This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," August 8, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST (voice-over): On "FOX News Watch," Americans not happy with President Obama's health care plans speak out. And some in the media shout back. While the White House launches its snoop patrol against the opposition.
Two American journalists return from their lock up in North Korea. Will we get the whole story?
Twitter gets banned as a national security risk.
Paramount Pictures does not invite the mainstream press to its new summer blockbuster.
How did the Manson murders forty years ago shape news coverage we get today?
And big birthdays at the White House this week lead to big jokes in late-night.
SCOTT (on camera): On the panel this week, Jane Hall, of the American University; National Review editor, Rich Lowry; Jim Pinkerton, a fellow at the New America Foundation; and Judy Miller, writer and "FOX News" contributor.
I'm Jon Scott. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
We are here today because we all have written letters, we all have made calls. We all are getting that information. We all sent letters with our concerns. We all have gotten the same form letters back. We are here today because we want an answer that is not in the form of a form letter. We want answers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a question for this young man.
REP. ARLEN SPECTER, (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Go sit down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a question for this young man. He has the right to be represented. I am his father and I want to talk to you face to face.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see nothing that is about health care. (APPLAUSE). What I see — what I see is a bureaucratic nightmare, Senator. Medicaid is broken. Medicare is broke. Social Security is broke. (APPLAUSE). And you want us to believe that a government that can't even run a “cash for clunkers” program is going to run one-seventh of our U.S. economy? No sir. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Scenes from town hall meetings around the country, including that last one where Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Arlen Specter got an earful about health care reform in Philadelphia.
Passionate statements like the ones you've heard have lead to a fierce reaction from the liberal media. Take a look.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Our fifth story on the "Countdown," the Astoturfing of health care reform in a desperate bid to defeat it. Remarkable new video tonight of fake grassroots protesters working from scripts disrupting town hall meetings of Democratic lawmakers.
SCOTT: That's just from cable TV.
Then there's this from the New York Times. "The protests organized by loose-knit coalition of conservative voters and advocacy groups were a raucous start to what is expected to be weeks of political and ideological clashes over the health care overhaul."
The message from the mainstream media, Rich, seems to be that these things are fake. They're so-called Astroturf. They're not willing to give credence to the idea that these might be broke people with real emotions.
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Jon, we've gone from eight years straight of "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" to, if you boo your congressmen, you are an enemy of the state. I can't remember in the last 30 years any protest movement in America that hasn't gotten sympathetic coverage from the media, except for the tea parties earlier this year, except for this. It's obviously part of partisanship and ideological bias.
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Can I beg to disagree?
SCOTT: Please do.
HALL: I believe it was Ari Fleischer, a Republican, who said people need to watch what they said. He questioned everybody's patriotism. That doesn't wash. I think the media, if they're liberal and for this, they ain't helping because this is being endlessly replayed. They have fallen totally into this is conflict. People — whoever — there are several issues. I think the media should be looking at who are the groups that are organizing this. Just as they should be looking at what George Soros is funding.
SCOTT: Are they, in fact, organizing it?
HALL: We're not — well, there have been some very interesting reports about the fact that it's pharmaceutical companies, it's millionaires. It's not average people who are whipping these people up. Where the White House has screwed up is they call them a mob. You don't call dissent a mob.
JUDITH MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You call dissent a mob when it acts like a mob. We saw clips where people were asking legitimate questions and really deserved legitimate answers, straight-forward answers, which they haven't been getting from the Obama administration.
However, there have also been clips that I've seen on the air, we've all seen, of people shouting down congressmen who are supposedly trying to give them the information. I think what you have here is a hybrid. You have some legitimate outrage, some people who want answers and some people who have been sent by the Dick Armeys and the Rick Scotts of the world, whose company had to pay $1.7 billion in fines.
LOWRY: What does that have to do with protest at town hall meetings?
MILLER: No, because they're shutting down the town hall meetings.
LOWRY: That's the biggest Democratic talking point. You repeat that every time you mention Rick Scott. It has nothing to do with these ordinary people at these meetings.
JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Here's the key to this thing...
SCOTT: In this civil forum, let's let Jim in.
PINKERTON: I can help with a key distinction. If you're Barack Obama, and you're a community organizer, whatever you do is good, according to the mainstream media. If you're a white middle-class American, who happens to be reading from the same Saul Alinsky, the patron saint of community organizer's play book, then you're, as Steve Pearlstein of the Washington Post put it, a, quote, "political terrorist."
LOWRY: Anymore questions?
HALL: Let's me be...
... and say both things are true. Because I think the Obama people need to do a better job of explaining health care. This whole idea of saying, tell us who is spreading lies, feels like 1984. And they are not helping themselves with that video, saying tell us who is spreading lies. They need to put their point of view across.
But I do think it's legitimate to say, who is behind this. I mean, certainly we hear from people on "FOX News," that George Soros is behind this.
LOWRY: That's what I'm saying, Jane, you can't manufacture anger. You can e-mail and call people...
HALL: You can scare people.
MILLER: You can scare people.
LOWRY: No, no, no. You can e-mail and call them to get out as much as you like. They would not show up if they weren't legitimately angry.
HALL: That's true but you can scare people to the point — I mean, I think there's a difference between...
LOWRY: Who is scaring people about the drug companies and the insurance industry?
HALL: I mean, you have people shouting down U.S. congressmen.
LOWRY: There is scare tactics on both sides.
HALL: If someone hanged an effigy and — and a congressmen having to be escorted to his car, that is not civil discourse.
PINKERTON: Here's scare tactics. Scare tactics is Rachel Maddow taking the first ten minutes of every show this week to denounce them and call them names and talk about Astroturf. By contrast, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat from Missouri, said in her Twitter account, listen, I think this is just real people. That's the choice. The real terrorism going on is MSNBC and the liberal media.
HALL: Oh, that is so upside down.
PINKERTON: They're playing liberal snob to white working-class Americans.
HALL: And they're playing right into the hands of people who are — corporate interests who are the pharmaceutical companies that don't want this to happen.
PINKERTON: The pharmaceutical companies are for.
HALL: Oh, yeah, if they get a cap, then they get half their pay.
LOWRY: The greatest trick in American politics ever, they had the drug company cutting a back-room deal at the White House. The insurance company running ads in favor of health care reform. And they are getting vilified by the Democrats at the same time. It's a really neat trick.
SCOTT: Jane brought this up. The White House has asked Americans to contact it if they see what they call disinformation about health care plan.
Take a listen to our Major Garrett getting into it with White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHTIE HOUSE PRESS SERETARY: We are not collecting names from those e-mails.
MAJOR GARRETT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Why ask for them then? I mean, what's — what's the goal. I still don't understand what the particular goal is?
GIBBS: The particular goal is to — is...
GARRETT: To e-mail the White House about particular issue?
GIBBS: Well, it's to get misinformation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Judy, is there something creepy about the White House collecting e-mails from ordinary Americans about disinformation?
MILLER: This is part and parcel of what the Obama campaign did, which is to collect names and addresses of people who were going to be on its side in this debate.
LOWRY: That's Astroturf. That's Astroturf, right?
That's wrong. There's something wrong with that. You can't send out e-mails or organize people.
HALL: You can't say tell on your friends who are sending you stuff. I mean, that is Orwellian. That's —
MILLER: Wait a minute. No, no, no. If somebody says, I've gotten the message from clearly an Astroturf group that I want the White House to know about, I don't see why the White House...
LOWRY: But why report anyone's opinion to the White House?
PINKERTON: And then, let's go further. Politics Daily, which is a new political web site, reported the Obama White House has reversed a nine- year-old policy to not keep track of the people — the cookies people put in when they go browsing on the White House web site. For the first time in nine years, if you go to the White House web site and click around, they're keeping that as well. That's a violation of the Bush-era understanding of privacy.
SCOTT: All right, we have to take a break. But we have a lot of extras available to you on our web site, including some of the spirited discussions that I know are about to break out in this studio.
You can hear them after the show, FOXnews.com/FOXNewsWatch.
We will be back in two minutes with this.
ANNOUNCER: A huge homecoming in for two American journalists caught by North Korea. Is there more to this story? And has Twitter become a national security threat? Answers next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: On Wednesday, the news media fixated on two Americans returning home. Euna Lee and Laura Ling arrived to a huge welcome in California. The two journalists held in North Korea for nearly five months for entering the country illegally. Their reunion with their families very high in emotion.
Laura's sister, Lisa Ling, also a journalist, spoke with the media later, and asked whether the two women had showed poor judgment in their reporting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA LING, JOURNALIST: She will confirm that when they left U.S. soil that they never intended to cross the border. I don't think they used poor judgment.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why not?
LING: Because — I'm going to let her tell the story, because I think there's probably more that we don't know about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Jim, you heard Lisa Ling's story about her sister's capture. What do you think? Will we ever get the real story about what's going on?
PINKERTON: I think she was right when she said there's plenty we don't know. This story suffered greatly from all the layoffs and shrinkage of foreign bureaus and so on. We don't know anything about what happened. All we know is that at last-minute, Bill Clinton resuscitated his career by flying in there to be a hero. And so it will be his telling first-hand accounts and so on and so on. The rest of us...
LOWR: Talk about reliable there.
HALL: Oh, you're hardhearted.
MILLER: This is a tough group, a tough group.
HALL: I think you can ask were they foolhardy. But you know, I go back long enough that Bob Simon, in the first gulf war, went over and was held in captivity. Should we not have tried to get the hostages from Iran out? Steve Centanni was captured in the Gaza Strip. People do things and say things when they are talking to a dictator to help get somebody out. This whole idea that somehow the dictator in Korea benefits seems crazy to me.
SCOTT: Part of the question here, Judy, is that this led to an international incident. You have a former president going over to arrange the release of these two. You can argue that it really has altered international relations. Should they be explaining more of what happened to them and what they were doing and why they were there?
MILLER: Of course, they should explaining more. Let's compare it to something more recent, which is David Rohde of the New York Times, who was held hostage in Pakistan. Now he came back and the day after or maybe two days after his release, there was a front-page story in the New York Times about how he was captured, what he was doing, what it took to facilitate his escape, how he escaped, why his college didn't go, all of this. We know none of this with respect to this story. Every news organization should have been preparing such a story for the day after these young women's release.
SCOTT: Are the media asking enough questions?
LOWRY: Probably not, but I think more than anything else, what overwhelmed the story is this feel-good element of these two poor women being caught in a tearful reunion. So it's easy to do that fluff story rather than dig into it and perhaps discover information that doesn't make their conduct innocent.
PINKERTON: That overwhelmed a few critics who were very brave in this case, like John Bolton, who said, listen, we gave Kim Jong-Il a huge, huge gift that he has not earned because he's still building nuclear weapons and so on. Every else just ignored him because he was the only one willing to say the truth. This was bad for U.S. diplomacy.
SCOTT: Then there was this story of this guy, Mitchell Koss (ph), who is their cameraman-producer, who was with them when they were captured, and made it back to United States back in March, and nobody has ever heard his story. What's that all about?
HALL: Well, I think — I hate to use the word "it remains to be seen." I would assume that some of the things that were not done or not said, or not — you know, David Rohde, you can question it, but the media were asked not to report on it. I think the media still have time to look into this. I just feel a little uncomfortable with the implication that somehow these women deliberately — are we implying they were spooks? What are we implying?
MILLER: No, we're not implying that.
LOWRY: At the end of the day, it's the freakish regime that's the problem — that's going to sentence people to 12 years of hard labor for stepping foot in their territory that bears the blame.
MILLER: But this freakish regime has absolutely frustrated every single administration from Bill Clinton to George Bush and now to President Obama. Nobody knows how to handle them. And I think that's been pointed out very well in the media.
PINKERTON: One question. Have any of the five of us ever seen the currently? I certainly haven't.
MILLER: No, I haven't.
HALL: Yes, I have.
LOWRY: I have not.
MILLER: Who are these 69 million viewers?
PINKERTON: It was Al Gores plaything that he got fat cats to fund because they felt bad about him losing the 2000 election.
SCOTT: It was interesting that their release...
SCOTT: Their release got Al Gore and Bill Clinton hugging.
SCOTT: That was a television moment.
Time for another break. But first, if you come across a story that you think shows media bias, e-mail us, FOXNews@FOXnews.com. We'll be back right after this.
ANNOUNCER: Paramount Pictures releases their summer blockbuster, "G.I. Joe," and controlling the media's message about the film.
A birthday in the White House makes headlines in late night. Details next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: The military and the NFL both banning those in the ranks from sing social sites like Twitter and Facebook over cyber security concerns. The Marines had already banned the use of social media on military networks. But a new order on Tuesday said the use of sites like Twitter and Facebook could be used to spread malicious content. That's true as well for the NFL. They don't want players tweeting from the sidelines at the game, the locker room, the press box, or even the stands. Teams don't want their training camp secrets becoming fodder for the Twitter sphere.
Do we really need to ban Twitter from the NFL?
PINKERTON: I think the NFL will survivor either way. But I do agree on the military. That's obviously a security issue. If it's that easy to send out information and people are that careless when they do it.
SCOTT: Is this going to affect troop, for instance? I guess you can use Facebook, for instance, in the Marine Corps if you are off duty and it's your own personal computer, if you have such a thing.
MILLER: Well, you can leak information that way too. I think the key words in this press release were "information leakage." That's what they don't want. So what happens to the 4000 followers of the Twitters of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
I think this is over reaction. I think there's another way to deal with this. Unless you're driving a tank when you shouldn't be Twittering or texting or messaging, I don't see what the harm is.
SCOTT: It is just a new take, Rich. Remember when the Marines invaded Somalia and the media were already there. Knew about it and were waiting for it.
LOWRY: I think the thing to do here is educate the troops and what they should be saying on these sites and not. It really is a lifeline for them to communicate with their friends and loved ones.
As far as the NFL, any unauthorized tweeting should be immediately reported to the White House and let Barack Obama take care of your offensive end.
Tweeting in an illegitimate way.
HALL: Unless they're doing performance-enhancing tweeting.
SCOTT: There is a new movie hitting the big screen this weekend with more than $300 million in production and marketing spending. Paramount Pictures released its summer blockbuster, or so they hope, "G.I. Joe." But there's a catch. There weren't any screenings for reviewers in print and broadcast media outlets. Instead, the studio decided to premiere it at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, sponsoring Lynard Skynard and Kidd Rock concert tour. Did Paramount do it to secure some positive reviews? J
Jane, what does it sound like you, the fact that maybe they don't trust the media on the coasts to give them good press?
HALL: Well, yes. And actually I've talked to a couple of film critics, the L.A. Times and Washington Post, former film critics. Film criticism, in general, with cutbacks, they aren't a lot of wonderful designations, as this is our film critic. You've got rotten tomatoes, a lot of things. They can bypass the critics.
They only need them for a little picture that they want help for. That's what these guys have told me.
SCOTT: Is this a sign this movie might be really bad?
MILLER: I think it's maybe, probably very bad. I think it means it also likely to be a great success. I don't see what the issue is, really.
PINKERTON: Hats off to John Miller of National Review, who got hold of a — watching a trailer of it and pointed out that whereas the old G.I. Joe from the '60s was an American soldier, this new G.I. Joe is some kind of ninja international U.N. black helicopters thing. And he went on MSNBC and Donny Deutsch and Tameron Hall just ripped into him. They call him ignorant twice to his face because they couldn't stand the thought that anybody would call Hollywood on its antipatriotic production.
LOWRY: Doesn't G.I. Joe stands for Globally Integrated Joint Operating Entity.
PINKETON: Entity. Entity. If that doesn't make the black helicopter paranoid sound true, what does.
SCOTT: Oh, boy.
Let's switch gears to a story that made headlines four decades ago, and is still making them today. Forty years ago, a two-night murder rampage in Los Angeles by the followers of an aspiring rock star and cult leader named Charles Manson — you see him there — terrified the Hollywood community, made headlines across the world. How did coverage of the mass- murders lead to the kind of coverage we see now in media?
What about it, Rich? Did it change the way that that crime gets covered?
LOWRY: Certainly, socially and culturally, it was a huge moment representing symbolically the retrenchment from the '60s. And I would argue the sign that the 60s would lead into a period of disorder where crime became an obsession in our nation and our national politics. It really didn't end until the Giuliani era in the '90s when we beat it back.
SCOTT: The '60s were all supposed to be about peace and love, and here you had these really grisly crimes.
PINKERTON: Committed by state-of-the-art pot-smoking hippies.
HALL: Well, thank god for Giuliani bringing us back. That's quite a lot of freight for Charles Manson to carry.
HALL: It is interesting to me that Woodstock was also 40 years ago. And I think that was part of the fascination. I wouldn't put a political spin on it. I think it showed people, as O.J. did, I think, even more because cable was in there, that you could have people watching it like a live real-time movie. If we had 24/7 coverage, I'm not even sure what we would be talking about today, probably Charles Manson still.
SCOTT: Does it surprise you, Judy, even given the level of coverage that day, it is still a huge story.
MILLER: Because it was an amazing, extraordinary, horrific crime, one that continues to resonate and make people frightened and reminds us of why we have police and why we need law and order. It's — "Helter-Skelter" was one of the most popular crime thrillers — real, true crime thrillers ever written.
LOWRY: Biggest seller ever, right?
MILLER: Biggest seller ever. So I think crime sells. It's like, if it bleeds, it leads.
PINKERTON: Well, if crime is a problem, people will react to it. As Rich said, the crime rate was exploding during this alleged Summer of Love period. And finally, not until '70s, "The French Connection" and "Dirty Harry," did people start to wake up and say — Richard Nixon — we've got to stop this.
SCOTT: All right, we have...
LOWRY: Not just Giuliani, but Nixon too.
MILLER: Oh, my gosh.
HALL: Oh, my gosh.
MILLER: Whoa. Time out. Time out.
SCOTT: We have to take one more break. I'm going to let them battle it out.
When we come back...
ANNOUNCER: 44 turns 48. Helen adds one more year too. Two birthdays at the White House and two opportunities for laughs on late night. All next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: On Tuesday of this week, the White House pressroom turned party room. President Obama and veteran reporter, Helen Thomas, both celebrated birthdays with singing candles and a wish, of course. President Obama, who turned 48, sang happy birthday to the Hearst columnist, who turned 89. Mr. Obama said they both had a common birthday wish, quote, "a real health care reform bill," unquote.
The late night comedians also took note of the dual birthday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": It is President Obama's 48th birthday. (APPLAUSE). Isn't that nice. It's his birthday. Happy birthday! And the president has asked, in lieu of sending a lieu of a gift, people just make a donation to his favorite charity, General Motors.
UNIDENTIFIED LATE NIGHT HOST: I want to say happy birthday today to Barack Obama. The president just turned 48 years old. If he was ever really born, that is. I guess that depends on whether you believe his birth certificate or not. But Obama's birthday is a reminder of why health care is so important. As you probably know, due to a lack of health care coverage, Obama's mother was turned away from a number of hospitals and was ultimately forced to give birth in a manger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: And that is a wrap on "News Watch" this week.
Did you send the president a card, Jim?
Thank to Jane Hall Jim Pinkerton, Rich Lowry and Judy Miller.
I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for joining us. Keep it right here on "FOX News" channel for the latest news and more. "News Watch" will be back next week.
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