This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," July 11, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: On "Fox News Watch," Sarah Palin calls it quits, ending her role as governor. Did the media push too hard?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT": Thank God I didn't say anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: A reporter comes clean, admitting the press sided with Biden in '08.
Critics claim the White House effort to fix our economy is failing. Is the press failing to push for answers?
The world says goodbye to the king of pop. Can the media say goodbye, too?
And a Supreme Court nominee prepares for her hearings. Is the press prepared?
On the panel this week, Jane Hall, of the American University. Andrea Tantaros, conservative columnist and FOXnews.com contributor; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New America Foundation 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)
SARAH PALIN, (R), GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: I do not know what the future holds. I want to work right now for people who are going to work in office or out of office for the right things, those principles that built up America, those who are inspired by the values of America who will not deride or apologize for the values that we hold as Americans. I'm going to work for those people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Sarah Palin, giving a follow-up interview this week after she announced her decision to resign as Alaska's governor. Her resignation sparked a fresh round of criticism from the mainstream media, including this now infamous analysis from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Dowd wrote in the column last Sunday that with her announcement that Palin proved she's ready to be president because quote, "Caribou Barbie is one nutty Puppy."
On Friday, veteran White House reporter, Carl Cannon, from AOL's "Inside Politics Daily" had this to say about coverage of Palin when she was running for vice-president. He wrote, "In the 2008 election we," meaning the press, "took sides, straight and simple, particularly with regard to vice presidential candidates. I don't know that we played a decisive role in that campaign and I'm not saying that the better side lost. What I'm saying is that we simply didn't hold Joe Biden to the same standards as Sarah Palin. For me the real loser in this sordid tale is my chosen profession."
Kirsten, you're from Alaska originally before you transplanted to the east coast. Does he have a point?
KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST & FOX NEWS ANALYST: There's a double standard with Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. I mean, it's something that I think, if you look at recently, how some of the things that Joe Biden said that has caused the administration some problems, that would have been a valid thing to cover during the campaign, that he has the propensity of gaffes. It was sort of laughed off and not taken seriously. Whereas if Sarah Palin said something that wasn't very smart or correct, it was front page news.
SCOTT: And you have pointed out in the past, Jane, that female columnists like Maureen Dowd were particularly tough on Sarah Palin.
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Well, it's true and Sally Quinn just had a piece on the "On Faith" column, which I found odd, a bit of a misnomer, the column is all on Newsweek and Washingtonpost.com. Where she takes apart how she — when her water broke and when she should have been home with the children and that she exploited these children. And I have to say, I don't think this is ideology. I think it's sexism. I didn't see anybody saying that the Obama's kept — that President Obama kept the kids up too late. I've seen people questioning Michelle Obama's handbag and probably soon her parenting skills. It's a total double standard.
SCOTT: Cannon makes the point that people were looking for a Hillary Clinton, especially women were looking for Hillary Rodham Clinton to break the glass ceiling. Sarah Palin doesn't fit the bill.
JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION & "FOX FORUM" CONTRIBUTOR: They got Sarah Palin. I think the reason the MSM hate her so much — I think that's the right word to use, "hate" — is because she punctures the idea that reporters, as they are now, represent sort of the ordinary — the interest of the ordinary Americans. Palin is so different than them and her politics are so different that the pretension that even New York Times reporters have that they somehow speak for the people is proven false. And that's why they hate here.
Andrea, even in the Republican Party she's a polarizing fixture. You write she made a smart move giving up the governorship.
ANDREA TANTAROS, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: I don't see the down side to it, whether she writes a book and becomes a millionaire or runs for presidents, what's the worst case that could happen, she loses. That worked out pretty well for Hillary Clinton and Al Gore and the rest of them.
Look, I think this is ideology and sexism. There's a growing trend among the main stream media to attack particularly conservative women. They would never be allowed to call Hillary Clinton a ditz, an idiot, a nutty puppy.
TANTAROS: And it's a class issue. On a purely political front, I think they're worried that Sarah Palin will bring the working class...
HALL: Hillary Clinton was treated like a — it's was actually...
TANTAROS: No, this is a class issue. They view her, no, not even...
TANTAROS: Not even close.
SCOTT: Let's start...
HALL: Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson and a lot of allegedly liberal people talked about how they had to cross their legs for fear of being emasculated for Hillary Clinton.
PINKERTON: That's because they were rooting for Obama.
TANTAROS: And they questioned her decisions as a mother. They go after her special-needs child.
POWERS: We're not disagreeing that Palin gets it. We're saying that Hillary got it, too.
TANTAROS: Not like that. No, way.
POWERS: Palin is somehow...
HALL: I also think that she is tapping into class, you know, and populism in this country. I think she is. She could be crazy like a FOX.
TANTAROS: The elitist media hate her because they view her as a back- water governor with a bee hive. And they just refuse to even think of the notion she could govern them. And that's elitist, the mooring down of the Upper East Side Manhattanites. They look at her and they are disgusted.
SCOTT: What about her, Kirsten? You're from Alaska, as we mentioned. What about her in the fishing waders with the suspenders on. Is that real Alaska or an artifice?
POWERS: No, it absolutely is real Alaska. And Alaskan women tend to hunt and fish. And you know, my mother goes fishing. It's a very common thing. There's nothing unusual about that. I know people were sort of making fun of it. And I think there is a sort of anti-rural sentiment against her. There's a misunderstanding. A lot of this stuff that's reported from Alaska is just a basic misunderstanding of Alaskan politics.
SCOTT: Whatever she does, is she going to get a fair shake from the media in the future?
HALL: I don't know. The other thing is she is very beautiful and I think that her looks are going to constantly get commented on, and I think the waders and the no waders. I mean, to be fair, it is — there is a certain ill logic to say I quit, I'm not a quitter. I quit because I'm not a quitter. I think she'll outsmart a lot of people, even on the Republican side who say she's out because she resigned. I don't think, in this media age, I don't think that's true.
SCOTT: All right.
It's time now for a break. But first, lots of extras available to you on FOXnews.com, including some of the spirited discussion that erupt in here during our break. I feel one coming on. You can hear them after the show, FOXnews.com/FOXNewsWatch.
We'll be back in two minutes to talk about the economy.
ANNOUNCER: The economy's still sputtering. The White House plays defense. Is the press playing along?
The world's media swarm as Michael Jackson is memorialized. Was the coverage too respectful? Answers next, on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We and everyone else misread the economy. The figures we worked off of in January were the consensus figures of most of the blue chip indexes out there. The truth is there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited. Now, that doesn't — I'm not laying this — it's not our responsibility.
So the second question becomes did the economic package we put in place, including the Recovery Act, is it the right package given the circumstances we're in? We believe it is the right package given the circumstances we're in. We misread how bad the economy is, but we're now only about 120 days into the recovery package.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That's Vice President Joe Biden speaking with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."
Did the press, Jim, make enough of what the vice president had to say there?
PINKERTON: Now you know why Vanity Fair sent David Margolis to write this hit piece on how stupid Biden was. Oh, wait, that was Palin.
No, this goes only beginning to dawn on people, A, what a boob Biden is, and, B, how bad the economy is. when Warren Buffett, a strong Obama supporter, said that unemployment isn't going to 10, it's going to 11, and compares the stimulus package, the air ball of the stimulus package to either candy or Viagra, neither of which are very nutrifying, then you know the media too fell for it. Remember, we told what a rush we were in, in February. Had to do this right now because it's instantaneous how it has to happen.
SCOTT: Well, and hardly any of the stimulus funds have been spent. And you don't see that out there in the mainstream media.
HALL: To be fair, all this week, there were a lot of articles, in the New York Times, in The Washington post, questioning where is the money gone, how can he do health care, isn't he doing too much. These were news articles.
There's also a case to be made by the Paul Krugman's of the world, the liberal economists, that he didn't do enough and now he can't come back and ask for more.
I think the media are following, in a way, the public's unease on how much money is being spent. I think we're not hearing a very good debate about — about this. we're hearing the Republicans and conservatives saying, it's over, he is he' done, and guess what, we're going to win back Congress, and other people saying, I can't understand this, which is what a lot of people say.
SCOTT: There's also talk, Kirsten, about this second stimulus, which does get a certain amount of stuff — of coverage, but, I mean, if the first one hasn't been spent yet, how do you propose a second one? And how is the media supposed to decide whether it's needed or not?
POWERS: Well, we talked about this before. I don't think the media is capable of deciding those types of things. I don't think they understand what's going on. And it's very easy for them to be told by, whether it's Larry Summers, whoever sits down, this is what has to happen, and they transcribe it and they believe that. I think that we don't know if there will be another stimulus package. I think probably the biggest problem was the one before, that it wasn't really a stimulus package. And I think that actually was covered to a certain extend. It was sort of larded up with a lot of stuff from Congress and it wasn't the type of — it wasn't...
SCOTT: You're not calling it the porkulus bill?
POWERS: I'm not. But it wasn't a pure stimulus package.
TANTAROS: I'll call it the porkulus.
SCOTT: What about what the vice president said there, when he says, gosh, we just didn't understand how bad this economy was. They had promised to keep unemployment under what, 8, 8.5 percent.
PINKERTON: I think at 8, peak at 8.
SCOTT: OK, peak at 8. Why aren't they taking more heat in the media?
TANTAROS: Because the media — I mean, they're scripting media questions and they're cozy with the media. We know this. Facts are stubborn things though. They have to actually report the numbers and jobs aren't being created.
When it comes to Joe Biden, Republicans don't need to run again — put up a message against Obama. His own vice president is doing a great job. I think the double standard here though is Bush made tons of gaffes and they were covered through and through. Joe Biden gets barely any coverage.
SCOTT: Let me throw this question at you. You're representing the liberal side here, but there were month after month after month of job gains in the Bush administration and yet, you know, these days, this is the Bush economy as portrayed in the media.
POWERS: Really? Because I feel like it's the Obama economy. I feel like it's been...
SCOTT: Do you think it is?
POWERS: I think that people — yeah, the sentiment is this belongs to Obama. Yes, he inherited a bad situation, but you know, Obama was...
SCOTT: Joe Biden was trying to turn it into the Bush economy.
POWERS: I'm sure they're going to try to do that, but I don't think anybody is going to buy it anymore.
SCOTT: Did Stephanopoulos buy it?
HALL: Well, you know, it was also the Bush TARP. I think that Obama owns the TARP, which he didn't...
PINKERTON: He voted for it.
HALL: Yeah. But, I mean, we had amnesia in the media. There is a piece in The Atlantic that talks about — compares Obama to Herbert Hoover in a scary way, saying that he may be too conservative. He may — you know, the whole Geithner-Summers thing, the same people that brought you this disaster are in charge. I haven't seen the media talk about that very much.
PINKERTON: The cluelessness of the media is revealed every time that some reporter credulously writes down that the cap-and-trade bill is a jobs bill, which is, of course, part of the Obama spin. The cap-and-trade is a strangulation of the economy that the environmentalists are trying to perpetrate. Of course, the economy is not going to recover. Of course, nobody in their right mind is going to build a factory for the next 20 years as long as they think that the environmentalists are going to shut them down. That ought to get noted.
HALL: Sorry, Jim, the cap-and-trade, which is strangling the economy, is...
PINKERTON: It would be honest.
SCOTT: Check out our — the argument that's about to erupt at FOXnews.com/newswatch.
Time for another break. We'd like your help. Story ideas always welcome here, especially if you come across a story about media bias. E- mail us at NewsWatch@FOXnews.com
We'll be back to talk about the press and the kind of pop.
ANNOUNCER: A tribute to a superstar gets world attention. But did the press get caught the hype?
Here comes the judge. The president's pick for the highest court gets set for a grilling by the Senate. Has the press done its job? Details next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Scenes from the Michael Jackson memorial service in Los Angeles earlier this week. 31 million people tuned in to watch that three- hour service on TV, more viewers than watched the funerals for presidents Ford or Reagan.
The amount much media set up outside the Staples Center, enormous. And Representative Sheila Jackson Lee even held up a House resolution she wanted to introduce to honor the king of pop.
What was the darker side of the story? The questions about Jackson's personal life, was that all ignored in the media?
New York Congressman Peter king did not hold back when giving his view of the media coverage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. PETER KING, (R), NEW YORK: We just want to stand up and say we don't need Michael Jackson. He died. He has some talent, fine. People dying every day, men and women are dying today in Afghanistan. Let's give them the credits they deserve. I really I think the media has disgraced itself. I think people there are too many people in public life who makes fools of themselves by talking about Michael Jackson like he was some kind of hero. There's nothing good about this guy. He may have been a good singer, dancer, but the bottom line is, would you let your child or grandchild be in the same room with Michael Jackson? What are we glorifying him for?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: After Congressman Peter King made those comments, he reported getting death threats.
What about that, Jim?
Did the press shy away from the sort of seamy underside of Michael Jackson's life?
PINKERTON: No, I don't think they did to be honest. I think it got a lot of coverage. Certainly the trials that he confronted were covered enormously. Those were events of equivalent levels to this. People going live to watch Michael Jackson stand on top of a car and so on.
I think that Peter King made some pretty good points. But the event itself, the actual funeral, was a beautiful service. You have to say that.
HALL: I think they covered the questions about him until they got to the funeral. And once they did, even Martin Bashir, who had the interview with him talking about inviting young boys into his bed and how good that was as an idea, even he was delicate. I think once they were there, they treated it as like a state funeral. And the journalism for that period kind of went out the window. It also crowded out everything else that was happening in the world. And there were deaths in Afghanistan. There were other things happening.
SCOTT: I was surprised, Kirsten, in watching some of the coverage of his death to learn that a lot of the bizarre aspects of Michael Jackson's life were created by him and his people, like the sleeping in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. That was a photo that his people gave to the National Inquirer, and said, here, run this.
POWERS: That's crazy. I personally find all the coverage offensive. Maybe cover the funeral, maybe do — I thought maybe a day or something of coverage. It was ridiculous. It was completely out of control. And people — there's always sorts of problems with people dying. I mean, there are things happening in the world that we need to be talking about. And instead, we're obsessed with this person who, you know, is an accused pedophile.
SCOTT: The Pew Center, Andrea, did a study and found that Michael Jackson's death covered — obliterated everything else from the news cycle. Can you explain why?
TANTAROS: Because this country is obsessed with celebrity. I mean, they went bananas over Anna Nicole Smith so of course they're going gaga over of Michael Jackson.
You know, Kirsten is right. It's disgusting. It was overkill. While everyone was mourning the king of pop, the queen of socialism, Nancy Pelosi, jamming through the largest tax increase.
And no one is paying attention because they're wearing their red leather and black jackets and studded white gloves. I mean, what really matters. Kirsten is right. This guy was an accused pedophile. Yes, he had some talent. Should we read some stories about him? Great. But it was way too much.
SCOTT: Here is more on a story we told you about last week. The Washington Post has launched an internal investigation now after it's plans to host private events with White House officials and Washington Post reporters was widely criticized as a breech of journalistic ethics.
In a letter to readers last Sunday, publisher, Katherine Weymouth wrote, "Our mistake was to suggest we would hold and participate in an off- the-record dinner with journalists and power brokers, paid for by a sponsor. As publisher, it's my job to ensure that we adhere to standards that are consistent with our integrity as a news organization. Last week, I let you and the organization down."
Does this end it, Jane?
HALL: I don't think so, because there hasn't really been a full accounting of how reportedly some of these invitations went out under her personal e-mail.
The New York Times had a good piece, David Carr, the media writer, about how she was a Harvard Business School person. She is the heir to the great, grand family which — you know that risks its licenses of television stations to have Watergate and to start of selling access. It shows how far we've come. And unfortunately, a lot of newspapers are hurting and they're trying to monetize the journalism.
SCOTT: They are trying to come up with interesting ways to raise money, but selling, I don't know, access to Washington Post reporters for $25,000 a party?
POWERS: Well, it doesn't even seem to me that they were even going to make some money off of it. I think it was $25,000 towards the event or — I don't know...
HALL: A sponsorship.
POWERS: Yeah. I mean, how much money are you really going to make off something like that? There are lots of events like this that go on. The Atlantic Monthly does them. But they don't offer up access to people that they don't — I don't understand how they have control over the Obama administration officials. That was the thing that bothered me. I was like, why are you able to provide access to them? What's — that doesn't make sense.
PINKERTON: If I can sell the (INAUDIBLE) for $25,000, I'll make some money. I guarantee it. But I think the real full accounting has to be what the Obama administration and whoever else in Congress might have agreed to do this. I'd like to see that list of which politicians were there to suck up to the Washington Post while The Post profited.
TANTAROS: Don't hold your breath.
This is supposed to be the most transparent government in U.S. history. It's about as transparent as a wool sock. Not at all.
SCOTT: We've already mentioned the Michael Jackson memorial service was given heavy media coverage. Can we expect the same thing next week when confirmation hearings for Judge Sotomayor get under way on Capitol Hill?
What do you think, Jane?
HALL: Well, I think we'll start out with live hearings. I think it's very significant. I think you're going to see dueling witnesses, the firefighter who — you know, the lawsuit that was overturned by the Supreme Court. And then, people saying she was a great D.A.
SCOTT: It's going to be fun to watch.
We want to remind you about a one-hour special on Sunday night previewing those confirmation hearings. Join us Sunday night for our special coverage. We'll have a special preview of the hearing, "FOX News Reporting, Judging Sotomayor," Sunday night, 8 p.m. eastern right here on FOX News. And then live coverage of the Sotomayor hearings, Monday morning, 9 a.m. eastern.
One more break for us now. When we come back, a picture that does not tell the whole story.
SCOTT: A picture's worth a thousand words. But those words might not tell the whole story. And that's exactly what got "Caught in the Web" this week.
The photo of President Obama at the G-8 summit was splashed all over web sites this week. Now to the naked eye, it looks like the president is, well, glancing at a certain part of a young Brazilian woman's anatomy. Naturally, the Drudge Report could resist giving the picture a lot play. But does the picture tell the whole story?
Take a look now at the video from the same event. It looks likes the president doesn't even notice the young woman. As for what French President Nicolas Sarkozy is looking at, well, let's just use another paraphrase from journalism, no comment.
That is a wrap on "News Watch" this week.
Thanks to Jane Hall, Jim Pinkerton, Andrea Tantaros and Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for watching. We'll see you again next week.
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