'Fox News Watch,' March 27, 2010

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," March 27, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JON SCOTT, HOST: On "Fox News Watch... "





SCOTT: Euphoria in our nation's capital as the Democrats' health care bill becomes law. And the mainstream media lead the cheering session.

Leaders on the left oppose opponents of the plan, blaming them for threats and violence. And the left-leaning press takes its cue and hammers the right. Are the mainstream media nothing more than a liberal tool?

The vice president does it again.




SCOTT: Marring the presidential bill signing with an F-bomb. And the two-faced media let it slip.

Tiger Woods gives the press a few minutes of his time. Was it worth it?


REPORTER: Were there moments you thought you should stop, but didn't?



SCOTT: ABC News gets an "F" for ethics after paying an accused killer for video of the victim.

And what message does this guy have for the president?

On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller; syndicated columnist Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New America Foundation; and Newsday columnist, Ellis Henican.

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

President Obama, surrounded by Democrats and other supporters in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday, signing into law the health care bill. There was lots of cheering there, and the day before, a lot of cheering in the press. USA Today, "Victory for Obama in historic House passage." Washington Post on Monday, "Democrats claim health votes." Boston Globe from Monday, "Historic yea on health." In the Philadelphia Daily News, "Passed at last. The New York Daily News, "Historic."

It seems, Cal, that for the year that Washington has been arguing about this health care bill, the press has been arguing that it ought to be signed into law?

CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: No question, Jon. There's kind of a haiku going on between the Democrats and the media. The Republicans have never, ever been able to figure out how to win the media war on this. The Democrats constantly come up with the sob stories. You remember there was the woman who had to take the dentures from her dead sister. They had the kid whose mother couldn't get care and lots of boohooing going on. And meanwhile, the Republicans are talking about budget busting and drug companies and the rest. They just don't get it. Democrats clearly won the media war.

SCOTT: Here's another one. Here is the Boston Globe from Wednesday, "Law signed with pride as foes work to undo it."


SCOTT: Those Neanderthal fauxes, Ellis.

ELLIS HENICAN, COLUMNIST, NEWSDAY: Jon, just because you say something in a loud, baritone, doesn't mean that's the way it's written. Jon Scott, our host today!


Listen, this is a big political achievement. This thing was fought for 13 months. I understand, Cal, you don't like it, but it was a huge victory for the president. A lot of people, including a couple of my brother panelists, predicted it would never, ever, ever happen. And hello, you've got to cover it. It seems like a pretty big story to me.

JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: To be fair to Ellis and to defend his point...


...consider the Reagan tax cuts of 1981, and the giant positive headlines that those generated.


PINKERTON: People said Republicans have been fighting for tax cuts for 50 years and they finally got it. And the New York Times and the Boston Globe were so, so, happy.

SCOTT: With the Democratic Congress, it might be added.

Then this. On Wednesday, the mainstream media's attention was diverted from the euphoria surrounding the health care bill and its passage to reaction from opponents. Reports that some House Democrats who voted for the health care bill had reported threats or harassment. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Chris van Hollen tried to tie the violence to the GOP, saying, "These guys are united together. This is now the face of the Republican Party. They have not taken responsibility. They have not led by example. No denying the fact that they are stoking the flames here and that's all the mainstreamers needed."


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Would you say that this incitement from the Republican leadership is criminal? I mean, seriously, if people are going to have windows thrown bricks at — if their lives are threatened, if we're going to have criminal behavior resulting from their incitement, is the incitement itself criminal?


SCOTT: The one-sided reaction from the press got one Republican to face the cameras and the accusations.


REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-VA.: I have deep concerns that some, DCCC Chairman van Hollen and DNC Chairman Time Cane, in particular, are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting — suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon. Security threats against members of Congress is not a partisan issue and they should never be treated that way. To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible.


SCOTT: Overlooked in all of this, Jim, was a statement from the House sergeant at arms saying, there is no information that either reflects an increase in threats against members, their families or staff or any specific threat or action being contemplated against a specific member of the office. Why the overreaction to this?

PINKERTON: Because they're hunting for a narrative. And if you look at a bunch of data points, you can pull together the data you want that support your arguments.

Look, I worked in the White House for six years under two presidents. There's a constant stream of threats, whoever the president is, whichever party. If you say, here is a threat, here is a threat, here is a threat, and you can put that on the news, you can get a story out of it, especially if the media is eager for the story so they can poison the opposition.

But Cantor is 100 percent right. There's a steady drum beat of threats. There's a lot of crazy people in this country and it's irresponsible to pick some of that out and try and call that a trend.

SCOTT: There are a lot of crazy people on this panel, I might add.


THOMAS: Speak for yourself.

SCOTT: But it did seem that the reports of threats against Republicans were not reported very much.

JUDY MILLER, WRITER AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, they were reported. They were reported. But most of the threats seemed to be coming from the disappointed right and the frustrated right, against Democrats, against people who had voted for this bill, who had made it possible.

I think, you know, some of the commentators said, all right, enough, let's step back and say we need a little more civility. But this is very American. This goes on all the time.

THOMAS: Let...

MILLER: As Jim says, it's gone on in previous administrations. To blow it out of proportion is also not good.

On the other hand, remember, this kind of talk does lead to incitement of violence. And we do have to step back and say, let's be civil.

THOMAS: ...let's put it into proportion. Bart Stupak, when the pro- choicers were calling his office and threatening him, that never got on the news, but when he flipped from the pro-life side to sign off on the president's bill with the cover of the executive order against abortion, then the pro-lifers started calling in, supposedly pro-lifers, threatening him and that made the news. There's a double standard there. When the left does it, no problem.


SCOTT: Is there a double standard, Ellis?

HENICAN: They're only supposed pro-lifers, I guess, in the violent situations, right?

Listen, here is the reality. All of us who work in public life get stuff that's kind of threatening and often kind of ugly. That's part of doing business in the public media today. Politicians get it. Media folks do it. If you doubt it, I'll share my inbox with you.


SCOTT: All right.

Time to take a break.

But first, you can go to our web site after the show if you'd like to hear what happens on the set during our breaks at Foxnews.com/Foxnewswatch. Some interesting discussions erupt in here.

We'll be back in two minutes — two minutes with more on health care and the media.

ANNOUNCER: Obama care passes on Capitol Hill. The V.P. props the prez.


BIDEN: This is a big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.


ANNOUNCER: And the right gets accused of violence by the liberal press.

Plus, a muzzled media locked from the Masters as Tiger controls his press. All next, on "News Watch."



BIDEN: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.


This is a big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.


SCOTT: Vice President Biden there with a message to the president. It wasn't actually captioned on live TV, fortunately.


It was a little something picked up by the microphones and picked by the press.

I guess the question, Cal, is, you know, his potty mouth at one of the biggest bill signings in recent history gets treated more like it's just a joke than something more serious.

THOMAS: Yes, who does he think he is, Dick Cheney? I mean, after all, gee, politicians cuss. Who knew?


Look, I mean, there is a double standard on this, because when Dick Cheney used the word in a private conversation, he thought, with Pat Leahy, Senator from Vermont, and that was leaked, then it was another indication of his crudity, his meanness, his evil. But with Biden, yuck, yuck, yuck.

SCOTT: And when former President Bush said something about a New York Times reporter, and I believe it was — well, I guess it was Cheney.

THOMAS: It was Adam Clymer.

MILLER: Adam Clymer.

SCOTT: It was Adam Clymer, but it was Vice President Cheney who actually made the remark to the president and sort of got a nod of agreement from the president. That was a big deal in the press.

MILLER: Oh, come on. This is Joe Biden. All you can say is there he goes again, and people make exceptions. He's had a tough week. In Israel, he had been embarrassed and humiliated. Comes back, it's a great moment — he didn't do it intentionally. The microphone was on. Give him a break.


PINKERTON: Yes, let's give Biden a break. Everybody knows that former Vice President Quayle made mistakes and the press gave him a complete free ride.


Everybody remembers that.

HENICAN: Why on earth — why on earth is anybody — we are all grown ups. You've heard these words, as have most of our 6-year-olds.


THOMAS: That's a double standard then.

HENICAN: Oh, be quiet.


THOMAS: It's a free country. It's the First Amendment.

HENICAN: Why on earth is anybody put out by it? This is the way people talk in America. It would be lovely if we didn't. And I remind folks that we do.

PINKERTON: A fair number of Americans would misspell a word or say an awkward thing, like Dan Quayle or Spiro Agnew, and they got creamed for it.

HENICAN: Were you shocked by it?

PINKERTON: No. The issue — I'm not shocked.


PINKERTON: Ellis, unlike you, I think there's a double standard. I think that Biden gets a free ride and Agnew and Quayle would have been clobbered.


MILLER: I think when people say things that are mean and nasty and when they say these things, they get called on it. And if they're liked and well regarded by their peers, they don't. It's not as much ideology as it is personality.

SCOTT: Another example, Ellis, the president misspelled Syracuse in filling out his brackets this week. The president, this is our Harvard Law School graduate president. Dan Quayle added an "E" to potato and was pilloried.

HENICAN: I'm glad to be at the last table in America where no such words are spoken. I promise to perform...

THOMAS: Not on the air anyway.


I never say potato on the air?

MILLER: Potato.

SCOTT: Back to the issue of those threats, though, Judy, the broadcast networks led with the stories of threats against, you know, Democrat supporters of the health care bill. It seemed like it was very much driven, you know, from the Democratic side of the equation.

MILLER: Well, because, because most of the threats seemed to come from the right. I mean, that — the bullet through the window, which now turns out to be somehow unrelated to any anger and an accident, that was a...

PINKERTON: Now, Judy, you're a skilled reporter. Think of the two things you said, the threat, the bullet through Eric Cantor Republican's window seems to be unrelated.


But most of the threats to the senior — against Republicans, those are two statements, neither of which you can prove. And you're saying them, helping feed the narrative, which is that the Republicans are the bad guys.

MILLER: Jim, I'm simply saying what the capitol police said. And I was kind of surprised by that, but that's what they said.

PINKERTON: OK, but the bullet went through Eric Cantor's window, not a Democrat's window.

SCOTT: And at the same...

MILLER: I'm sorry.

And Democrats were spat upon, so...

THOMAS: There's no video of that. That's total hearsay. Look, when Nancy Pelosi...

HENICAN: Supposedly, in the crowd.

THOMAS: ...went through the tea partiers, it was like — what shall we analogize this to — the march through Skokie, Illinois, by the Nazis? It was deliberately provocative. They wanted reaction.

SCOTT: And Ellis?

HENICAN: Yes, Jon?

SCOTT: Ann Coulter was trying to speak in Canada. That got canceled because of the threat of violence. That wasn't conservatives going on a rampage.

HENICAN: No. Listen, I'm in favor of people speaking, no matter what crazy thing they've say, even Ann Coulter. I think she could...

THOMAS: I think she could be quiet.


HENICAN: She has every right to speak. And even you, even you.

THOMAS: Even me. OK, thank you very much.

HENICAN: I'll extend it that far.

SCOTT: All right, time for another break.

First though, if you come across a story that smacks to you of media bias, e-mail us at newswatch@Foxnews.com.

We're coming back to discuss the ethical problems at ABC News.

ANNOUNCER: ABC News sacrifices credibility when it writes a check to an accused killer.

And Tiger Woods gives some time to the press, but was the time worth it? Answers next, on "News Watch."


SCOTT: This is footage from an exclusive interview ABC News ran on September 5, 2008. The story was about Casey Anthony, the woman accused of killing her young daughter, Caylee. Because of a lawyer's statement under oath in a Florida courtroom, ABC was forced to admit that it paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars for the rights to air family photos and home video, money that Casey Anthony spent on her defense attorneys. The images ran on "Good Morning America" and a special edition of "20/20."

Judy, you're shaking your head. What's going on here?

MILLER: Well, the worst of checkbook journalism. It's reprehensible. It should never happen. And I guess ABC is taking all the money that it's not paying all those reporters that it's fired, and it's paying the accused murderer of a child. That's really reprehensible.

SCOTT: There wasn't much reaction to this in the press when it came out. And it was admitted in open court that they had spent that money. Why?

HENICAN: It seems like a good story to me. And I have to tell you, I'm with Judy on this. I work with news organizations that don't permit me to do that, and I never have. Although, I do have to say that I've had sources over the years approach me and say, Ellis, you're being paid, the editors are being paid, the photographers are getting paid, and how come I can't be paid? I've never had a fully satisfying answer to that question.

SCOTT: Well, ABC defended its position, essentially saying, well, we didn't pay for an interview. We paid for pictures and for video.

THOMAS: Well, I think the reason there hasn't been a greater reaction is sort of like, if you went to a talk by Madonna on virginity.


There wouldn't be a whole lot of point to it. Ethics and journalism are almost contradictions anymore. And the public doesn't trust the politicians. It doesn't trust big media. Nothing surprises them.

PINKERTON: There wasn't a big reaction because Fox didn't do it. If Fox had done it, we would have been creamed. You know, but this actually does support my hope that the National Enquirer finally gets its day in the sun, as a great journalistic outlet, which it is, having broken the John Edwards story. Because they do pay, and make no bones about it. And now the distinction between ABC and the National Enquirer has completely collapsed.

SCOTT: Let's keep up with a conversation about ABC, talking about that network's new pick to host the Sunday talk show this week. After a major shuffle of its on-air personnel, ABC gave the job to former CNN international reporter, Christiane Amanpour. She replaces George Stephanopoulos, who now hosts "Good Morning America."

Let's see, George Stephanopoulos used to work at the Clinton White House. Christiane Amanpour is married to Jamie Ruben who used to be the spokesman for the State Department in the Clinton White House. Is there a pattern emerging here?

PINKERTON: It certainly makes you think because nobody in Washington, including Tom Shales, the Washington Post, well known Pulitzer Prize- winning TV critic, thinks she's a good choice. For me, this is like Keith Olbermann pulling Rachel Maddow in behind him because they're friends as opposed to somebody really thinking this is going to get the most eyeballs.

SCOTT: Is she the right woman for the job?

MILLER: Paul Krugman thinks she is. And he defended her in his column today saying, look, she actually knows about things like foreign affairs and...


PINKERTON: Paul Krugman goes on ABC News. He goes on their show. She used to be his boss.

THOMAS: That's exactly right.


HENICAN: Whatever her sins are, it's not who she's married to. Is she beautiful enough for television, you could argue that. Is she experienced?

THOMAS: Don't look at me.

HENICAN: Well, I know you judge people on that basis.


Listen, seriously, judging people in the media by who they're married to is not fair to any of our spouses.


PINKERTON: No, that wasn't...


PINKERTON: Ellis, that wasn't what Jon asked and it wasn't what I was asserting. I wasn't asserting — the point is nepotism in the Clinton family is what got her the job. That's the argument.


THOMAS: If ABC really wanted to get some eyeballs on the show, they would have hired somebody who is a moderate conservative. There's no difference between a female and a male liberal. They're all liberals. They all think the same and they're going to get the results.

SCOTT: Let's move on to a man who controls the media better than anyone, Tiger Woods.


REPORTER: You've been a master of control your entire life. How did things get so out of control?

TIGER WOODS: Going against your core values and losing sight of them. I quit meditating. I quit being a Buddhist. And my life changed upside down. I felt I was entitled, which I'd never felt before. And consequently, I hurt so many people by my own, you know, reckless attitude and behavior.


SCOTT: Tiger Woods in one of his first interviews on the Golf Channel since his public apology last month. He also talked to ESPN. Each was only allowed five minutes and agreed to other restrictions by Team Tiger.

Now, CBS was also offered the chance to talk with the golf great, but declined, saying, "Depending on the specifics, we are interested in an extended interview without any restrictions on CBS."

Score one for CBS, Ellis.

HENICAN: Indeed, the hard-hitting investigative organization, the Golf Channel, I guess, taking this.


SCOTT: Would you have taken the interview with restrictions?

HENICAN: No, and you saw the clip. They didn't get very much, did they?

MILLER: But Tiger Woods got a lot out of it. Another segue, another chapter in the perfectly managed reentry of Tiger Woods. I mean, it is an astonishing performance.

SCOTT: We know that he's not meditating anymore.



THOMAS: No, I think that CBS was right. And once you go down that road of allowing your subjects to control the subject — and by the way, he's not alone. Hillary Clinton used to do that on "The Today Show." And her aides would call up and say, OK, she's not going to talk about this and this. And if you ask the questions, she's never coming back. An old game played for many years. But good for CBS.

PINKERTON: Ari Fleischer, the crisis-management guy, former Bush press secretary, earned his pay.

MILLER: No, he had to go.

SCOTT: He left.

MILLER: He left because it looked as if Tiger's reentry to respectability was being stage managed. Imagine that.

PINKERTON: Imagine that.

SCOTT: And we have to go as well. Time for one more break.

When we come back...

ANNOUNCER: What, me worried? Mad's Mr. Newman has a message for the president. That's next, on "News Watch."


SCOTT: How does the White House react to public opinion? It could depend on the day of the week, the weather, the position of the moon, the topic, or how the poll results fit the president's talking points. But how does the White House react to this? Mad magazine is writing off Obama, so says the D.C. comic's web site. But it seems that President Obama has taken his own cue from Alfred E. Newman when it comes to low job approval numbers and the GOP threat in November. "What, me worry?" says the president.

Of course, Mad has taken other shots at other presidents, George W. and Bill Clinton and, of course, Jimmy Carter, to name a few.

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

Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Ellis Henican.

I'll be passing this around at the end of show.

I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for watching. Keep it right here on Fox News channel.

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