This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," December 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, HOST: On "Fox News Watch," President Obama lays out his plan for Afghanistan finally and gets bombarded with criticism from media on both the right and the left.
As Congress looks into who screwed up at the state dinner, the couple at the center of the story says the press has ruined their lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAREQ SALAHI, DINNER PARTY CRASHER: Our lives have been destroyed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Tiger's weird tale hits the tabloids and gets tongues wagging. Should the golf great be entitled to any privacy from the prying eyes of the press?
Four cops brutally murdered in the Northwest. Did the liberal media use the tragedy to try to tear down a possible presidential hopeful?
What can go wrong when Twitter meets TV?
On the panel this week: Writer and Fox News contributor, Judy Miller; editor of the National Review, Rich Lowry; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New America Foundation; and Fox News analyst and "New York Post" columnist, Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
As we began the week, America prepared to hear from President Obama, his long-awaited plans for the war in Afghanistan. Well before the speech on Tuesday, the White House was under fire from the right, and especially the left. Some of the president's biggest public cheerleaders, like MoveOn.org, used the media to castigate him.
Filmmaker Michael Moore begged him in an open letter not to commit more troops to the region. "With our economic collapse still in full swing", Moore wrote, "and our precious young men and women being sacrificed on the altar of arrogance and greed, the breakdown of this great civilization we call America will head full throttle into oblivion if you become the war president."
Well, President Obama made his case in an address from West Point Tuesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Our overarching goal remains the same, to disrupt, dismantle and defeat in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: And then came the reaction from the media. In USA Today: "New Afghanistan strategy leaves Democrats doubtful, GOP critical;" from The Los Angeles Times: "Confusion swirls under new war plan." The New York Times said, "Obama's war speech wins over some skeptics."
So let's go back, Jim, to that Michael Moore letter that he wrote the day before this speech. Who does he represent in the media?
JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Michael Moore would probably claim to represent the left, liberal conscience of the media, what they really think in their heart of hearts and what they're taught at the Columbia Journalism School and so on.
And I think that there's a pretty good churning of the liberal intelligence that gives Michael Moore as much attention as they do, and pay as much respect to him as they do, because he's saying things they don't quite have the guts to say.
SCOTT: Kirsten, you represent the left in the media.
Would you have written that letter that Michael Moore wrote?
KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS ANALYST & COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK POST: I don't know. If I was Michael Moore, sure, that's his public role is to be, to be carrying the flag for the left. And I don't think there's anything wrong with asking the president to not send more troops. It's not -- I don't support his strategy. So I think that there are a lot of people on the left, a lot of Democrats, who come out and said that they're very unhappy with what Obama's doing.
SCOTT: On the eve before the speech, Rich, the same day that Michael Moore's letter came out, Vice President Cheney, former Vice President Cheney gave a pretty strong rebuke of the president's strategy. and he took all kinds of heat in the press. Michael Moore did not. Why?
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, that's a question that answers itself. It's the best kind of questions to get, Jon.
Obviously, the press has it in for Dick Cheney in a way they don't for Michael Moore. Dick Cheney has carved out an unusual role for himself. Usually, the presidents and vice-presidents aren't, every week, out there pounding on their -- people who have taken over from them, but I think that Cheney's attitude is, because Obama has been so unrelenting in his explicit and implicit criticisms of the Bush administration, someone has to stand up and push back. and that's what he's taken his role on.
SCOTT: There was more of that criticism in the speech, which is fairly unusual for a president.
LOWRY: Quite unusual. I do think, the speech itself -- this was the least positive coverage a major Obama speech has ever gotten. Two things are going on. I think the faux eloquence and the wind-baggery are wearing on everyone, even mainstream journalists. and two, there's just this contradiction at the heart of the speech that couldn't be ignored where he's ordering a surge and, at the same time, he's telling us the day he's going to begin pulling it back.
SCOTT: And media figure, Chris Matthews, who had this to say after the president's speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, MSNBC: I didn't see a lot of warmth in that crowd out there the president chose to address tonight. I thought that was interesting. He went to maybe the enemy camp tonight to make his case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: West Point, the United States military academy...
... the enemy camp for the commander-in-chief. He did apologize, sort of, called it, I think, a poor choice of words.
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS ANALYST: You have to -- you just have to say about Chris, there he goes again, because he did have to apologize. You know, I think I almost saw a couple of bloggers point out that this president, as other presidents, now using military facilities as a prop for a political speech. Every president does it and now Obama's done it. And I think a number of bloggers in The Washington Times and elsewhere noticed that.
PINKERTON: Of course, Obama, more explicit than any other president ever, said, looked at a bunch of soldiers one time and said, this would make a great photo op. You guys are great. The cynicism kind of has leaped in the coverage of him. And I would say, probably the most consequential pundit out there on foreign affairs, Thomas Friedman, who came out against the Afghan surge.
MILLER: But Les Gelb, who had been very critical of the -- I won't use the word "dithering," but the undue deliberation -- actually came out in favor of it, and said, you know, this is a terrible set of choices. He's chosen the least bad one. We're all Americans here, let's report it.
LOWRY: And first big poll afterward showed most people support the president's policy, which to me shows how much the media overemphasized the way the public turned on the Afghan wars. It's basically -- it's been up in the air, kind of evenly divided on it, but nothing like the Iraq war in '06 and '07 when people were really deeply sick of it and wanted to get out.
SCOTT: It was interesting to me, Kirsten, that he tried to blunt the criticism of the speech of the amount of time it took for the decision, when he said something to the effect, you know, none of the proposals ever put in front of me would have taken in effect until next year, anyway, so, no, I haven't delayed anything, kind of telling the media, hey, back off on that line of criticism.
POWERS: No, I don't think the media was really -- I thought that they carried the water for him a lot on that, on the idea that he wasn't dithering. That was coming more from people who are critics of his, you know, people on the right, Dick Cheney, these type of people. and I feel as though the mainstream media was kind of defending him, saying, no, this isn't dithering, this is thoughtful and...
POWERS: Yes deliberative, unlike George Bush, who came from the gut and said -- I thought that was very much the way it was couched.
MILLER: That was actually The Washington Post headline, "From the head not from the gut."
POWERS: Right, right.
SCOTT: It's time now for a break.
But first, have you checked out our Web site? We have some bonus features available there, including some of the discussions you can't see on TV that erupt in here during our breaks. You can hear them after the show at Foxnews.com/foxnewswatch.
We'll be back in two minutes to talk about a certain couple from Virginia.
ANNOUNCER: Uninvited. These two crash a big White House party causing major concern and launching a congressional investigation into the security failure. Then the couple blamed the media for ruining their lives. Really.
And the news media grab a hold of Tiger's tail, as the number-one golfer's saga unfolds. Is he fair game? All next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Oh, the price of media fame.
Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the now infamous couple who say they were invited to the White House state dinner November 24th. The Associated Press reports the couple got into the state dinner without an invitation. The A.P. says it obtained an e-mail between the couple and a Pentagon official allegedly sent hours after the party started. The couple now admits they went without a confirmed invitation, hoping they could get approved at the last minute. The alleged party crashers say they missed a voice mail saying they were not on the official guest list.
The Salahis appeared on the NBC "Today Show" with Matt Lauer. Here is what they had to say about all of this media attention Tuesday morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SALAHI: Unfortunately, we've been mischaracterized through the media and other paparazzi forums and, you know, our homes have been invaded. And it's been devastating to us, what is happening to Michaele, and our friends, colleagues, our business partners.
MICHAELE SALAHI, DINNER PARTY CRASHER: Our lives have been destroyed.
SALAHI: Our lives have really been destroyed.
MICHAELE SALAHI: Everything we've worked for, Matt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Their lives have been destroyed by those cruel people in the media.
Judy, so much, so much chat about, you know, media chatter about who they are and what they aspire to and what they did. But shouldn't the focus really be on national security here?
MILLER: It definitely should be. None of America, nobody in the press is going to be shedding crocodile tears for them. But how they got in and the fact that three Secret Service people have now been suspended and that someone at the White House has lost her job. She says because they told her they didn't need her to stand at the door anymore and check names. This is Kathy Hargrove's explanation of why she left in June. That's the issue, how did this happen. Now, it's true, they did a spectacular job defending the president elect and then the candidate, but mistakes like this can't happen.
SCOTT: It's my understanding, Kirsten, it was a Washington Post gossip columnist who first raised questions about them being there. Is it an example of the press doing its job?
POWERS: I guess so. I mean, but the idea is in a way they're trying to pretend they've been through so much, it's just so horrible.
What they did, I think, most Americans would agree, was just wrong. and I think that, you know, people have talked about, well, what if, you know, they'd had anthrax or what if they we had acid or what if a person got that close to the president and did something like that. In that sense, they at least exposed something that's a problem that can be fixed now.
I think what Judy brought up is an important point. The White House decided to not have somebody standing there at the gate, which is unheard of in terms of party planning or anything like that. there's always somebody there as a protocol person in case anything comes up, to make sure people, you know -- and it would have been caught easily right there at that point. And instead, now, the Secret Service is sort of taking the fall for what happened.
SCOTT: Rich, you go to the White House about every other day or so.
LOWRY: Not anymore.
SCOTT: Well, do you have concerns about how safe it is?
LOWRY: This will never happen again. We know that now. And I think it's more than a security story. It's a cultural story. It's on another chapter in the ongoing depth of shame in this country. And there have always been shameless people. But what -- throughout all of history, obviously. What's different now, almost every lever of culture encourages and rewards that shamelessness. The best thing would have been for "Today" not to do an interview of them at all. Now, it's the train wreck after interview, and we're all justifiably laughing about it. But the best thing would be -- the only way to discourage this is for people to be ignored, and that will never happen.
PINKERTON: If NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC, had any honor, they would, of course, not put them on Bravo as they intend to do, down the road somewhere, and make money off this.
But it is interesting, from a Homeland Security point of view, the House Homeland Security is more interested in the case at the White House than they ever where about Fort Hood. They're having hearings on this, grinding the Secret Service through the mud.
LOWRY: Good point.
PINKERTON: And ignoring the obvious malfeasance of the FBI and others in terms of protecting our soldiers from Muslim terrorists.
LOWRY: It's a lot easier, because you don't get the P.C. issues at all.
MILLER: Well, no, but there are other committees in the Senate that are looking into Fort Hood. I don't think we've begun to hear the end of that story yet.
SCOTT: Why isn't Chairman Betty Thompson interested in Fort Hood?
SCOTT: Let's take another break.
First though, if you come across a story about media bias, e-mail us at newswatch@Foxnews.com.
We'll be back to talk about Tiger Woods. He's long been a darling of the press. But now, are the media claws coming out?
ANNOUNCER: It's a triple bogey for Tiger Woods as his personal transgressions are played out in the press. Can it get any worse?
And a tragedy in Seattle gives the liberal media a chance to take shots at a GOP favorite. Details next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Tiger's tale has the press in a tizzy this week as fallout over his Thanksgiving weekend car crash continues. Women, claiming to have had a sexual relationship with the number-one golfer, came forward to tell their stories.
The National Enquirer reported that Tiger had an affair with New York club promoter, Rachel Uchitel, who quickly hired celebrity lawyer, Gloria Allred. That was followed by an US Weekly exclusive with a Los Angeles cocktail waitress, Jaimee Grubbs. She claims she had a three-year affair with Tiger. And finally, Life and Style got into the mix with a scope on the alleged third mistress, named Kalika Moquin, a Las Vegas marketing agent.
And then there was this voice mail message, allegedly from Tiger to L.A. cocktail waitress, Grubbs. Supposed to be private, it wound up being played over and over again in the media, with what sounds like a desperate Tiger begging her for a favor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIGER WOODS, GOLF PRO: Hey, it's -- it's Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor, um, can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you. If you can, please take your name off that, and just have it as a number on the voice mail, just have it as your telephone number. That's it, OK? You got to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. All right, bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Can you say humiliation? That led to a statement on Wednesday from Tiger on his web site where he admitted to, quote, "transgressions." And on Thursday, USA Today, asked this in its coverage story, how much privacy do public figures deserve?
Kirsten, that's the question, did the press cross the line in the Tiger coverage?
POWERS: No, I don't -- I don't think that -- I don't know why he would have any expectation of privacy? He legally, certainly, wouldn't, in a court -- I don't think would ever say he had an expectation of privacy. I think that you know, it's not -- it is ultimately between him and his wife, but I do feel that -- I feel like the media could have cover this differently. The way that the women are being sort of held up, they're doing -- one of them is doing interviews, talking about it, talking how hurt she is. I'd like to know why nobody is asking her why were you sleeping with a married man, and why do you feel OK about that, and why are you OK doing this interview. I mean, where is the shame here, for the women and for Tiger? Tiger is being shamed, as he should be, and humiliated, and I hope he gets humiliated more.
SCOTT: It is almost like they're being congratulated, in some respects.
SCOTT: For being found attractive, I guess, by this guy, who some say is a billionaire.
MILLER: Well, I think the sports coverage of Tiger Woods really rivals that of the beginning stages of President Obama. I mean, neither could do any wrong. But I really don't think the mainstream media has a role here. Look, he was not charged with a crime. He had a fight with his wife. He got $164 citation. If these women want to come up and make spectacles of themselves, I think that is between him and his wife. And we shouldn't encourage it.
LOWRY: A car crash is a public event. When you're one of the most famous men in the world, and you have a car crash, where your wife is allegedly bashing your windows out with a club, that's going to get media attention, justifiably.
SCOTT: She was trying to rescue him.
LOWRY: I'm sorry.
PINKERTON: That little line about just trying to rescuing him was so absurd, that provoked a lot more curiosity about this. What exactly was she doing with a golf club, other than trying to whack him on the head with it?
Look, if you life your life in the public spotlight, you play gold in the public spotlight, you do TV commercials all over the place, of course, you're a public figure and you have a right to get covered. I agree with Kirsten. Let him have it.
SCOTT: Judy mentioned, you know, the adulation accompanying President Obama during his early run for office. And it happens that Golf Digest has the two of them on its upcoming cover. It was already -- it had already gone to print when this scandal broke out. And the magazine, which has a long relationship with Tiger Woods -- in fact, it pays him, I think, a seven-figure fee for that association. The magazine says, hey, too late to change it.
LOWRY: Anyone who edits a magazine, who has any bit of a lead time, says, there, but for the grace of God.
LOWRY: So I will not be taking any cheap shots.
SCOTT: All right, here is another story we've been following this week, four police officers from Lakewood, Washington, were gunned down in a diner. The apparent killer, an Arkansas man, named Maurice Clemmons, who had just gotten out of prison, on bail, despite multiple criminal charges ranging from child rape to assault. And Clemmons moved to Washington State from Arkansas. While in Arkansas, he was granted clemency as a teenager for the crimes he committed by then-Governor Huckabee. As the story unfolded, the "New York Times" quickly switched its focus on the governor, asking if this is his Willy Horton moment.
Rich, let me get your take on that. Willy Horton, most in the media said, was an abuse of, I don't know, advertising that kind of thing, political advertising. And yet, now, I guess, Huckabee is fair game?
LOWRY: Yes, I think he's legitimately fair game. Any governor who granted clemency to a guy who goes out and shoots four cops is going to be a big story. I don't see bias playing into this in any way. It's a totally legitimate issue and it's been discussed the way it should be.
POWERS: Yes. I totally agree with that. I also happen to believe that people who are convicted of child rape should never get out of jail in the first place. So I kind of question why this happened in the first place. And that's what people should be talking about.
SCOTT: Is that a question the media should be asking, Jim?
PINKERTON: I think, look, the kid was 17 years old and convicted of nonviolent -- not -- without a gun, burglary, and sentence to 108 years. I think most people would see that as excessive. The real scandal is that he had at least three brushes with the law since the year 2000 and nobody, then, ever chose to revoke his clemency. That wasn't Mike Huckabee's fault. That was other people.
POWERS: What about the child rape?
PINKERTON: That was in Washington State.
MILLER: I found it interesting that it was the conservative media that was much harder on Huckabee than the liberal media.
SCOTT: We have to take one more break.
When we come back, when new media meets old media, the results can be pretty embarrassing.
ANNOUNCER: A TV station promo, a billboard and a Twitter alert. What could have gone wrong? The answer next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: The news business is changing, and no one wants to lose audience or readers, but how do you mix new media with old media. Well, look at what happened to three anchors at the NBC affiliate station WPMI in Mobile, Alabama. In an attempt to promote the station's Twitter breaking news feed, the folks at WPMI decided to rent an electronic billboard, featuring their anchors, and parrot with a live Twitter feed. Good idea, right?
Maybe. Take a look at this photo, snapped by an enterprising driver who caught this unintentionally humorous image driving on Interstate 10. Wild driving, I should say. Did anyone think about what the Twitter feed might be saying? I guess not.
That's a wrap on "News Watch" this week.
Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Rich Lowry and Kirsten Powers.
I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again next week.
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