This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," June 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: On FOX "News Watch," Barack Obama tries to make a pact with Muslims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Did the president's big speech get applause from the press?
Two murders make news. Which got more attention?
Has the press already approved Judge Sonia?
Moore is joyous over GM's failure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: This is a chance now to correct what General Motors did wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Media go gaga over glamorous first couple.
On our panel this week, Marisa Guthrie, programming editor for Broadcasting and Cable magazine; syndicated columnist, Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New America Foundation, and "FOX Forum" contributor; and writer and "FOX News" contributor, Judith Miller.
I'm Jon Scott. FOX "News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The attacks of September 11, 2001, and the continued efforts of extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam inevitably hostile not only to America and western countries but also to human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's President Obama in Cairo on Thursday where his speech to the Muslim world got rave reviews on the evening newscasts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE CURIC, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: In an extraordinary address in Cairo today, the president called for a new beginning.
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: He delivered it in a polished way, a kind of smooth way.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This was a transformational speech.
UNIDENTIFIED HOST: Do they feel it went well?
JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEW CORRESPONDENT: They do feel it went well.
SCOTT: Extraordinary, polished, transformational — Cal, I'm sure you are surprised the president got such reviews.
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Oh, yes. Totally in the tank, Jon. This is the kind of approach you would expect from a rock concert, not from journalist doing their job.
I'm embarrassed to say I'm a journalist after watching some of this stuff. Whatever happened to, if your mother says she loves you, check it out! They've looked at the polls. They've decided this guy is popular with over 65 percent of the American people and they are not going to question anything he says. You know what that is? That is cult-like mentality. They are treating this guy as if he were a cult leader, and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.
SCOTT: Marisa, President Bush used to make many of the same kinds of statements, saying, you know, a few zealots had hijacked a peaceful religion of Islam. Why is Barack Obama getting this coverage if the previous president held many of the same views?
MARISA GUTHRIE, PROGRAMMING EDITOR, BROADCASTING AND CABLE: the previous president also read from the Qur'an. I think there's been a — the mainstream media has certainly been — has not picked apart the speech but the blogs have certainly. Egyptian bloggers have been unhappy with the speech, and some in the pro-Israel camp. He opened the speech with "as-salaam alaikum," which to them was very polarizing.
SCOTT: So why is he getting these rave reviews, Jim.
JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION & "FOX FORUM" CONTRIBUTOR: I think Cal is right, they all like him. And most, if they would admit it, voted for him. But I will make an effort to pluck out one of those journalists on that segment you had and that is Jake Tapper, of ABC News, who put on a post on the Web site saying Obama is letting his Muslim roots show.
And in fact, in the speech, Obama said, I can remember the prayer to call — calls to prayer when I was a child and so on, which was something that wasn't heard much during the campaign. And Jake Tapper has caught holy you know what, from liberals, who are saying, don't out the guy just yet. We need to keep this under wraps. He's got to get reelected.
For the rest of us, I think it is a moment like at the end of the movie "The Sixth Sense" when you flashback and say, oh, so when Obama was saying Muslim this, Muslim this, maybe there was a pattern there we didn't see it until the end.
SCOTT: Judy, based on that Jake Tapper report, the campaign did try to diminish his Muslim connections, at least during his childhood.
JUDITH MILLER, WRITER AND FOX NEWS CONTIRBUTOR: Absolutely. And also even when two women in a hijab, which Obama mispronounced in his speech, which no one pointed out in the media — the ones that wear the head scarf, they were banished from the picture by the campaign, which then had to apologize.
Look, he gives a masterful speech. Can we now all acknowledge that? He gives a great speech. He reads the teleprompter well. It was a thoughtful speech. He was working on it until the end. You can see that from the way in which the paragraph was of different type in the White House press announcement. I think there was a great deal of interesting coverage of this speech but it tended not to be on the network news. It tended to be blogs, in the Egyptian press and even in the kind of Middle Eastern press, that is the experts, who are looking at the speech and taking it apart and looking for that rarest of all things, policy.
SCOTT: That may be why network news is a dying animal.
Before the big trip, we learned how much the press loves our new president. A new study from the Pew Research Center examined more than 1200 stories during the first months of the Obama presidency in various newspapers and media outlets. Here's what they found. Positive stories about President Obama have outweighed the negative, 42 percent of them favorable. That is much higher than President Bush received during his early days in office. He got about 22 percent favorable coverage. President Clinton only saw 27 percent favorable coverage.
Marisa, what is going on?
GUTHRIE: A couple of factors there. First of all, I don't think you can discount race, this historic, you know, milestone for the country. And it lets everyone feel good about electing an African-American president.
But also, I think, you know, the country is at an extraordinary point. There are a ton of problems. Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, you probably want some of this guy's policies to succeed. That's slightly different than the last one.
SCOTT: Cal, even George Bush said it was great thing that we elected an African-American president.
THOMAS: Yeah, well, it is not about externals, it is about internals. Speaking of Bush, when the debt was $450 billion, which it was a year or so ago, this was terrible. Your children and grandchildren, editorials said in major newspapers all over the country, will suffer for this. Now it is approaching $12 trillion and you don't hear a peep from the media on this. The same with the carmakers. They're going out of business. The $50 billion that went to save them is going down the tube as G.M. filed bankruptcy. Is the media pointing this out? Of course not, they are totally in the tank, the gas tank for G.M. and the administration.
PINERKTON: There are some who think that the 42 percent puppy coverage is too low.
E.J. Dionne, of the Washington Post says, why is the media letting themselves get pushed to the right by the evil Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich? So the left has a good strategy of saying, oh, the media are too conservative.
SCOTT: Yes, even Bill Clinton didn't get coverage like this. And he was very popular his first months in office.
MILLER: He was very popular, but this president is a true celebrity. And we all know there are different standards for celebrities. The criticism of Obama is coming not only from the extreme right but also from the left wing of his own party. Watch that, because I think he's going to have a lot of trouble with that part of his party.
SCOTT: Worth noting that Forbes magazine trotted out its list of the 100 most powerful celebrities this week, and the president was on it, first time for a president.
Time for a break, first though, if you want to hear what we are talking about during the commercial, go to FOXnews.com/FOXnewswatch.
We'll be back in two minutes to talk about two murders in one week and the different kinds of coverage they got.
ANNUONCER: Murders in the news, a controversial abortion doctor, a 23-year-old soldier. Did the press fail the balance test in coverage?
Filmmaker Michael Moore is filled with joy over GM's failure and offers advice to the president. Details next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Two murders receive national attention this week and the comparison of the amount of coverage caught our attention. Sunday, abortion doctor, George Tiller, was gunned down at his church in Kansas, one of only a few doctors who performed late-term abortions, a lightning rod of controversy. A 51-year-old man, being held in custody, is believed to have acted alone in that killing. On Monday, two U.S. soldiers on duty at a military recruiting center in Arkansas were shot. 23-year-old Private William Long was killed in that shooting. The suspect, a Muslim convert, reportedly admitted shooting Long and another soldier, quote, "because of what they had done to Muslims in the past."
Which story got more attention? Take a look at one example. Dr. Tiller's murder made front-page news in the New York Times. The story of the murder of Private Long was placed on page 16.
Jim, what is going on there? Should we be surprised?
PINKERTON: No, we shouldn't be surprised. The liberal media have a template that the right to life movement is potentially dangerous to the abortion doctors. And in fact, in fairness, Dr. Tiller was shot some number of years ago and injured. And they aren't interested, at least not yet, in stories about domestic terrorism. This is not just this young man in Arkansas who shot and killed this soldier. He had been to Yemen. The media can't quite process what would get a guy from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Yemen and back again. Who did he talk to? Who paid for it? Who else is he dealing with? And so far, at least, they just aren't interested.
SCOTT: If this had been a random street shooting, would it be different? The fact that he's a Muslim convert, does that deserve press attention?
MILLER: Of course, it does. FOX News has been reporting on the background of this man, the Yemen trip, the fact that he attended a mosque with four others people who had brushes with Muslim fundamental. There is so much more reporting that needs to be done. But I do think that the murder of George Tiller was legitimately, as is the murder of the soldiers, both important stories. But George Tiller was singled out. He was identified as somebody who did this. He was made into a target. And I think that's what preoccupied the press.
SCOTT: You can also argue that the soldiers were shot because they were wearing U.S. Army uniforms.
MARISA: You can, but Judith is right. There is really not another issue that is so polarizing in this country as abortion. The fact that Dr. Tiller had been singled out, he has been shot before, gave the media a perfect narrative for the story.
THOMAS: The media has done a total cover-up on what happens in these abortion clinics. 50 million babies killed since Roe vs. Wade in 1973. The media covers only those things that are of interest to them and advance their agenda. Muslim terrorists in America? They are trying to get Guantanamo Bay closed down and are afraid of what will happen if terrorist move back into the United States, as is every member of Congress. So they under cover that. It's an incredible double standard.
I remember in 1963, of course, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The press tried to play down the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald went to Moscow and spent time there, because they were trying to bring peace between the United States and the Soviet Union.
So, Jim is right. It's the template through which these stories are brought.
SCOTT: Jim, I was surprised in reading about Dr. Tiller that he was one of those who would do abortions as late as nine months, I read. I couldn't believe anybody would be doing that.
PINKERTON: You have to be a member of NARAL to get excited about what a great guy Dr. Tiller was. I guarantee there will be a college scholarship in honor of him and so on and so on and so on. But — and I agree with Marisa when she says the narrative, the polarization — abortion has been perhaps the most polarizing issue in the United States. Something tells me that Muslim terrorism here and abroad is going to over take abortion as the hot button issue of hot button issues.
SCOTT: All right.
Time for another break. We would like your help. Story ideas always welcome here, especially if you come across a story that you think displays media bias. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'll be back with this
ANNOUNCER: A Supreme Court hopeful on a meet-and-greet tour on Capitol Hill. Have her critics in the press softened on Sonia?
Hurricane season is here and so is a new way to track the deadly storm. All next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Supreme Court justice nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, engaging in meet-and-greets on Capitol Hill this week. As she made her rounds, it appeared some critics have toned down their accusations of racism on her part but not all think that issue should be dismissed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: A racist is a racist! You know, they may think, Sean, is too shrill to say. They may wish I would tone it down. But nobody has refuted the charge. Nobody has said, no, she is not a racist. In fact, the White House has said, if she can do it again, she would say it differently. They want a do over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: There's Rush Limbaugh talking to Sean Hannity the other night about claims that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a racist. Racist is an incendiary topic. Obviously, you want to judge who is fair. What about the coverage that issue is receiving?
THOMAS: It is double standard, as usual. Rush is absolutely right, as usual. I went back and looked at some of the Republican nominees. Richard Nixon nominated two justices to the Supreme Court, named Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell. Many Democrats denounced both of them as racist, one because he belonged to an all-white country club. That was enough for him. It depends on whose ox is being gored. A racist is a racist. If you think you are superior because of your race or gender, if that isn't racist, what is?
SCOTT: Oh, Judy is waiting to chime in, but we've got to get to Jim first.
PINKERTON: There's a blog called Sweetness and Light that I actually saw on the "FOX Forum" that made the point, if you simply swap out the word "Latina" every time Sotomayor said Latina woman — it turns out she said it many, many times, not just once — put in "white," a wise white woman would do this, a wise white woman would do that, she would be toast before now.
SCOTT: All right, Judy.
MILLER: Women are just wiser.
SCOTT: I think that's why you wanted to jump in here.
MILLER: No, but really. Even Newt Gingrich backed off of this charge because he understood that it wasn't cutting, that it was backfiring, that is was going nowhere.
I think that some of the most interesting, the reporting that's been done on this was done by Nina Totenberg who, on NPR, noted that even though Obama had portrayed her remark about experience being so important and Latina being so important that this was — if she had it to do over, she would do it over, Nina Totenberg pointed out that, having read all of her statements and speeches and opinions, that actually, she had said it three times. So it wasn't just a slip of the tongue. It's reporting like that that I would like to see rather than charges like racism.
SCOTT: Well, speaking of do-overs, Newt Gingrich did have a bit of a do-over. He said — he was one of those who had been calling Sotomayor a racist. But he took it back on Wednesday saying, "My initial reaction was strong and direct — perhaps too strong and too direct. The sentiment struck me as racist and I said so."
Is that going to happen, I think, to more of the — more of the coverage, more of the people who have been making that charge? Is that an issue that is going to go away?
GUTHRIE: Well, I think Judith is right. The coverage did backfire. Rush Limbaugh also is calling her angry. And I'm sorry, but for Rush Limbaugh to call anyone angry is a rather humor projections, I think.
SCOTT: She was angry when the Red Sox beat the Yankees, that's for sure.
Other news making headlines this week, the G.M. bankruptcy mess. President Obama addressed the situation on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And our government will making a significant additional investment of about $30 billion in G.M., an investment that will entitle American taxpayers to ownership of about 60 percent of the new G.M.
FRITZ HENDERSON, CEO, GENERAL MOTORS: The new G.M. will have a significantly stronger and healthier balance sheet, which will allow us to better support our brands and products through investment, increase our investment in new technology and be able to weather difficult times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Good news America, you own 60 percent of a car company!
The president is making this out like it's a very good thing, is it?
PINKERTON: Everything is investment. They all know what they are doing. Then the New York Times reports that the fellow actually doing all the work in the White House is 31-years-old. His name Brian Deese, never set foot in auto factory in his life, but is almost graduated from Yale Law School.
SCOTT: That fills you full of hope.
THOMAS: I want the owner's discount.
The fact is, the media has not held the Obama administration accountable. $50 billion initially was going to save it. Now we need another $30 billion. Oh, the government doesn't want to own any car company, yet they do own the car company. The government is not going to mandate what kind of cars to make, yet they are going to mandate what kind of cars to make, the hybrids, the green cars. Where is the doubt in the media? Where are editorials pointing out inconsistencies?
SCOTT: And Bruce Rattner, the point man on the president's...
PINKERTON: Steve Rattner.
SCOTT: Steve Rattner, yeah, former New York Times reporter.
MILLER: Former New York Times. In fact, we shared the Chrysler bailout story a long time ago in that bureau.
SCOTT: So he knows how to run a car company.
MILLER: He knows how to run a car company.
Look, I just can't believe that the media aren't pointing out that this administration is having it both ways. On one hand, we, the public, own 60 percent of this company. On the other, hand, we, the public, we, the government, are not going to tell them how to make a car that works. You have the worst of all possible worlds.
SCOTT: It is going to be interesting to see what rolls off the assembly lines.
Time now for our "Caught in the Web" segment.
Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore is in favor of General Motors going bankrupt. He says the only way to save the company is to kill it.
Moore offered suggestion on his Web site for President Obama and the remake of G.M. Here's a sample. "Announce that we will have bullet trains criss-crossing this country in the next five years."
Moore also suggests that the car manufacturing plants be turned into mass transit systems.
According to MediaBistro.com, NBC weatherman, Al Roker, left the set of the "Today" show early to head to court for jury duty. He took his iPhone. He was tweeting the whole time. Well, that's where it went south. Roker apparently took photos of potential jurors in the courtroom and posted them on his Twitter page. Other Web sites got a hold of them and posted the photos. Roker tweeted — this is a test here.
"I'm not breaking laws, just trying to share the experience of jury duty. One that I think is important and everyone should take part in."
And now that the 2009 hurricane season has officially begun, stormpulse.com is up and running. The Web site, for all of you storm chasers, allows you to track a hurricane as it is happening. You can trace the path, the location and intensity in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
We have to take one more break. When we come back...
ANNOUNCER: Obama and the misses take Manhattan. The first couple's date night and the media reaction, next on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Just before his big trip overseas, the president made good on a campaign promise to his biggest supporter, his wife, Michelle. He flew her off to New York City to enjoy a romantic dinner and a Broadway show. Barack and the misses caught the attention of the swooning press and late night comedians, like Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show," another victim of Obama infatuation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Why are they so beautiful?
I will say this. They are insanely glamorous, the romance, the charisma. If only there was a way for the rest of us to experience just a little.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Desire, glamour, passion, oh, a dove. Isn't it time you showed her you're the most powerful man in the world, POTUS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That is a wrap on "News Watch" this week.
Thanks to Marisa, Jim, Cal and Judy.
I'm Jon Scott. See you next week.
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