Published June 15, 2009
This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," June 13, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: On FOX "News Watch," Governor Sarah Palin takes another shot from the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT": One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankees game, during the 7th inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Looking for a leader. Is the press out to help or hurt the GOP?
Getting your news, what does the future hold?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUPERT MURDOCH, CHAIRMAN & CEO, NEWS CORP: It's going to be digital. Within ten years, I believe, nearly all newspapers will be delivered to you digitally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Has the White House made news reporters obsolete?
A deadly racist's rage gives liberals a chance to attack the right.
And our soldiers in Iraq get some late night attention.
On the panel this week, Jane Hall of the American University; Bill Sammon, managing editor of the FOX Washington bureau; Jim Pinkerton, New America Foundation fellow and "FOX Forum" contributor; and columnist and FOX News analyst, Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott. FOX "News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
One awkward moment though, during the game — maybe you heard about it. Maybe you saw it on one of the highlight reels. One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the 7th inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: "Late Night's" David Letterman taking a swipe this week at Sarah Palin and one of her daughter's. Alaska's governor didn't think there was anything funny about the joke. And she has not been shy about demanding Letterman apologize.
The debate over Letterman's joke spilled on to "The View" as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": You can say anything you want about me, we all say this, don't talk about my child. And that is something that I guess, even humorous, you have to understand...
JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": But, Barbara, you don't parade your child out. It doesn't matter.
BEHAR: Don't talk...
BEHAR: They traipse the kid out. She's a walking punch line.
BEHAR: And then she gets knocked up, that's the joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: You saw the clips from Letterman, Kirsten, you saw the ladies from "The View" discussing it. Howard Kurtz, the media writer, took a position this week. Is this thing going to become — have the media taken sides?
KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, everybody takes the typical sides, which is the liberals seem to take the side of David Letterman and the conservatives take the side of Sarah Palin.
SCOTT: And the Liberals think it's funny.
POWERS: And some liberals say you shouldn't have said it, but I don't think they're outraged by it. I don't understand why so many liberals might hear this all the time, think that she paraded her daughter out. I do not understand that. She has a family, OK? I'm not a Sarah Palin fan, but she has a family, and the family went to events with her. That's not parading your family around. Everybody does it. Chelsea Clinton was everywhere Hillary was when she was speaking. It's a strange thing they see this girl deserves to be attacked because she went and hear her mother speak.
SCOTT: She's not a vice-president candidate anymore, Jane. Why is she still a media punching bag?
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: There's sexism and there's also — I don't know what you call it. Leering attitudes toward young girls. Letterman's apology was, gee, I didn't know it was the 14-year-old daughter, I thought it was the 18-year-old daughter. Big deal. If you have children — it's not just about privacy for children. I mean, I agree with Kirsten and I gather that the National Organization for Women has finally come out and said this is bad. They were quick to criticize. They never defended people on the other side. This is really bad and he should apologize for it.
BILL SAMMON, MANAGING EDITOR, FOX WASHINGTON BUREAU: This is not about sexism. This is about Sarah Palin being a conservative who makes the left's head explode. She just drives them batty. And I call it Sarah Palin Derangement Syndrome. We've been witnessing it for months. Here is a woman, at the bottom of the ticket. She was vanquished, sent back to Alaska six time zones away. You would think we would never hear about her again. The press can't let go of her because, on some fundamental level, she represents a threat, at least in part. Secondly, they feel just a desire to destroy her so she can't run in 2012. It's bizarre the fixation with Sarah Palin.
SCOTT: It's one thing to take on Sarah Palin but even Barbara Walters said don't pick on the kids.
JIM PINKERTON, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION FELLOW & "FOX FORUM" CONTRIBUTOR: Right. For the most part, the left has been quiet about this. The only — let me just say this, David Letterman is a dirty old man. And he would not have his job today if he had made the identical jokes about Michelle Obama and President and Mrs. Obama's children. He'd be gone by now. And it's Don Server, writing for the Daily Mail, in West Virginia, who put his finger on what Bill was getting at, which is the left has targeted Katherine Harris and Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, a long list of conservative females because they don't fit the template the liberals have, which is all women have to be Democrats.
SCOTT: Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich appeared Monday night on the Congressional Republican fundraiser in Washington. Gingrich was the headliner. The media didn't focus on the speech. They had a different focus.
Take a look how USA Today saw it, who speaks for the GOP? Well, what's the answer to that question, Bill?
SAMMON: Well, the answer to the question is every time — the answer to the question is both the Republicans and Democrats have a variety of voices within their parties. The Democrats have people like James Carville, a nice guy, but a bomb thrower. He's kind of out there. The — and the Republicans have people like Newt Gingrich, who is very provocative. Anytime someone on the Republican side says something provocative, the media jumps up and says, why don't the Republicans put that person up as their spokesman?
But on the other hand, when Roland Burris, a Democrat, gives a disastrous press conference, or Nancy Pelosi, you don't see a story the next day...
SAMMON: ... that says why are they putting Nancy Pelosi up as the spokesperson. Why are they putting Roland Burris? This is a complete double standard by the press.
SCOTT: You have a different view, Jane.
HALL: I have a different view. It is a legitimate concern among Republicans who speaks for the Republican Party. The Democrats have Barack Obama and a few other ancillary players. They — you know, there is a split. There is a wish to see, is it Rush Limbaugh? 10 percent in one poll said it was Rush Limbaugh. Is it Sarah Palin? Is it Newt Gingrich? It was a wonderful vehicle. There was a fight between the two campaigns as to whether she would be there or not. The media didn't make it up, but they are enjoying it. I'll agree with that.
SCOTT: Kirsten, it does seem the media does enjoy stirring the pot and proclaiming there is no leader.
POWERS: They do. But they did the same thing with the Democrats. I don't know why people can't remember this. when the Democrats were sort of out in the wilderness and didn't have a leader and didn't know what was happening after 2000, there was a similar poll actually, that said, you know, would the Republican poll said that 52 percent say they don't know. 60 percent of Democrats said they didn't know who spoke for the Democratic Party. This was a story among the Democrats. Until somebody emerges as a leader, it will continue with the Republicans.
SCOTT: Time for a break. First, if you want to hear what we're talking about during the commercial, go to our Web site, FOXnews.com/FOXnewswatch.
We'll be back in two minutes with a look at the news biz of the future.
ANNOUNCER: Reporting the news, delivering the news, and how the strategic changes may be part of a White House plan. And our troops in Iraq get some comic relief. All next, on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST, "CAVUTO": Do you worry though, in the process, that people could be getting dumber about current events. And I only say that — I'll go ahead and admit that my daughter gets all her news off these devices. And some are abbreviated versions. In other words, it's not a very long, long story on an iPhone. And I'm just worried, not only about my daughter, but about a generation that won't get or even want to get news in as much depth.
MURDOCH: I think they'll want to get it. They'll get it differently. It is true the way they get it at the moment, you can get just — you can say I don't want to hear about two or three seconds.
MURDOCH: And I think people will miss a great deal of getting everything that you get in a newspaper, may not read everything in it. But your eye catches things and you learn things you didn't expect to learn. And I think we'll get back to that when we get these mobile readers which carry newspapers on them. And people, people need it. It's the source of our democracy that we have newspapers. And if you live in a community, you're going to need to know — you want to know everything going on in that community and everything going on in the world, not just what's going on in the world, but also what's happening on our high school sports. Who is the best player last night? This can all of these served digitally much more than it is now in a newspaper.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's our boss, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of News Corporation, and telling Neil Cavuto, that the news business is changing as technology changes, and not necessarily a bad thing.
He seems to see, Jim, that the glass is half full or more that there are all these new technologies that can make news gathering better and yet there's all kinds of hand wringing about the future of the news business.
PINKERTON: There's also some hand wringing about the existing model. As Mr. Rupert said, the exiting model isn't long for this world. All the newspapers which never figured to make — to monetize digital content are going under. They're only belatedly coming to realize what the Wall Street Journal was smart about, which is, you have to charge for content. People have to buy the paper from a news box then you can't give it away on the Web. Kind of an elementary point that's escaped the New York Times and most other newspapers.
SCOTT: You used to work at the old-fashioned thump on the doorstep newspaper. You've got a lot of friends in that business till. What do they think their future is?
HALL: They think I was wise to get into academia.
They're calling me. It worries me. I worked for the L.A. Times many years. And that paper, you know, has been run into the ground by an owner who probably shouldn't have owned it. So that's a different deal.
But Jim is right. I mean, most people are reading online. They were not asked to pay for it online. My daughter expects to pay for things she's downloading. She's 12-years-old. She's not growing up reading a hard copy newspaper.
I think the problem is and what worries people is, how are we going to pay for something in Iraq, how are we going to pay for investigative journalism with micro-charges on the Internet? I don't think anybody has figured that out.
SAMMON: I spent a quarter century as a newspaper reporter and left that world less than a year ago, so I'm a big lover of newspapers. But I think that Murdoch is right. When I sit there at home and my college-age kids happen to be home and at maybe watching TV, I look around, they've got the laptop open. And they're all twittering and IMing and grazing and Googling. And you worry they're not getting any depth. The technology change has made more information available to us, not less. If you see something they want to delve into, you delve into it. There's more material than you could get from a newspaper. I think it's a different format. The quest for human knowledge remains.
SCOTT: Talking about the future of reporters or newspapers, let's talk about the future of reporters. This White House — President Obama supposedly won the election because he learned how to harness the Internet and mobile phones and so forth, There's a piece in Vanity Fair this week that says basically the White House press operation has figured out how to bypass reporters altogether. Is that a good thing?
PINKERTON: Well, from their point of view it is. Michael Wolfe wrote a very smart piece, where he got a great quote from David Corn of "Mother Jones" who said that Robert Gibbs, the press secretary's job, is to, quote, "talk to the dinosaurs," unquote. It was sort of cruel, but it had a certain truth to it.
SCOTT: And yeah, there's (INAUDIBLE) still sitting in the press room.
You've been there. What do you think? Have they eliminated the need for reporters?
SAMMON: I actually think that the Bush administration first started to have some success at mitigating the impact of the National Press Corps because, remember all the stories how secretive the Bush presidency was and how he very rarely granted interviews and so forth? That was true. They said we don't need to play ball with you and leak everything like the Clintons did. And I think Obama has picked up on that and the fact that newspapers are now dwindling and the media is hurting, gives the Obama a better advantage, because there's not as many people to go after them.
SCOTT: Take a listen to what surprisingly the San Francisco Chronicle's Phil Bronstein (ph) said on his blog this week about the fawning press converge and President Obama. He writes, "This guy is good, really good. And frankly, so far we're not. You can't blame powerful people for wanting to play the press to peddle self-perpetuating mythology, but you can blame the press, already suffocating under a massive pile of blame, guilt, heavy debt and sinking fortune for being played. Some of the time, it seems we're even enthusiastically jumping into the pond without evening being pushed. Is there an actual limit to the number of instances you can be on the cover of Newsweek?"
I don't know. What's the answer to that, Jane?
HALL: Apparently, not. They've done a lot of them. I think John McCain had one to Obama's ten or something, the last time anybody counted. I think that Bronstein (ph) has a point. And I think — you know, the Obamas have played the media brilliantly. He is charismatic, an interesting story. But his date night with Michelle somehow got more coverage practically than the health care plan. Whose fault is that? Maybe the media's.
SCOTT: He's still basking in the glow.
POWERS: Yeah. They're doing a great job of managing the press. And having been a person who was on the press secretary's side dealing with the Washington media — no, they have a pack mentality and they can be difficult to deal with. If you can get around them or above them, I say, more power to them.
SCOTT: Time for another break. But first, we'd like your help. We'd always welcome your idea for topics to cover, especially if you come across a story about media bias. E-mail us at newswatch.com .
We'll be back with this.
ANNOUNCER: The left blaming conservatives for the terror. And their coverage of Obama gives way to big book deals. Is there a problem here? All next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: This was the scene after a fatal shooting at the holocaust museum on Wednesday. Since that attack, some commentators on the left blamed conservative, especially those in the conservative media for the tragedy.
Here's what Michael Rowe said on the Huffington Post referring to a controversial discussion on the "Donny Deutsch Show," in which Ann Coulter and the host talked about Jews: "This week, nearly two years later, James von Brunn, driven by his own twisted version of Coulter's publicly proclaimed perspectives regarding the 'imperfection' of Jews, entered the Holocaust Museum in Washington and put them into action, with tragic and deadly consequences."
Kirsten, those comments from Ann Coulter were two years ago. Can you go back that far?
POWERS: The first time I'll ever defend Ann ever. She's not responsible for anti-Semitism in this country, I'm sure. This guy has been an anti-Semitic for a long time. And I think there's this sloppiness assumed because the conservative tend to be anti-government, very critical of big government, that when somebody does something like this, where they express really what this guy was sort of after anti-government anybody person, then it must be a conservative, which was not the case.
SCOTT: Why, why do the so-called right wingers or conservative media always get the blame for this kind of thing?
HALL: When that report came out from the Department of Homeland Security, saying we're in danger of right wing attacks like this — I've read from people who are experts on this, say the immigration debate and the first African-American president and, you know, the economy has — have helped create a climate. But I think words have consequences. There are a lot of people on the Web that are crazy and say crazy things. There are a lot of people who you do have to be careful that you're not whipping up people and telling them, you know, Obama's going to take away your guns. Obama is a fascist. You have to be careful with what you say, I think.
SCOTT: And yet, this story broke, this guy is an anti-Semitic, the same day that we heard about Reverend Jeremiah Wright's latest outburst saying them Jews ain't going to let me get to talk to President Obama. That sounds at least partly anti-Semitic to me. You didn't see anyone trying to tie this gunman to this liberal Democratic, you know, preacher who's tied to the president. But you saw the press trying to say this gunman represented, you know, conservativism or at least certain aspects of the press. Just like when Dr. Tiller, the abortionist, was killed. The stories were, are all pro-lifers terrorists? But when Private Long, the Army recruiter was killed by an Islamic convert, who espoused Jihadism, you didn't see those stories. Again, there's double standard.
PINKERTON: Susan Paige of USA Today did a brave thing. She went on MSNBC, which is owned by General Electric, a huge recipient of federal bailout money, and she said it was unfair to do what Joan Walsh and Markos Moulitsas was doing, which was to blame the shooting on Rush Limbaugh. So Susan Page won't be back again.
SCOTT: There is no doubt that the 2008 presidential race was one of the most exciting in years. And now some of the reporters who covered the race, including former Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe, are character in, revealing true thoughts about the men and women they wrote about, supposedly trying to remain unbiased and journalistically neutral, which begs the question, is anyone objective anymore.
Jane, what do you tell your students? Here we have a newspaper, a Newsweek columnist, who was supposedly neutral, and now comes the book and we find out that he loves President Obama.
HALL: Well, here the revolving door is kind of spinning off its hinges today. It's hard to tell my students what to do. I try to hue to the idea that, if you're a reporter, you don't write a book that makes you into a columnist. I believe that Wolffe left Newsweek and is now an MSNBC analyst. And in the book, he defends it as breaking news. And a lot of people said, it's pretty much Obama's point of view. It does not get anybody from the McCain campaign involved. So you make your own call.
SAMMON: Let's not pretend that Newsweek was a bastion of objectivity and he went off and wrote a liberal boo. Newsweek loved Obama too and Richard Wolffe loved Obama when he was at Newsweek, and he loves Obama in his book.
I read the book. At one point, he talks about Obama walking into a room, and says, without a trace of irony, there was an unbearable lightness of being. That's how he wrote this book.
SCOTT: Evan Thomas compared Obama to God. That's another Newsweek guy.
Everything you need to know about the Wolffe book and its dishonesty is the quote that says, — from Wolffe, "the Obama administration is not interested in the daily or weekly news cycle at all." I mean, he said that's the exact opposite of what Michael Wolf said in a Vanity Fair piece. And what common observation will tell you, they — Obama people are obsessed with the news cycle. And for Wolffe to pretend they are only interested in the national interest is just obviously bogus.
SCOTT: Finally, our troops get some attention from comedian and laboring late night talk show host, Stephen Colbert, with a trip to Baghdad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": So here we are in Baghdad. And I have to say I'm surprised. I thought the whole Iraq thing was over. I haven't seen any news stories about it in months. So I naturally assumed you soldiers had moved on to the new war between wise Latino women and old white men.
Or to defending us against that old lady who keeps firing rockets into the Pacific Ocean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: He does have a point. I mean, there isn't a whole lot of news coverage of Iraq anymore.
POWERS: No, I mean, there's not. I think if it leads, it leads. There's always the situation with the media and that they want bad stories. And when things are going badly, they want to write about it. And you could argue that it's for ideological reasons. I'm not sure I buy that. I think it's more that they need more conflict to write about.
SCOTT: Well, and they got some comedy out of Colbert.
We have to take one more break. When we come back, former President Bush takes a flying leap on his birthday. We'll show you the perfect landing.
SCOTT: It has been a week of birthday celebrations for the Bush family filled with parties, cakes and photographs. And the cast from a playhouse production of "A Chorus Line" was invited to celebrate Barbara Bush's 84th birthday on Monday. TMZ got a hold of some of the photos and, as you can see, it looks like she had a good time.
Here she is with some of the actors beside the pool.
Hey, don't forget George. Here's the former president with one of the chorus girls.
The celebrations continued. The former president turned 85 on Friday. He celebrated with a parachute jump. He jumped out of a plane near his summer house in Kennebunkport, Maine. A perfect landing. He made his first jump as a Navy pilot when his plane was shot down over the Pacific during World War II. He marked his 75th and 80th birthdays with jumps and on a couple of other occasions.
As I pilot, I'll stick to flying the plane. Why jump out of a perfectly good one.
That is a wrap on "News Watch" this week. Thanks to Jane Hall, Jim Pinkerton, Bill Sammon and Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott. We'll see you next week.
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