Transcript: 'FOX News Watch,' April 25, 2009

This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," April 25, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: On FOX "New Watch," the fight over terror tactics makes headlines as Dick Cheney challenges President Obama to tell the whole story.

As coverage heats up, is the president feeling pressured? Day 100 is fast approaching. How will the press grade his efforts?


ANNOUNCER: First runner up is California.


SCOTT: Did a loaded question on gay marriage cost Miss California the crown? And is the press piling on?

Plus, the new Homeland Security chief gets confused about our neighbors to the north.

And who should get the starring role in a new film about election '08?

On the panel this week, Marisa Guthrie, programming editor for Broadcasting and Cable magazine, celebrating 25 years of syndication in more newspapers than any other columnist in the country, Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New American Foundation and "FOX Forum" contributor; and writer and FOX News contributor, Judith Miller.

I'm Jon Scott. FOX "News Watch" is on right now.

President Obama at CIA headquarters this week, explaining the release of Justice Department memos on interrogation methods, and suggesting that the people who ordered or devised those methods might not be in the clear.

Reaction to the release of this information has been strong.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've now formerly asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was.


SCOTT: As the White House appears to want to move forward, the news media, hanging on to this and not likely to let go anytime soon.

Cal, you were talking about this on FOX on Friday. Did it seem to you that the president flip-flopped on the issue? And more importantly, did the press push him into it?

CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes and yes. Look, I think what we have here is two things. We're playing against ourselves. We're establishing rules for ourselves that our enemies don't have. And the other thing is that the media forget that 30-some years ago, we went through a similar process with intelligence in the Frank Church Committee that undermined the intelligence gathering operations of this country. And we've been paying a price for that for many years. It would be nice if the press went back and explored the danger of undermining our own intelligence gathering capabilities.

One final footnote, the New York Times this week — this is really funny — did an editorial in which it said, "Here is Dick Cheney, who was the most secretive vice president in years, all of a sudden, is for full disclosure." I thought that was cute.

SCOTT: Judy, the New York Times, your old stomping grounds, also had a headline this week. Let me quote it to you. "Waterboarding used 266 times on two suspects." Are they trying to use it — the "Times — are they trying to use that to hit back at the Bush administration?

JUDITH MILLER, WRITER AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, I think they're reporting the facts as they see them. What is very interesting here, you really see the Times going after former Vice President Cheney for what he's saying on the air. This is a battle over the truth that's being played out in the pages of newspapers, on airwaves. Everybody's trying to get his point of view across.

We have Ali Soufan, who was Abu Zubaydah's interrogator, in an op-ed page, basically saying it's not true, that Abu Zubaydah only gave us this information after he was tortured. I was his interrogator, he told me this. And then you have a rebuttal from a former administration official. This is a huge, huge fact, a huge fight in the press.

SCOTT: Should it be in the press?



I mean, look, I agree with Judy insofar as I think she was saying that the real target here, where much of the mainstream media and the Obama administration are going after, the real target is Dick Cheney. They hate him with a passion, both of them. And they want to get after them.

However, I think they've badly mishandled the optics of this thing. They — President Obama tried to say that the CIA operatives will be exculpated from possible retribution, while the political types, the Doug Feiths of the world who wrote these memos or supervised writing the memos, they would be inculpated. They're a little acute (ph). And I don't think the average American thinks, understands that distinction. So what the fear of the populous is, that they're just going to go after ordinary grunts, as it were, CIA agents, and that might be one reason why the White House lost its communication director this week, because they simply aren't handling these narrow distinctions very well.

Well, Marisa, vice president — former Vice President Cheney emerged from his secure location.


He was on Hannity this week. And you know, he's been pretty up front about all of this. Is that a good strategy for him, do you think, media- wise?

MARISA GUTHRIE, PROGRAMING EDITOR, BROADCASTING & CABLE: Well, I mean, what's he got to lose? Obama has made it clear that he doesn't want to open this can of worms. I mean, it would be a...

SCOTT: But he opened it, didn't he?

GUTHRIE: Well, he doesn't want to open the can of worms by prosecuting, but I don't think that they — I mean, obviously, they don't have their story straight because then you have Rahm Emanuel on this week saying the lawyers who devise the legality for the torture will not be prosecuted. And then you had Obama on back — they had to backpedal on that. So they don't know what they're talking about.

SCOTT: Judy, you're familiar with looking at, you know, formerly restrictive or probably even secret documents. I mean, was it wise of the president to take the wraps off some of these memos?

MILLER: I think Politico this week had an excellent piece that really dissected what is Obama's first huge miscalculation and misstep. He thought that he would satisfy his base by getting this stuff out. That's what Politico has reported. And then when it turned out that the base wasn't satisfied by that, but actually wanted scalps of the people who issued these memos, then, all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. And we were into the fray.

THOMAS: That's right. That's exactly right. And here's what's going to...

MILLER: He miscalculated.

THOMAS: Right. Here's what's going to happen next. There are going to be the congressional equivalent of show trials. Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers and George Soros and, who are behind this, are not going it settle for anything less than a public show trial of the Bush administration, covered by the media, live on many channels, front page of newspapers. It isn't over.

SCOTT: Well, and Jim Angle from our Washington bureau reported this week that Nancy Pelosi was briefed.


I mean, she's on the Intelligence Committee. She was briefed.


SCOTT: Well, on enhanced interrogation techniques.

PINKERTON: Exactly, I mean, if they really mean it and, you know, about disclosing everything, then there's a lot of chips are going to fall on lots of people's plates. And the chips won't be chips, if you know what I mean. I mean, this is — this is an unbelievable mess. But the Wall Street Journal put it well. April 21st was the day, red letter day when Obama declared war against the Bush administration. And the Bush people are fighting back. And now it's a rumble for the next — rest of his presidency.

SCOTT: We will be here to watch it for the next, let's see, two years — no, thee years and 265 days, thereabouts.


Time for a break.

First though, if you want to hear what we're talking about during the commercial break, check it out on our Web site,

We will be back in two minutes with this.

ANNOUNCER: President Obama nears 100 days in office. Will the press hand him a fair report card or a big high five? And a beauty queen stays true to her beliefs and takes heat for what she said. Details next, on "News Watch."



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...


SCOTT: Day one, Barack Obama sworn in as our 44th president back in January. Now, just days away from the 100-day mark.

All right, Jim, how are the media going to observe this 100th day?


PINKERTON: Well, I mean, as President Obama has the benefit, he's the first black president to anything. So it's always kind of exciting. Even people who don't like him are still kind of intrigued by him and his family and so on. But every now and then you have to apply some sort of metrics to get some grip on where we are. And Judith Klinghoffer, writing for the History News Network, made the point that Obama ranked 7th out of the last nine presidents in Gallop poll opinion ratings. So 7th out of nine is not so good.

THOMAS: Well, the full effects of his policies have not hit yet. We're still moving along on the crest of a wave. The wave has not crashed on the shore. The crash is coming with health care, and if this whole intelligence business we talked about in the last segment proves to be injurious to the United States and its interests around the world and at home. The full effect of inflation hasn't hit, with a lot of people predicting that inflation will come as a result of this enormous borrowing and the biggest debt we've ever had. So he's still riding the crest.

SCOTT: Marisa is champing at the bit.

I wanted to ask you, the White House seems to be down playing this 100-day celebration, if you want to call it that, and referring to it as a Hallmark holiday. Is it?

GUTHRIE: Well, yet, they were fast and furious for the first 100 days. I mean, for symbolic reasons, too. They're trying to downplay it. The media is comparing it to FDR's — what FDR did in the first 100 days and what Obama's doing in the first 100 days, so...

SCOTT: I remember when the 50-day mark came, there were criticisms, you know, of — we brought that up on TV that it was his 50th day in office and there was criticism that we were expecting too much.

MILLER: That's right. So this time the White House is getting ahead of the 100th-day Hallmark holiday. They're out there spinning, spinning, spinning. And Politico had an excellent article on all of the themes they were putting out. "He's a decider. He's not in the bubble. He is FDR. He's not FDR. He's the first this." I mean, they are not going to be behind the eight ball on this one.


PINKERTON: Although, again, sometimes a little skepticism is useful." The front page of the Washington Post last week was, "Obama Proposes a $100 Million Budget Cut." Now $100 million is a lot of money anywhere, but Washington, where in a $3.7 trillion budget, $100 million actually works out to .0028 percent. And the Heritage Foundation circulated a graphic showing how minuscule — it's Mercury to the sun in terms of the levels of spending cuts.

SCOTT: What about the so-called honeymoon? Did he get one? Has he had one during the first days?

MILLER: I think he's had an enormous honeymoon. But it's coming to a crashing conclusion with this interrogation torture mess that he started. And now you can see other stories start to bubble up.

I think really, Cal, at this point, this administration would be delighted to see signs of inflation, because the bad news, the bad economic news just keeps on coming. Now we also have some aspersions, some allegations and questions being raised about one of his chief economic advisors, the car czar, even though there's no indication that Steve Rattner has done anything wrong. Every story says that. It's cumulative. We're beginning to see a lot of criticism.

PINKERTON: Actually, "Talking Points Memo" said, about Steve Rattner, that he seems to have done exactly what Bill Richardson did. And that is not a small accusation. At "Talking Point Memo" at

THOMAS: Here is what The Huffington Post said about the hundred-day business. "A ritualistic gauge of White House success by D.C. pundits."


Look, we have enjoyed this. Look, we're talking about it today. And the president is going to do a news conference on his 100th day after pooh- poohing the whole thing.

SCOTT: There were questions about this president during the campaign. He was on the cover of magazines it seemed like every our minute. Now that he's actually in office, how do you think he's handled the press?

GUTHRIE: I think he's handled the press pretty well, actually. He's certainly had some missteps, but this is all this 100-day non-commemoration commemoration. It's all part of their media strategy and, I mean, all of his — the globe trotting, the town halls, I mean, that's all been planned to make him — to, you know — yes, he's been very busy. But it's also planned for perception as well.

THOMAS: The media like him because he holds positions that the media like. It's as simple as that. If you saw what — you saw what the media thought of George Bush, especially in the second term, well...

SCOTT: And in the first term, George Bush had a 60 percent approval rating after his first 100 days.

PINKERTON: and Bush 41 as well, who I worked for way back when. And Laura Bush had a higher rating than Michelle Obama?


SCOTT: Is that going to get mentioned in the press?

PINKERTON: You just wouldn't know it from reading the mainstream media.

GUTHRIE: No, there was a story — there was a New York Times op-ed written by one of the directors at the Pew Center, who said that Obama's ratings are mirroring George Bush's ratings in his second term.


PINKERTON: OK, but the mirroring applies the same, whereas actually lower is lower.


SCOTT: We are going to take another break.

But first, we need your help. Your story ideas always welcome, especially if you come across a story that you think shows media bias. E- mail us at

We will be back with this.

ANNUONCER: A Miss USA contestant gets smacked down by a judge with an agenda. Did the press pounce, too? And who would you pick to play Barack Obama in an HBO film. Answers next, on "News Watch."



PEREZ HILTON, QUESTIONER: Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?

MISS USA: Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage. And now what, in my country, and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised. And that's how I think that it should be, between a man and a woman. Thank you.


SCOTT: Well, there it is, the question and the answer that sparked a backlash from one of the judges, a proponent of gay marriage who goes by the assumed name, Perez Hilton.

Some of us have never had the pleasure of actually reading his work. But I am told that he supposed to be some kind of celebrity blogger and gossip columnist.



HILTON: I was the YouTube moment of the show, the pageant, when I asked Miss California her question. And when she gave the worst answer in pageant history, she got booed. I think that was the first time in Miss USA ever that a contestant has been booed.

Now, let me explain to you, she lost not because she doesn't believe in gay marriage. Miss California lost because she's a dumb (EXPLETIVE DELETED).



SCOTT: Yeah, there you go.

All right, Marisa.

GUTHRIE: Well...

SCOTT: Thank goodness for the bleep button there. She's now the most famous runner up of all time.

GUTHRIE: It the best thing that ever happened to her, I mean, she's on "The Today Show." She's all over the news. I do think it's utterly lamentable that this story has evaluated something so anachronistic and sexist as a beauty pageant.

SCOTT: Curious, too, Cal, he said she got booed. It sounded to me like she got more cheers than she got...


THOMAS: Right. Maybe three people. Look, here is all you need to know. Let's reverse the polarity here. Let's say that this guy, Perez Hilton, was a traditional married evangelical Christian judge, and the woman he was asking was a lesbian. You know the media reaction would have been to that. This is a joke. It was a complete setup. But, Marisa is right. She gets to play the victim and a good looking one, at that, and the combination in America is unbeatable.

PINKERTON: And a smart one. I thought she was very articulate.


PINKERTON: She did a good job in her interviews. But I have to...

GUTHRIE: Whatever happened to marriage? What is opposite? Wash is opposite — articulate? OK.


MILLER: She's a beauty pageant contestant. And she's pro choice.


PINKERTON: I just want to say this. What is it about this subculture of the people who run these beauty contests if somebody like Perez Hilton, who is not exactly interested in the topic at hand, shall we say, would get to be a judge?

GUTHRIE: Well, come on, it's the Miss USA Pageant, OK? But the gay bloggers are aghast at his behavior, because they're making her look good. So, I mean, that's another narrative that's come out of this.

SCOTT: Well, Donald Trump owns it. You know it's going to be in the media.

All right, from outrageous to outrage, directed at Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, taking heat last week for a report her office issued. It said U.S. military vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are potential right wing extremists. Then this week, the secretary kicked up controversy again, saying our northern border is a terrorist gateway.


JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: To the extent that terrorists have come in to our country, or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it's been across the Canadian border. There are...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you talking about the 9/11 perpetrators?

NAPOLITANO: Not just those, but others as well.


SCOTT: All right, Marisa, talking about a beauty pageant queen misspeaking, she's in charge of our nation's security.


GUTHRIE: I know, it's outrageous. It makes me wonder what she knows and doesn't know. I mean, the Canadians, you know, they've taken a lot of flak from us in this country. They — aren't they the only ones fighting with us in Afghanistan? I think what she said was outrageous.

MILLER: No, I think what she said was a mistake, which she quickly corrected. She said she did not mean to imply that the 9/11 people had come across the border, but other people have.


MILLER: Like Ahmed Ressam. And the media have not pointed out something that's very, very obvious, which is that border has been a problem.

THOMAS: It is.

MILLER: It's a problem. Mike Sheehan, in his book, "Crush the Cell," pointed that out. I think, on this one, she's taking heat for the wrong thing.

SCOTT: But is she the new Joe Biden of this administration?

PINKERTON: She's got to be a little more careful, but what the most important thing on development was FOX News filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to uncover all the documents, all the processes and working papers and so on, concerning that horrific report that smeared our veterans.

SCOTT: And this is the Department of Homeland Security, after all. After a while, do the gaffes begin to affect the way people think about the competency of everybody who works there?

THOMAS: Possibly. But not as rapidly as they did for a Dan Quayle or a George Bush 41 or 43. It's different when it comes to the media. But I think she's out of her element here. I've interviewed Napolitano when she was governor of Arizona. Very articulate and worked well with Republicans. I think she's saying some things that she's been forced to say and doesn't really believe.

SCOTT: Now, "Caught in the Web" this week, FOX News and MySpace team up to give you a chance to report for us. The new project gives you reporters from MySpace a chance to upload images and video, allowing MySpace users the ability to share their citizen journalist-produced content with the MySpace community and a chance to be featured on FOX News and

Craigslist, a popular Web site listing classifieds for goods, services and even romance, is now connected to a murder. A guy named Phillip Markoff, accused of robbing women who advertised erotic services on the Web site. He's accused of killing one of them. He's now termed the Craigslist murder. The site's CEO has a warning for would-be criminals, saying, "The site is an extremely unsafe venue for criminal activity because you're virtually guaranteeing you're going to get caught. This is an electronic trail leading to yourself. So don't use Craigslist for crime, unless you want to go to jail."

Are bloggers journalists? That's the question before a New Jersey Superior Court. And the answer could affect Internet free speech? Blogger Shellee Hale reported security flaws at Too Much Media, a company which helps porn sites track sales. Too Much Media claims defamation. Hales is not revealing her sources and claims protection as a journalist. The judge wants a month to make a ruling.

We have to take one more break. When we come back...

ANNOUNCER: What actors are in line to play the key roles in a film about the '08 election? Find out next, on "News Watch."


SCOTT: Just when you thought the '08 election was over, HBO wants to bring it back as a movie. All the political characters to be played by Hollywood characters. The writer of the movie "Blood Diamonds" will pen the screenplay. He says, "It is funny to call Obama and Hillary characters but that's how I have to look at them." So that got us thinking. Who will play Barack Obama? Will Smith is one name being mentioned. Who might play Hillary? Maybe Julianne Moore? She's already staring in another HBO movie about Bill and Hillary Clinton. The Web site TV squad says Tina Fey must play Sarah Palin. As for her running mate, John McCain, the site says it agrees with a suggestion made by his wife, Actor Robert Duvall. The big question here is who will play campaign Carl?

Stay tuned. That's a wrap.

Thanks to Marisa Guthrie, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Judy Miller.

I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for watching. We'll see you back here next week.

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