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Transcript: 'Fox News Watch,' December 19, 2009

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," December 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JON SCOTT, HOST: On "Fox News Watch," tensions rise in Washington as health care overhaul hits snag after snag. The press targets Democratic dissenters and blames the GOP for stall tactics. Have they missed the mark?

The media go green, joining the chaos at a sputtering climate conference in Copenhagen. Chavez and others point the finger of blame at us. Obama arrives with his message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies and our planet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: And those who don't agree get attacked.

The government planning to import terror suspects from Gitmo to a lockup in the heartland. Has the press given this decision proper coverage?

The president gives his past performance a B-plus. How did the media react?

He was a TV preacher, a pioneer and a lightening rod of controversy for the liberal press.

And Tiger's tailspin continues. But despite the troubling headlines, the Associated Press bestows a high honor. What were they thinking?

On the panel this week, Fox News correspondent, Douglas Kennedy; conservative columnist, Andrea Tantaros; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New America Foundation; and Newsday columnist, Ellis Henican.

I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, I-CONN.: If, as appears to be happening, the so-called public option, government-run insurance program is out and the Medicare buy-in, which I thought would jeopardize Medicare, cost taxpayers billions of dollars over the long haul, increase our deficit, is out and there's no other attempts to bring things like that in, then I'm -- I'm going to be in a position where I can say -- I'm getting to a position where I can say what I want today say all along, that I'm ready to vote for health care reform.

SCOTT: Senator Joe Lieberman this week saying what's needed to get his support in the health care bill if Democrats hope to move that bill forward. They need the vote of this former Democrat-turned-Independent to do it.

But the wooing of Lieberman didn't sit well with liberal Democrat Howard Dean, making headlines with his reaction on Vermont radio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Honestly, the best thing to do is kill the Senate bill and go back to the House and start the reconciliation process. You only need 51 votes and it'd be a much simpler bill.

SCOTT: All right, Jim, you have been following the health care debate very closely. On the political Web site, liberal blogger Jane Hampshire wrote, "Lieberman is going to take the blame for the shape of the final health care bill." She says that's not fair. What do you think? Did the press try to make Lieberman into the bad guy?

PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Well, any -- when you're this close, when you have absolutely a zero vote margin, then any one Senator, whether it's Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson on Mary Landrieu, could drive a pretty good deal for themselves.

Look, the liberal media was waiting to jump on Lieberman. They've hated him for years. Keith Olbermann called him a prostitute on his show on MSNBC this past week. I mean, they're going to clobber -- and Lieberman is obviously not afraid of the fight, but they're going to give him the fight he wants.

SCOTT: Douglas, here is what Kimberly Strassel wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Friday about President Obama and the health care plan. She wrote, "The president is demanding his party unilaterally enact one of the most unpopular and complex pieces of social legislation in history. Slowly, slowly the agenda is Democratic health agenda is turning into a suicide pact." Are the mainstream media still giving the president a free ride on health care?

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A free ride? I mean, not this week. I mean, he is getting pounded by both the -- by both the left and the right. I mean, mercilessly. You've got the Keith Olbermann turning against him and the right pounding him for weeks. I had an editor once tell me, if you're getting -- if you're making both sides mad in the stories you're covering, you may be doing a balanced job. We'll see with Obama.

SCOTT: Then why the rush? Have the media -- you know, there was this whole push to pass this thing before Christmas. Are the media -- is anybody in the media saying, hey, let's stand back and take another look at this thing?

KENNEDY: Politically, if you don't pass this thing quickly, I think it's going to go down. I don't think there's any doubt about that.

SCOTT: Ron Kessler of News Max, Andrea, was tough on the media this week. He said, "If the media had done the job the First Amendment envisioned for the press in 2008, Obama would not be president today." Can you switch that around? Apply it to the Democrats as well? I mean, if the GOP was fighting the way the Democrats have been this week, wouldn't that be front-page news?

ANDREA TANTAROS, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Absolutely. And I think the media is even quicker to jump on Republicans and Republican infighting because it's a good distraction for them.

But, look, the media here is still giving Obama a pass. One thing that they have not done is look at this bill and answer the simple question of why we're doing this. Have we ever had a real discussion of the people who are actually uninsured? Jon, in the media, right and left, you hear about the woman denied or couldn't get insurance. What about the people who bought the Porsche instead of insurance or the woman who is eligible for Medicaid, but didn't sign up? That's where the media has dropped the ball on why are we doing this.

SCOTT: I think that Ellis looked a little bit askance at you during that.

(LAUGHTER)

TANTAROS: I believe it. I believe it.

ELLIS HENICAN, COLUMNIST, NEWSDAY: Andrea must be focusing on a very different media than the rest of us. My, god, I mean, short of beating the man over the head with a rubber hammer, I'm not sure what the media can do. There's a fascinating story going on now, a debate inside the Democratic Party, a passionate debate. Do we settle for this thing that we don't like very much or do we hang tight with our principles and risk sending it down? That's a soul-searching difficult debate and the coverage has been dominated properly by that debate. But to call that free ride, gosh, I don't know how you can...

TANTAROS: But they won't answer why though. Why, Ellis. That's the question.

HENICAN: You oppose the policy, that's different, Andrea, from covering a passionate debate. That's what we want out of the media not just to beat up...

(CROSSTALK)

TANTAROS: But, Ellis, the majority of the media wants this bill. They want this done. They lean left and they want this bill done.

PINKERTON: But the last two points, my esteemed panelists made are illustrative of something. Ellis is quite right, the news, the fight is inside the Democratic Party, Ben Nelson versus Harry Reid, and so on.

But Andrea is also right. We should, every now and then, step back and say, what are we trying to do with health care? I started a blog called seriousmedicinestrategy.org, in which I make the point that both sides, right and left, are missing the real goal, which is cures. Who is actually going to eliminate these diseases rather than pay for them expensively over decades?

SCOTT: Time for a break.

We have lots of extras available to you on our Web site, including some of the sometimes heated debates that occurs in here during our breaks. You can hear that after the show at Foxnews.com/Foxnewswatch.

We'll be back in two minutes to talk about hope, change, and coverage of Copenhagen.

ANNOUNCER: Climate-gate isn't going away, even as the president hits Copenhagen. As the controversy over the truth heats up, is the press giving skeptics the cold shoulder?

Plus, the president gives himself a b-plus. How does the press rate his performance? All next, on "News Watch."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHELIM MCALEER, FILMMAKER: Those are these are very important questions. One of the biggest tax hikes in American history and world history.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: For God's sakes.

MCALEER: Excuse me, some environmentalists has just fired a (INAUDIBLE) at me.

CAVUTO: All right...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: All right, posing as a polar bear there, filmmaker, Phelim McAleer talking with Neil Cavuto, and pelted by a flying object tossed by an activist, who apparently did not agree with his efforts to find a key player in the Climate-gate scandal. He was in Copenhagen along with world leaders, scientists, and protesters, part of that U.N. conference on climate. And the press was there, giving lots of attention to concerns over global warming, maybe not so much attention to scientists thinking they were not right. The media seemed to call anyone in that group deniers.

Let's talk about it, Andrea. We just watched the guy get pelted because he doesn't necessarily agree with global warming and he wanted to ask questions about it.

KENNEDY: And dressed as a polar bear.

(LAUGHTER)

SCOTT: ... didn't like the costume.

KENNEDY: Well, you can't object to theater when you're dressed as a polar bear, can you?

(LAUGHTER)

SCOTT: All of those protests in Denmark though -- on NBC, there was a wild life photographer who told Ann Curry that the debate is over. Why is there not more outrage over trying to suppress debate?

TANTAROS: Yes, that's absolutely true. The protests that you have in Copenhagen have barely been covered in the media. and remember what the media did when there were protests here by the tea party, the tea party groups. They would demonize these groups and tried to delegitimize them, they're fake, it's (INAUDIBLE). They don't want to cover this, Jon, people's outrage. And the media is not doing a good enough job covering, is this really scientific data, do we really have this data. They didn't cover climate-gate. Fox News was one of the only outlets that went after, you know, is this just some sort of purported theory by scientists?

SCOTT: Newsweek's blog on Tuesday, Ellis, highlighted this week in conservative media, climate change denier in the spotlight, and went on to describe Marc Morano, a former spokesman for Senator Inhofe, who created the Web site Climate Depot earlier this year. Denier, is that an appropriate label to use?

HENICAN: Well, it's kind of accurate. I mean, there's some people who will deny gravity, right? My disappointment in the coverage maybe is a little different. I wish we could cover this thing as science and try to run the politics out of it. Because there are facts here. The climate is either getting hot or it's not. The ice caps are either melting or they aren't. It has practical, physical, really severe implications to us as a people. Why can't we expect our media to cover that debate and give a stiff elbow to the political people on both sides?

PINKERTON: Mostly, because we can't trust the scientists.

TANTAROS: Right.

PINKERTON: That's been demonstrated.

HENICAN: Would you rather trust the politicians on science?

PINKERTON: No, look...

HENICAN: That's a bad choice.

PINKERTON: If you mean between corrupt politics and corrupt science, I'll take neither. I'll say, let's just not throw our economy down the toilet, based on some theories. But meanwhile, the media are showing their bias more thickly than any other issue I can think of.

You mentioned the NBC report where a photographer, taking cute pictures of walruses and seals and so on, is there brought on as a climate expert saying, see, I'm taking a photograph of a seal, that proves climate change is real. We've got to do something about it. And then ABC News had Gordon Brown, the prime minister of England, talking about how we have to do something about the climate, and they cut in B-roll of floods and hurricanes and disasters and so on.

(LAUGHTER)

I mean, it's like they're making little movies in advancing their agenda.

SCOTT: The question is, who thoroughly understands the science behind global warming? The latest Fox News Opinion Dynamics poll says 79 percent say that scientists who study the climate understand it. 37 percent think that journalists who report on global warming understand it. And only 25 percent of elected officials are supposed to be getting it, according to this poll.

A pretty big gap there between the scientists and the journalists, Douglas.

KENNEDY: I'm not -- I don't pretend to understand. I'm not a scientist. I know the polar ice caps are melting. you don't have to be a scientist to know that the world is getting -- I can't believe there are still people -- I mean, I thought we had gone through this and, you know, gotten past -- actually, there's still people that...

PINKERTON: Actually, the rules...

KENNEDY: I don't think it's a -- that's objective reporting, right, to say that the world is getting hotter.

PINKERTON: That actually -- actually, it's inaccurate reporting to say that. The world has been getting cooler since 1998.

SCOTT: All right, we'll have to leave that one there.

(LAUGHTER)

You can watch a Fox News special, have some more information about it, "Global Warming or a Lot of Hot Air?" It's hosted by Bret Baier. That's Sunday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.

And it's time now for another break. When we come back, the president grades his own performance and we'll talk about his report card.

ANNOUNCER: Top terrorists get set to go to Illinois, but is the press ignoring the outrage over the plan for Gitmo in the heartland.

And Tiger's voted athlete of the decade? How did that happen? All next, on "News Watch."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATE MINORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: They're going to move these prisoners from Gitmo to northwest Illinois because of some campaign promise that was made in the dark. They're going to call for tens of millions of dollars to be spent to upgrade this facility in order to move those prisoners there. And I can tell you that I will not vote to spend one dime to move those prisoners to the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: House Minority Leader John Boehner this week speaking out about the White House decision to move terror suspects from a secure facility at Guantanamo Bay to a prison in Illinois.

What about that, Douglas, the fact that, you know, these prisoners are apparently going to be coming here if the White House gets its way? Has that gotten enough coverage?

KENNEDY: Has that gotten enough -- I think the big story was the fact that he's going to be able to close Guantanamo Bay. A year ago, when his presidency started, they said nobody's going to take these prisoners. Now you've got these people in Illinois saying, you know, we want them, we are going to get 3,000 new jobs.

(LAUGHTER)

This is -- I mean, this is an amazing story. It may be the biggest story of the year and nobody's covering -- this is going to be the end of Gitmo? It's pretty amazing.

PINKERTON: It may be the end of Gitmo, but as The Washington Post reported on it Friday, the real plan is not to move them to Illinois. It's to get them back to the Middle East. Almost half of the prisoners at Gitmo are Yemeni, as from the country of Yemen. And some of them are already going back. Of course, when they get back, they go free to go kill Americans again. That's somebody in his administration.

I think the real story here is the Obama administration...

DOUGLAS: That's the -- that's someone else's administration. I mean, I don't want to get into the politics of this, but, you know, this was started by George Bush, not following American ideals and putting people in prisons without trial?

PINKERTON: George Bush...

DOUGLAS: I mean, that's outrageous.

PINKERTON: George Bush had them locked up. Obama is letting them go. And we'll see down the road what happens when you put terrorists back into...

(CROSSTALK)

HENICAN: But the fascinating thing, this is the reverse nimby, right? This is, we're putting these prisoners into a community where they say, listen, you know what, we'll live up to our responsibility and, yes, we can hold them here safely. What a good story. It's a great story.

SCOTT: Another big story of this week, the president grades his first year in office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "OPRAH": What grade would you give yourself for this year?

OBAMA: A good, solid B-plus.

WINFREY: A B-plus?

OBAMA: Yes, I think that we have inherited the biggest set of challenges of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: Sitting down with Oprah for an interview, the president gave himself an above-average grade a B-plus. Do the media agree?

Ellis, that comment brought all kinds of attention from the media.

(LAUGHTER)

The Examiner Web site talked about President Obama's grade inflation.

HENICAN: It's a little bit like a restaurant critic giving someone three stars after the soup. I mean, it's early in the game. There's some positive stuff, some negative stuff. I think maybe he should have waited before he gave that letter grade.

SCOTT: Should the president have answered that question, Andrea?

TANTAROS: No, absolutely not. Look, where was President Obama when I was failing math class? I wish he were my teacher. Because he has such a skewered image. And you know what? The media, Jon, actually covered this fairly. They believed this grade was inflated, mocking him for giving this higher grade. And I tell you what, you can't fudge the number. The American people gave the grade, the lowest approval rating for a first- time, first-year president in history.

SCOTT: ABC liked it. They agreed with the B-plus grade.

(LAUGHTER)

TANATAROS: Well, no surprise there.

PINKERTON: Karl Rove said it well in the Wall Street Journal, a rookie mistake.

HENICAN: He has a special curve, doesn't he, between F and F-minus.

TANTAROS: Rookie mistake. Rookie mistake, rookie mistake and big ego. The numbers speak for themselves, Ellis: The American people don't think he's doing a good job.

SCOTT: One more story we want to get to, a man who pioneered televangelism. Oral Roberts died this week at age 91. Roberts touched millions through televised healings, but also attracted the critics for his methods and a somewhat extravagant life style, often a target of the liberal media.

Jim, his passing?

PINKERTON: I mean, from Elmer Gantry to "Inherit the Wind," this is the kind of figure that the liberal media despises the most. Plenty of people loved him, but he was certainly a polarizing figure.

SCOTT: He certainly drove a lot of people on the left nuts. Didn't he?

We have to take one more break. When we come back, finally some good news for Tiger Woods.

ANNOUNCER: Tiger's tailspin keeps the media's attention. And the Associated Press awards his actions. Details next, on "News Watch."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Tiger Woods's scandal is big business and not just for search engines and cocktail waitresses, but also it's given a much needed addition to the decorative-dish industry.

ANNOUNCER: The Tiger Woods scandal shows no signs of abating and the number of alleged mistresses continues to grow.

Hi, I'm Billy D. Williams. Now you and your family can grow with it, with the Tiger Woods mistress commemorative plate collection. Order now and each month you'll receive a hand-carved plate featuring one of Tiger's lovely liaisons, such as cocktail waitress, Jaimee Grubbs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: Late night comedy has plenty of fresh material thanks to Tiger Woods and all the media attention devoted to allegations of his extramarital exploits.

Now under the column of, "They Did What?" this week, the Associated Press named Tiger athlete of the decade, with more than half of votes coming in after the scandal broke. The judges considered only his performance on the golf course, with 64 tournament wins, including 12 majors, and having held the title of world's number-one golfer for most of the past 10 years. Apparently, morality, integrity and fidelity, not required to hold this title.

Should the A.P. have considered morality when handing out this award?

Let's get you take, Andrea.

TANTAROS: Well, I think being an athlete is a little more about how well you do on the field. I think it's about off the field, as well. I think the media though views this -- we joke about it -- but as a big business. That is why they put Tiger on the cover. That's why they -- let's be real, golf isn't that taxing of a sport, no offense.

(LAUGHTER)

SCOTT: Late yesterday, Tag Hauer, the Swiss watchmaker, is going to drop him, at least for the foreseeable future from its advertising. Has he been punished enough?

HENICAN: He is being punished pretty solidly.

Were you referring to athletics in the bedroom or out of the bedroom?

(LAUGHTER)

HENICAN: It's part of the purity of the sports page. And I have to tell you, I like it even when I hate it, is that you get judged on how you perform. Babe Ruth wasn't a great guy either, but he sure could hit a ball.

KENNEDY: Babe Ruth made people love baseball. Tiger Woods has changed the way Americans play sports.

You play golf, Jon?

SCOTT: Poorly.

KENNEDY: Poorly. I don't play golf, but many people do because of Tiger Woods. Lance Armstrong didn't make that many people cycle and Roger Federer certainly didn't make that many people play tennis.

TANTAROS: He also changed the way wives look at their husband's golf clubs.

KENNEDY: That's true. I'll give you that, Andrea.

(LAUGHTER)

SCOTT: We're going to have to leave it there.

That's a wrap on "News Watch" for this week.

I want to thank Douglas Kennedy, Jim Pinkerton, Andrea Tantaros and Ellis Henican.

I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for watching. Keep it right here on Fox News Channel and we'll see you back here next week for another edition of "Fox News Watch."

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