshow.
SCOTT: There is the belief among some conservatives that because of the dropping stock market and some of the other financial problems that the Obama administration is using Rush to distract people.
HALL: Yes. Somebody called him a piñata in chief. Absolutely.
SCOTT: You said, yes? You think that's true?
HALL: Absolutely. I mean they poll tested it. It's true.
POWERS: I'm sorry, didn't Rush Limbaugh talk for like an hour and a half on national television.
POWERS: I didn't think the Obama administration is doing anything Rush Limbaugh isn't doing. It doesn't take much time to...
HALL: He handed him the sword.
POWERS: They're spending very little time on this. It doesn't take very much time to just kind of — I mean...
PINERTON: Robert Gibbs, the press secretary, takes a poke at somebody in the media all the time now. Spiro Agnew did it from the right 40 years ago. And now the left is doing it. I think we have the problem of, if the economy isn't in the tank...
LOWRY: Of course, yes.
PINKERTON: ... while they're winning this tactical battle against the Republicans, in the long run, the Democrats are going to be the big losers.
SCOTT: You think it can backfire?
PINKERTON: It won't backfire. It is just irrelevant to the economy.
LOWRY: But they are trying to define Rush as out of bounds in a way - - his opinion is not respectable. And that's wrong. There's nothing ugly about what he does. He's informative and entertaining every single day for three hours.
HALL: He is ugly on occasion.
SCOTT: Let's talk about something else. The Obama — candidate Obama promised an open administration, and yet the vice president goes down to address this AFL/CIO convention in Miami Beach. It's closed to the press. We don't have any idea what he said. Is that fair?
POWERS: Reporters can find out what he said. They can talk to people who were in the room. I don't know that transparency means you have to open every meeting you have. There are a lot of people who have complained on the left about what they feel has been a lack of transparency throughout this short time that he's been in power.
PINKERTON: Here Obama is so eager to have transparency when it comes to John Yoo's memos about due process in the wake of 9/11 or Cheney's energy task force. Yet, they're quiet. They don't seem to mind at all to get left out of a meeting with the AFL/CIO.
POWERS: You think it is on the same level? A meeting with the AFL/CIO and memos on how he was going to torture people?
LOWRY: My understanding is that it's the AFL/CIO's policy that these executive sessions are closed to the press.
PINKERTON: Reporters have been saying, we want to know what is going on. One of the hottest pieces of legislation in 2009 will be card check, or the EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act, whatever you want to call it. I guarantee Biden and the union leaders were talking about that a lot.
LOWRY: The Obama people like nothing more than to have every Biden event closed to the press.
Ongoing, closed on the vice president.
SCOTT: There is that.
I should get us back to this Rush Limbaugh question because I sort of dropped the whole issue of the battle that even Rush seems to be having with Michael Steele, the new chairman of the Republican Party. Whose mistake is it the way the two of them got into a tiff?
HALL: You know, Michael Steele was brought in because he was considered to be good on television and a former talk show host, I believe. And he has not done very well. He let someone on CNN say that the convention looked like a Nazi rally, didn't contradict that. he into a fight with Rush Limbaugh. And then he's made — a lot of people mocked him because it took him — how long did it take to apologize? Not long?
SCOTT: Does he need a little media work?
LOWRY: He's a very winsome personality. But he fell into the stupid trap with Rush, that watching that interview is painful. He's actually nodding when the host is calling Republicans Nazis. So I think Rush's advice was sound, he should concentrate on the mechanics of his job in organizing the Republican Party.
SCOTT: We're going to take another break. First though, we would like your help. Story ideas are always welcome here, especially if you come across good examples of media bias. E-mail us at newswatch@FOXnews.com.
We'll be back with this.
ANNOUNCER: A global warming march hits the icy streets in Washington. Did the media let them slide? And has the news media's cheerleading for president Obama hit a new low? That's next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Did you see this? "Radical Islam, a fact of life. Now live with it." That's this week's cover, the how to sort of thing, from Newsweek magazine.
Jane, what about it? Some people suggest that they are saying we just have to cozy up to terrorists?
HALL: I think they were trying to be provocative. And I think the headline is pretty disturbing because it was appeasement of terrorism. If you read the piece it says this worked for us in Iraq, this is a factor. I mean, as a woman, I find a culture that throws acid in the faces of girls going to school, is one I do think we need to separate take a stance on. What else we need to do, we've got to figure out
SCOTT: So a little shocking headline is good for selling news magazine?
PINKERTON: They think so. And Newsweek's decline continues, so it is probably not going to stop the dissipation of the weekly magazine format the way Newsweek does it.
But I think that the larger issue — and Fareed Zakaria, the author of the piece, was right to say, look, there's over a billion Muslims in the world and plenty of them don't like us and that's bad news. There's not a lot we can do about it. What we can control is how many of them live here in the United States and how many of them can immigrate here so on. And are we going to take adequate security precautions to keep them from doing to America what they've been doing for years in Western Europe.
SCOTT: There was another interesting story this week Eric Shawn had it, about major textbook publishers in this country that are putting out textbooks that suggest Christians are, in many ways, worse than some of these radical fringe religions.
LOWRY: The last thing I would do if I had children and I wanted them to learn anything reasonable about history is have them read a school textbook.
It is — the multicultural orthodoxy has a hammer lock on these textbooks. You will learn very few good things about Western civilization and you will learn lots of false good thins about other civilizations in my mind.
SCOTT: Is Christianity worse than radical Islam?
POWERS: That's what Rosie says. That's what Rosie O'Donnell famously said.
SCOTT: Let's take a look at another story we've been covering this week, a very noisy one.
SCOTT: On one of the coldest snowiest days of the year, global warming protesters marched on Washington this week trying to spread their message on coal power.
Neil Cavuto took the opportunity to talk with one of the organizers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEEN BIEL, GREENPEACE USA: Well, temperatures are getting warm. If somebody is telling you that's not true, they are just not looking at the data right. But temperatures are on average getting warmer. You can't single out one snow storm and say that doesn't mean global warming is happening. It is happening.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX HOST: All I'm saying for marketing purposes, Steve, wait until it is warm to have this protest. I'm just saying, to sell it on people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Is that typical, Jim, of the kind of debate we've seen about global warming?
PINKERTON: You notice now is the green left no longer talk about global warming. they prefer to talk about climate change. Because then anything that happens, they can say, see, that proves our theory. This is the biggest hoax of our lifetime going on. The fact that it snows in the middle of their stupid protest is proof there is a god.
SCOTT: I think Jane has something to say about that.
HALL: I don't think that is provably true. And I think that most people, including President Bush, have acknowledged this is an issue. And I think a lot of journalists, for years, had to get both sides because we always get both sides. I think it's fairly settled.
SCOTT: Are they getting both sides? Are they getting both sides, Kirsten?
POWERS: Well, look, I'm sorry to disagree, but I think it is a real problem in the world and I don't know there are two sides to it. Just because there are people who disagree with it, does not mean there are two sides to a situation. I think most people believe that global warming is a real issue.
LOWRY: There are two sides. There are two sides about whether it is happening or not. There are certainly two sides about the extent and danger of it.
POWERS: Yes, there is, but that's different. That's different.
LOWRY: There's a huge spectrum of opinion here.
POWERS: But there's no two sides about whether or not it's happening.
PINKERTON: Oh, yes, there is.
PINKERTON: OK, two sides, Betty Phizer (ph), at Liverpool John Moore University and the Heartland Institute is having a conference in New York City this week.
SCOTT: All right. Some stories caught in the Web this week. Politico.com says reporters are busy writing glowing profiles of members of the Obama administration. The site reports the flattering reporting, known as the Beat Sweetener, is alive and well. What looks like a regular news story is a way to develop good sources for the next four years. It looks like flattery will get you everywhere, even in a change administration.
Now for our next story, also at the White House. ABC White House Correspondent Jake Tapper caught the attention of the Media Research Center in their Tuesday cyber alert. The Washington Post reports Tapper believes Obama's "attractive qualities have prompted some editors and producers to root for him." Some, or most or almost all, asks the MRC? Well, at least somebody is asking that question.
It is time for a break. We'll be back with this.
ANNOUNCER: Twitter me this. What does Jon Stewart think of a new TV fad?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, "DAILY SHOW" HOST: Twitter!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Have you noticed that some people in the media have found a new toy? It is the social networking tool known as Twitter. Some of our colleagues can't get enough of it. Used wisely, it can be fun and it allows viewers to interact. We like that!
Twitter allows us to give you a glimpse of all the action behind the scenes, just like ABC's Terry Moran displayed recently: "Onboard Air Force One, pancakes, bacon and eggs on the menu. Twix and Snickers for snacks." There is some useful information.
Twittering has also caught the attention of an old gray lady. It's tempting to dismiss Twitter fever as a passing thing. But it's beginning to look more like another gateway drug to full-blown media narcissism. Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times.
Even "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart had to weigh in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: There's a hot new trend sweeping the nation. And the media can't get enough.
UNIDENTIFIED SHOW HOST: Boom. Let's go first to Twitter board if we possibly can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:Do you Twitter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:On my Twitter page...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:They're talking about Twitter...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:Keep Twittering us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:I'll be Tweetering through the program.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:Time to go between the Tweet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:Here a Tweet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:There a Tweet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:Twittering and Tweeting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:We have a Tweet on Twitter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:Twitter time.
STEWART: Yeah, let's Tweet this (EXPLETED DELETED) twotters twine their twinks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: We don't want to say anything, but this week, it was also reported the queen is going to begin Twittering. Of course, she is limited to 140 characters, like all of the rest of us.
LOWRY: I'm sitting on set with Jon Scott. I'm on set with Jon Scott.
SCOTT: Bored to tears.
SCOTT: That's going to do it for us this week.
Thanks to Jane Hall, Jim Pinkerton, Rich Lowry, who might come back, and Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for joining us for FOX "News Watch." Keep it here on the FOX News channel. The "FOX Report" is up next. And we will be back next week.
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