This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," April 3, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETCHEN CARLSON, GUEST HOST: On "Fox News Watch..."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: ...a bunch of bunk that the media is trying to feed you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Sarah Palin takes on the media attacks against her and the tea party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, TALK SHOW HOST: We have people on frankly your cable channel saying hateful things about conservative commentators and politicians. And I say more speech not less.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Laura Ingraham slaps NBC for one-sided reporting.
And the liberal press turn up the heat on the Obamacare opposition. Where's the balance?
The pope celebrates Holy Week as the New York Times and others try to nail the pontiff to sex scandals of the past. And the Vatican fires back.
Putting his sex scandals behind, Tiger forges ahead to the Masters. Will the press tag along?
And a tormented teen takes her life and the media tell her sad story. But is the coverage helping to right the wrong or inflame the blame game?
On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller; syndicated columnist Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New America Foundation; and National Public Radio news analyst Juan Williams.
I'm Gretchen Carlson. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: When we talk about fighting for our country, let's clear the air right now on what it is we're talking about. We're not inciting violence. Don't get sucked into the lame-stream media's lies about conservative Americans standing up for freedom as inciting violence. Violence isn't the answer. It's a bunch of bunk that the media is trying to feed you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Sarah Palin telling the media to get it right about the meaning of her call to arms. Something NBC News ignored when they aired a report by correspondent George Lewis, tying Ms. Palin's energized appearances to the death threats aimed at congressional members who voted in favor of the health care bill.
Laura Ingraham followed that report on the "Today Show." She gave Matt Lauer a lesson in fair and balanced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: Matt, can I just say something. George Lewis' report — and I love George Lewis. I think he does a great job. How do you go from Sarah Palin giving a speech, to saying, did she rile up the people too much, and then talk about death threats? I think that kind of reporting really is what drives people crazy about the dinosaur media.
MATT LAUER, HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": Well, there have been some people who say that some of her comments and some of her graphics that she's used over the last couple of weeks have perhaps incited some people and maybe...
INGRAHAM: Yes, I know they say that.
LAUER: ...and maybe misrepresented her thoughts. And she cleared it up herself. Why wouldn't you connect the two?
INGRAHAM: Why wouldn't I connect the two? Well, for the same reason that the media didn't connect the film, "The Assassination of George Bush," to any threats against the president. Look, free speech is supposed to be alive and well in the United States of America. Condemning violence...
LAUER: And it is.
INGRAHAM: ...condemning vandalism, absolutely, we all do. but to say that Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement is responsible for vandalism or threats is just a way to dismiss the American people and their dissatisfaction with this health care bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So, Jim, I'm going to turn to you first. It seems that the mainstream media has been on sort of a rampage the past week to tie Sarah Palin and Tea Partiers to violence, do you agree?
JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I do agree. And I don't think it's an accurate assessment of either Palin or who's driving the opposition to the health care bill. The CBS poll — it must have killed them to release this — shows that by 34 to 53, the American people support — oppose the health care bill. So 34 percent support, 53 percent oppose. USA Today and Gallup show that a plurality or a majority, depending on the question, of the American people think the Democrats are to blame for the harsh and divisive discussion, the Democrats. This is USA Today and Gallup, so that's three major polling operations all showing that the majority is with Palin and against Matt Lauer, et al.
CARLSON: Cal, at the same time, at a DNC fundraising memo, this is how they were referred to: "narrow-minded nut jobs and vile, two-bit wing nuts."
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes.
CARLSON: Are you kidding me? Now, wait a minute. Does it not help the Democrats to actually have a Tea Party movement?
THOMAS: It does. But look, it's all about policy, Gretchen. If there's a Republican president in office and liberal Democrats or people of that persuasion are demonstrating against that president, then it's patriotic and it's the price we pay for a healthy First Amendment. The Wall Street Journal on Friday ran a picture of one of the demonstrations. The demonstrators had a sign that said, "Dissent is Patriotic." However, when the thing is flipped and conservatives are demonstrating against the Democrat president, that's inciting. It's inciting violence and it's horrible and we're all wing nuts. Double standard.
CARLSON: I want to take a look at what Bill Maher had to say, he is a well-known liberal, and he had this to say to Jay Leno about his thoughts about the Tea Partiers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER: I have to say I thank the tea baggers.
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": The tea baggers, OK.
MAHER: Any tea baggers here tonight?
They're the ones that got it passed. And I'm sure you're saying what are you talking about, Bill? I was so against the health care bill I marched on Washington with tea bags hanging from my hat and dressed in my founding father costume, with a picture of Hitler and Obama's face on it and screaming about his birth certificate. And Americans say that and said what loons, we are going with a calm black man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Juan, what is it about the Tea Partiers that gets people like Bill Maher and other people in the media so up in arms?
JUAN WILLIAMS, NEWS ANALYST, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, you know, it's an overwhelmingly white, older crowd in the Tea Party. And you do hear — I mean, some of the signs that you see are the ones about Obama being a communist and these pictures of Obama as the joker or a Nazi, stuff that you say is repellent, just repellent, and you wouldn't want to be associated with it.
Now, is that the heart and soul of the Tea Party? I don't believe so. I think that the Tea Party — this picks up with what Jim Pinkerton was saying. If you look at the numbers, it's overwhelming. USA Today had a front-page story this week about the number of people who say the country is headed in the wrong direction, people who think they can't trust government. That's the heart and soul of the Tea Party movement.
But now, hang on a second, because there are fringe elements of the Tea Party movement that I think are involved or contributing to some of the very negative rhetoric and prevalence of that rhetoric in the country today. Here I'm talking about people who are threatening governors, we've been hearing about just at the end of last week. We're talking about people who are cutting gas lines to a congressman's house because he voted for the health care bill.
CARLSON: Yes, but that went both ways. In all honesty, it went both ways, Democrats and Republicans. My question is...
WILLIAMS: Wait. How does it go both ways, Gretchen?
CARLSON: There were threats going to both political parties.
PINKERTON: Hold on, Juan, just to answer your question, there was a thrill to kill Eric Cantor that some loon put on YouTube. I mean, that's — that was the highest profile...
WILLIAMS: Because he was Jewish. Because he was Jewish.
THOMAS: What's the difference?
WILLIAMS: What I'm saying is, that's not — that's not related to what we're talking about here with the Tea Party and fringe elements of the Tea Party, using rhetoric, talking about cross hairs, don't retreat, reload. That incites some angry people.
THOMAS: Weathermen, Black Panther party...
CARLSON: I want to bring Judy in, though.
I want the media's perspective on this. Do you believe that the media then focuses on those fringe elements that Juan is talking about to give the perception that that's what the whole Tea Party movement is about?
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think it does. The media tend to focus on the fringe, but the fact — the mainstream and non- mainstream Republicans felt compelled to denounce that kind of behavior on the part of people who follow them, and it says something about where the threat was coming from. Or the fact that AP did not retract the story that at least 15 chants were heard on the floor — in the demonstration.
CARLSON: Which was never proven.
MILLER: So I think that Barack Obama actually has it right. He says that the Tea Party movement is an amalgam of forces, some of whom are ideologically opposed to them. He did not say the race of those people. And he said others who have genuine concerns about the deficit, growth of government spending. Those are the people he says he wants to work with.
WILLIAMS: And I agree with you. And I don't think there is any way to get around what I saw on Fox News, which is a person who identified themselves as a Tea Party member, using a gay slur against Barney Frank or a Republican congressman on the floor calling Bart Stupak a baby killer. That's harsh language, inciteful language. And I'm glad that people are taking responsibility.
PINKERTON: And there was a fair amount of harsh language on the other side, too.
And, Judy, your point is by...
CARLSON: On that harsh note, I'm going to cut you off, Jim.
But you get first dibs right after this break.
A lot is said here on the set during the break. You can eavesdrop after the show by going to foxnews.com/foxnewswatch.
We'll be back in two minutes with coverage of the pope and the church sex scandal.
ANNOUNCER: Accusations of abuse within the Catholic Church make headline as the media connects the pope to the scandal. And the Vatican fires back. Is the coverage fair?
And the liberal media go gaga over the RNC's connection to a California strip club. All next, on "News Watch."
CARLSON: Pope Benedict XVI celebrating Easter week in St. Peter's Basilica. But this holiest time of the year, the Roman Catholic Church is being forced to confront sex abuse scandals of the past and fierce media coverage, among them, a New York Times article from Friday, March 26th, by Lori Goodstein, titled, "Warned about abuse, Vatican fails to defrock priest." And an editorial titled, "The pope and pedophilia scandal."
The Vatican responded with a long statement from the Cardinal William Lavada, who is an American. "I'm not proud of America's newspaper of record, the New York Times, as a paragon of fairness. Both the article and the editorial are deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that every American has every right and expectation to find in their major media report. I ask the Times to reconsider the attack mode about Pope Benedict XVI and give the world a more balanced view of a leader it can and should count on."
The negative coverage continued all week. This column by Maureen Dowd, on Tuesday, titled, "Should there be an inquisition for the pope"? And an article in Newsweek called "The Bad Shepherd."
All right, Cal. Did the New York Times, did Newsweek, did Maureen Dowd, did they all go too far?
THOMAS: They weren't the only Catholics writing about this. Peggy Noonan had a very good column in Saturday's Wall Street Journal in which she said — she actually praised the New York Times in this case and in some others, the media do a good job of forcing the Catholic Church, or any institution, political or religious, to confront some of its inner darkness.
I thought Lori Goodstein's piece was very well researched. I didn't think it had a hostile angle. And this is in a newspaper that is openly hostile to everything the Catholic Church stands for, from pro-life to contraception to married priests. I thought it was a pretty good piece. And I think it's forcing the Vatican to deal with something it needs to deal with.
CARLSON: So, Judy the pope has become the media's target. Is it coincidence it's during Holy Week?
MILLER: That's what one commentator suggested, but I'm struck by the fact that another commentator in The Atlantic said, hey, what do you do when you're in trouble if you're a politician? What do you do if you're Richard Nixon? You blame the media. And that's what the Catholic Church is doing. Blame the media for doing its job and reporting on abuse cases that the church should have taken care of a long time ago. 18 years is a long time for the vindication of Sinead O'Connor, but she's finally gotten it.
CARLSON: So, Jim, when it comes to the media coverage, is there a bias to the Catholic Church?
PINKERTON: I think there's a complete bias.
Judy, when you say vindication of Sinead O'Connor, do you mean tearing the picture of the pope in half?
MILLER: She was suggesting that there was tremendous abuse in the church that was not being addressed by the church itself.
PINKERTON: OK. I mean, I'll just go with the New York Daily News, which was a rare, fair-minded voice on this, and said fairness for the pope reminds us that he was not at fault in the Wisconsin case. Cardinal Ratzinger was in Munich in 1974 when the case in Wisconsin erupted. It was settled in the '90s when — I mean, Ratzinger was nowhere near authority on these kinds of issues until 2001.
I think this — the loving detail that the New York Times poured into this, page after page, exhibit after exhibit, Web site after Web site, on all of the stuff, just proves how gleeful they are on this. And it is — the worst you could say was that the Catholic Church was deficient in the '90s. And Peggy didn't praise the New York Times. She praised the Boston Globe.
PINKERTON: The Boston Globe won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002.
CARLSON: I want to get Juan in here.
PINKERTON: She didn't praise the New York Times in this latest outburst.
CARLSON: I want to get Juan's opinion about whether or not you feel there's been balance in the coverage?
WILLIAMS: No, I think, in fact, when I look at the coverage, it's very interesting to me. When I looked at it and looked at the criticism that had come from the Vatican, they made some legitimate points about the reporting. Specifically, whether or not, Cardinal Ratzinger, now the pope, was in a position of responsibility to blunt some of the cases. They said that's not the case, he wasn't there until '01. Then, you could say he was in position as part of the larger hierarchy of the church to not respond more quickly. But in terms of taking actual action, you know what, when he begins to review the cases, he's one of the healing forces in the church.
CARLSON: Very important.
WILLIAMS: And that's not portrayed.
Final point, I'm all with the victims. I can't imagine being subjected to that kind of horror. And I appreciate the press being an advocate for those who have been voiceless for so long.
CARLSON: Very interesting discussion.
Time for another break. But first, if you come across a story about media bias, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll be back with this.
ANNOUNCER: Who do Americans trust more when it comes to global warming claims, this guy or your local TV weather person?
One of Tiger's gal pals tells her tale and more. Has the press failed the fairness test with the world's best golfer? Answers next, on "News Watch."
CARLSON: A question for you. Who do you trust more when it comes to climate control: The guy on the right or the guy on the left? A recent study by researchers at Yale and George Mason University found that 56 percent of Americans trust their TV weather reporters to tell them about global warming over former Vice President Al Gore, at 47 percent, and the mainstream media at 36 percent.
Judy, every weather forecaster across America should frame this report and put it in their office.
How could it be?
MILLER: That's it. It explains why so many Americans still think there's no such thing as global warming. If your local weather person says it, half of whom turn out to be — have no advanced training in meteorology, no wonder the country is confused. I found it a great study and kind of depressing.
THOMAS: The same media who attack religious faith embrace the secular faith of global warming. There is no information that will deter them from their worship of the earth.
PINKERTON: Although, there is a great crisis of the faith. Der Spiegel, the German magazine, asked, is it really the case that the world will end if the temperature goes up one or two degrees? And the answer, of course, is no.
CARLSON: Now on to a story that has been red meat to the liberal media. The Republican National Committee released a report this week detailing where they spend their money, everything from limos and private jets to, well, a bondage-themed strip club featuring simulations of lesbian encounters. Although he wasn't part of the action, the press called for the head of RNC chair, Michael Steele.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: What do you think it would have been the heat level if had turned out the Democratic National Committee had been spending money on a lesbian, bondage-themed club and they dropped a couple of K in the middle of the night with a bunch of young — god knows what — staffers that seemed to pay — enjoyed spending somebody else's money on this stuff. Is Michael Steele getting off easy or is this a big problem or what?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: All right, surely an embarrassment, no doubt, for the RNC.
But, Juan, the press take time to smack down Republicans. Do they do the same for Democratic issues?
WILLIAMS: I think so. This came out — by the way, a conservative group, The Daily Talker, which is a new conservative Web site, were the ones who revealed it. It wasn't like it was some liberal attack on the Republicans. No, it was a revelation found in accounting. So it wasn't as if they were just trying to pick a fight because it's a conservative group.
PINKERTON: I think you mean The Daily Caller.
WILLIAMS: Yes. That's what I — I'm sorry.
PINKERTON: Listen, Tim Mak, that's M-A-K, writing for Frum Forum, found that that the Democratic National Committee spent $5858 on a nightclub called Josephine, where they have pole dancers.
And I don't think I heard the same amount of outrage over spending three times as much from the Democrats.
CARLSON: I've got to get a woman's point of view in here — Judy?
MILLER: I'm not going to touch this with a ten foot pole.
CARLSON: Thank you.
CARLSON: A story we've been covering all week here on Fox, the suicide, unfortunately, of Phoebe Prince. She was this 15-year-old high school student who committed suicide because of constant bullying by other students at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts. Let's look at how the media do in covering this tragedy?
All right, Cal, how did they do?
THOMAS: Well, look, there's great reticence to do anything on these kinds of stories. Everybody is afraid. They've dismantled the playgrounds because they're afraid of lawsuits from parents if the kid gets hurt. Administrators and teachers don't like to step into things, not only because of their own fear of physical safety, but because they also fear lawsuits. So everybody has a hands-off attitude and that includes a lot of the media that don't get into the stories until after the fact.
Juan, your take on this? What was the media's role?
WILLIAMS: Well, the media, at this point, I think, is coming in after and doing a clumsy job. Just know how to handle this. Don't know to exactly tell the story.
CARLSON: In what way?
WILLIAMS: Because this is about someone who was emotionally distressed. It is not rational to commit suicide. Even if you, Gretchen, start calling me bad names, I'm not supposed to kill myself. But this went on for three months. And as they go back and dissect the story, they are trying to apportion blame. And I'm not sure how you do it. Yes, some girls were mean to her and some kids picked on her. Is that really a link to someone committing suicide or does that person have pre-existing emotional problems?
CARLSON: The prosecutor in that particular area felt it was criminal. Now kids are under indictment.
But my question to you, Jim, is whether or not the media is righting the wrong or are they doing what Juan is saying and pointing the finger of blame.
PINKERTON: I think it's an unbelievable human interest story and I don't fault the media for covering it. But I want to associate myself with what Cal said about the lawsuit angle. The administrators and teachers are terrified of lawsuits, as Philip Howard has argued in various books. And now, of course, there will be another lawsuit.
MILLER: This is another problem that's been around forever. The media have written about it. Nothing seems to change. I think the media, looking again at it, is long overdue again. But I don't know it's going to make any difference whatsoever.
CARLSON: All right.
Up next, a big media event happening in the coming week. What am I talking about? Tiger, folks. He's returning to golf. Oh, yes, and the media will be there, too.
ANNOUNCER: Tiger is headed to the Masters, and most of the media is locked out. That's next, on "News Watch."
CARLSON: It's been nearly five months since Tiger Woods' last public appearance on a golf course. Late in November, he wrecked his SUV and the sordid details of his secret sex life were exposed in the press. But the golfing great is set to go public again at the Masters this coming week.
At the same time, you have this new Vanity Fair amazing article. Oh, yes — oops — oh, guys, don't take too close of a look.
This is one of Tiger's temptresses who is exposing all in the photo and also telling all in this article.
So does this have anything to do with the press continuing with this story, Judy, time after time again? And will it stop now that he is back to golf?
MILLER: It won't stop. It will get even more intense. As long as we have women parading themselves in front of cameras, bragging about the fact that they slept with Tiger Woods, I know we're going to — it'll continue right into the Masters and the Open. And there goes golf. If he place well, I'm sure all will be forgotten.
CARLSON: Jim, what I'm interested in also is whether or not the media dropped the ball on the story as far as source collecting. Did they just go with what the tabloids were saying? Or did the more reputable news organizations actually check their sources?
PINKERTON: I'm sure they somewhat checked them. This girl and her nude centerfold speaks for itself. You don't need much journalism here to get — figure out what's going on.
PINKERTON: And whether Tiger Woods wins or loses, this story is going to continue for a long, long time, for exactly that kind of reason. I even predict it will come up again on "News Watch."
CARLSON: I'll look forward to that.
All right, Cal and Juan, real quickly, Tiger is going to have a press conference on Monday. Credentialed press will be able to be there.
Is this right or wrong as far as how the media is going to handle this, Juan?
WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know what you mean by right or wrong. Yes, they'll be there.
CARLSON: But it's only credentialed press?
WILLIAMS: That's fine with me. I think people should be credentialed because you don't want it to become a shouting match. I mean, the big issue to me is whether or not they ask real questions of Tiger Woods and we start to get some real answers.
CARLSON: Will they ask real questions, Cal?
THOMAS: No. I think they will hold their fire. I think the whole redemption story is a great story. Americans love that. Nobody is going to ask him about threesomes.
CARLSON: That's a wrap with that thought from Cal.
Thanks for watching "News Watch" this week.
Thanks to Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Juan Williams.
I'm Gretchen Carlson. Thanks so much for watching. Happy Easter, everyone. Keep it right here on the Fox News Channel. We'll see you again sometime soon.
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