This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," April 10, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, HOST: On "Fox News Watch," President Obama takes a leap of faith on nuclear defense, and most of the press applaud his move.
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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The United States and Russia are part of a coalition of nations insisting that the Islamic Republic of Iran face consequences.
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SCOTT: But are the media shutting down the voices of concerned Americans?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE MANCHIN, D-W.VA. GOVERNOR: We have the worst scenario.
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SCOTT: Disaster strikes in West Virginia when a mine explosion kills dozens, raising questions of whether or not the media ignored warning signs.
Liberal storm trooper, David Shuster, gets iced at Peacock News for crossing enemy lines and working on a secret project on CNN. Is this his final strike?
It's been the main conduit of news from the White House to the American public. Now the White House Press Corps may be a remnant of the past due to administration side-stepping. Could this be good?
And Tiger is back on course. Are the media still taking shots?
On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor Judy Miller; conservative columnist Andrea Tantaros; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New America Foundation; and Newsday columnist, the legendary, Ellis Henican.
I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Together, we've stopped that drift and proven the benefits of cooperation. Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and nonproliferation and for U.S.-Russia relations.
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SCOTT: President Obama signing the biggest arms reduction treaty, the White House says, in 60 years, with Russian President Medvedev on Thursday. The news from Prague, though, was met by mixed reaction from the press. Take a look. In the Boston Globe, "A new start for U.S. and Russia"; the New York Times, a big handshake with the caption "Agreement on arms control"; and The Washington Times, "Senators voice doubts on nuke treaty."
Now the president has to try to convince the Senate and the American people that the treaty will, in fact, make the U.S. safer. And that's where the media push comes in.
So, Ellis, are you expecting a big invitation to the White House so the president can sell you on this treaty and try to push the Senate to ratify it?
ELLIS HENICAN, COLUMNIST, NEWSDAY: You know, that hasn't happened yet, Jon, but I'm ever hopeful. Why don't we say that?
Listen, I think it's good news when the media is addressing serious topics. It used to be that we felt a responsibility to cover things that were important, not just things that are titillating. This is not going to get great ratings. It's not going to be scarfed down by millions of people, but it's important we are going to be writing about it smartly.
SCOTT: We showed the photo earlier, Judy. This is the way it actually appeared in at least one version of the New York Times. But no big screaming banner headlines. This is an arms reduction treaty, by the way. After all, the biggest in 60 years or so, the White House says. And it didn't generate much of a buzz.
JUDY MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's because it's not that much of a departure, despite what the New York Times says, from the current nuclear doctrine. You had reductions of about a third. The hard stuff was really done by the two Bushes, where you brought the nuclear arsenal down by 50 percent. I mean, the lower you go, the harder it gets to cut. What's interesting is that it's — even though the White House wanted to spin it as a big deal, I don't think it is a big deal.
SCOTT: Jim, you're the historian here. Did the two Bushes get a big headline for that?
JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICAN FOUNDATION: I think arms control was a big deal in the Cold War era, but arms control agreement nowadays with the Russians, who aren't exactly what the Soviet Union used to be, and a treaty that doesn't bring up the topic of suitcase nuclear weapons, which is what we worry about in an era of terrorism, you only can rely on the dinosaur mainstream media, like David Mark at CBS, to talk about how historical this is, and George Stephanopoulos. They are the only ones trying to breathe life into the story and make it sound like an arms control treaty, even as the Soviets — the Russians are overthrowing an allied government in Kyrgyzstan, which NPR called a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia. Only CBS and ABC are going to say this is a big deal.
SCOTT: There seems to be, Andrea, disagreement about what this treaty accomplishes. A New York Times article says the new policy, "Creates incentives for countries to give up any nuclear ambition." Is that accurate?
ANDREA TANTAROS, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Well, I think there's a lot of confusion about what's actually in this treaty. I think there was a media piece that came out and said, Obama passes this supposed big deal, but the GOP yawns. It seems like the GOP doesn't even want to engage with the media on this issue.
And I think it was strategic for Obama to do this now. It was the year anniversary of the big speech he gave in the Czech Republic. And he knew that Congress was home in their districts with their media following that, so they really couldn't respond to this. I mean, I think the fact that the day after this happened, the cover of The Washington Post said, "Middle of the road," this is not a middle-of-the-road policy. This is not — I mean, what is the right or left, total disarmament?
SCOTT: After the battles in the media over health care, is the president happy to have something he can point to and say to the press, hey, we've got a victory here?
MILLER: Absolutely. This is national nuclear week, international nuclear week. We have a nuclear trifecta here. We have three major events. The START treaty, we have the big summit coming up. And this is really a big push coming on the health care victory. I think they want to create the appearance and momentum, and they've done it.
PINKERTON: Right, let's take what Andrea said about The Washington Post, yes, this is a middle course. Disarmament is for left wings loons and then there's deterrence. And to call — to call...
MILLER: Wait a minute.
PINKERTON: ...an unenforceable treaty...
PINKERTON: ...is The Post trying to frame Obama in the middle.
HENICAN: But, Jim, that's exactly what we want to avoid. We had that silly rhetoric from Sarah Palin the last couple of days, comparing this to some bully schoolyard. This is a serious topic that still does matter a whole lot to the future of the earth. We haven't really discussed it much for 20 years. And it's probably appropriate that we have some conversation about it.
TANTAROS: That Nobel Peace Prize, Jon, that Nobel Peace Price, I bring it back to that. Because they said they were giving it to him to pay it forward. This is a step to earn that Nobel Peace Prize.
MILLER: But most experts are saying this is a pretty good step.
MILLER: Even people who were in the Bush administration and praising this treaty.
PINKERTON: It's not a good step if it takes you towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. There's no way we can defend ourselves in the world without nuclear weapons.
MILLER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
MILLER: Schultz thought it was a good idea.
PINKERTON: He didn't mean it.
MILLER: Henry Kissinger thought it was a good idea.
MILLER: Oh, I see.
PINKERTON: They were just saying it to get nice articles in the New York Times.
SCOTT: I guess it depends where you are on all this though. The media in the — Poland and the Czech Republic were not exactly thrilled with it.
MILLER: Of course not. That's something he has to worry about. But we must look at the treaty. The language of the treaty says the United States intends to continue pursuing missile defense. That's something that the left wanted and did not get. This is really a straight down-the-middle treaty with very little that the left wanted.
SCOTT: One of the things that came out of this was the president essentially painting a target on North Korea and Iran, if they misbehave. Stephen Walt in Foreign Policy.com, writes, "Declaring that we reserve the right of first use against Iran now when it has no weapons at all sounds like a good way to convince that their own deterrent could be a pretty nice thing to have." Could this increase the arms race?
HENICAN: It could. And this is complicated stuff. Jim is right to this extent. The battle is not just the U.S. and the Soviet Union anymore. The stuff we're really scared about is what's up on eBay.
So after we deal with this, let's get on to the eBay.
SCOTT: Maybe it's time to think about opening up Yucca Mountain, to hide some nuclear waste.
Time for a break.
But first, do you want to know what our panelists have to say when the cameras are off? We keep them rolling here in the studio when the breaks are on. Go to our website after the show, foxnews.com/foxnewswatch.
We'll be back with more on the role the media played or didn't play in the West Virginia mining tragedy.
ANNOUNCER: It's the worst mining accident in over 20 years. As a pattern of safety violations and hazards come to light, has the press failed to raise questions about the mining industry?
And the media go gaga over Tiger's return to the green. All next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Four years ago, the Sago Mine disaster struck West Virginia, killing 12 workers. It prompted Congress to pass the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act. This week, more than two dozen miners died in an explosion at the Massey Energy Coal Mine, which has been cited for safety violations more than 1300 times since 2005. Two violations issued on the day of the blast. Why didn't the media follow up on mining standards in West Virginia?
Is this a story, Jim — sometimes I think that, you know, the media only descend on West Virginia when somebody like Jessica Lynch gets rescued or a mine blows up?
PINKERTON: Or when Robert Byrd cuts a ribbon for a new Robert Byrd building, public works.
Look, I agree there's a phenomenon here, a stereotype. It's like tornadoes in Oklahoma that get you there. But look, I think some perspective on this was needed. It was clearly a tragedy and it's unfortunate about the miners. But Joan Quigley, writing in the "Daily Beast," had a terrific, insightful piece on coal mining. And she made the point that one of the key issues in coal mining that makes it so dangerous is the work place changes every day as you dig through the seam of the coal. But she says that in 1907, there were 3,242 deaths in the coal mines. In 2009, there were 18. That's, you know, an enormous drop. Even with the tragedy in 2010, it's still gotten a lot safer. And that's worth keeping in perspective as we go for the unavoidable human interest of these families.
SCOTT: And miners know it's dangerous work. And their families know it as well.
HENICAN: That's true. Let's defend the concept of the news hook for a moment. It would be better if we kept solid long-range focus on issues like this. The fact of the matter is there are a million things to cover any week in the news. And most of us find ourselves rushing to stories where something dramatic just happened. And, sure, we are going to do mining safety stories over the next couple of weeks. And a month or two from now, we're going to forget mining safety stories and we'll be on, Jim, to your tornadoes or my hurricanes. And that's just kind of the way the news is.
SCOTT: Judy is shaking her head.
MILLER: No, only because this company is so notorious. Ten years ago, Michael Shnayerson wrote an extraordinary book, called "Coal River," documenting the repeated violations of this firm, and the head of that firm, John Blankenship. Year after year, citation after violation, nothing happens. Journalists don't pick up on it. If we don't cover the regulation of industries like this on the steady basis, what do we cover?
TANTAROS: But who is going to cover them? The journalism industry has shrunk drastically. So you look at the reporters that are down there, they're sending one guy with a camera crew, one string of reporters. Who is going to do this investigative work now?
And to your point, Ellis, you're absolutely right. If it bleeds, it leads. We know that. And even with this bullying case, we are going to talk about it a couple days, and then we're just going to move on.
PINKERTON: But there's a certain kind of bleeding, if you will, for lack of a better word, concentrated bleeding, an airplane crash or coal mine disaster. Look, almost a hundred people a day, in America, die from car accidents. Almost 200 people a day die from medical errors. And, you know, those are big stories. And there's — every ten years, somebody writes a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about some catastrophe there.
But, I mean, Ellis has a point in terms of there's a hook that lends itself to coverage like this mine disaster.
HENICAN: And, Jim, there's a class piece to this as well. If 18 political talking heads die dramatically every few years...
MILLER: In an airplane.
HENICAN: ...believe me, we'd have the talking heads safety out there, wouldn't we.
MILLER: We'd have all these pieces about airplane safety if they all went down on a plane.
But when you go down in a mine, despite the fact that Blankenship, the head of this company, rips the camera out of the hands of an ABC reporter, and says, don't take anymore pictures or you'll get shot, and everybody says, ho-hum, there Massey goes again. There's something wrong.
SCOTT: So, Judy, are you for the mountain top blowing off as opposed to deep mining?
MILLER: I'm not for strip mining. I'm not for this kind of mining. I'm for a company obeying the law and responding to citations for violations, poor safety records. Why is that so tough?
PINKERTON: So what should we do about energy?
SCOTT: All right...
MILLER: We can't have safe energy? We can't have energy that...
PINKERTON: I think some things are inherently dangerous or polluting, one of the two.
MILLER: They can be less dangerous if companies obey the law.
SCOTT: Getting between these two right now...
HENICAN: Very dangerous.
TANTAROS: Very dangerous.
SCOTT: First, if you come across a story that smacks to you of media bias, e-mall us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll be back on the future of the White House Press Corps.
ANNOUNCER: A liberal loud mouth is ousted at MSNBC.
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DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC HOST: You look at the image of the Republican Party, all white males with short hair cuts. They look sort of angry.
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ANNOUNCER: Is this the end of his obvious bias?
Plus, Team Tiger unveiled a new Nike ad. Did the press buy into it? Answers next, on "News Watch."
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SHUSTER: Bill, there's something a little unseemly to me that Chelsea is out there calling up celebrities, saying support my mom. And apparently, she's also calling the super delegates.
BILL: Hey, she's — she's working for her mom. What's unseemly about that? During the last campaign, the Bush twins were out working for their dad. I think it's great. I think she's grown up in a political family. She's got politics in her blood. She loves her mom. She thinks she'd make a great president.
SHUSTER: But doesn't it seem like she's being...
BILL: Michelle Obama's out there for her husband.
SHUSTER: Doesn't it seem like Chelsea is sort of being pimped out?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Well, remember that? MSNBC's David Shuster getting in a heap of hot water for that comment two years ago. And he apologized. Still, he was pulled off the air for two weeks. But an apology might not save him this time. The liberal host has been suspended indefinitely from MSNBC. Why? Because he filmed a pilot at CNN and apparently neglected to inform his bosses.
What do you think about that, Jim? Is that fair?
PINKERTON: Well, I can quote Phil Griffin, his soon-to-be ex-boss at MSNBC, who said about Shuster, "He was not moral, ethical or professional."
SCOTT: But as has been pointed out, I mean, CNN, presumably if it's going to groom — I'm sorry, MSNBC. If it's going to groom a replacement, is going to be auditioning people for his role.
MILLER: He was job hunting.
He was job hunting in a market that's increasingly harder to get a job in.
HENICAN: All of us in this business have an element of no compete clauses in our deal. And you have to find that you're living within those things.
HENICAN: And if it says you can't be doing a pilot across the street, you better not get caught doing a pilot.
MILLER: Did it say that — did it say that specifically...
HENICAN: I don't think any of us knows the answer to that.
TANTAROS: It must be, or they wouldn't have released him or suspended him. I mean, we hear of shock journalism. This guy was a shock journalist. Now he's not even a journalist. He uses pornographic words to describe tea partiers. He talked about Chelsea Clinton — you know — I think the one quality you must have — hold on — as a journalist is a filter, a very good filter and be incredible and reputable and loyal, like Judith Miller is.
She's the epitome of loyalty.
HENICAN: There's excessive filters in this business lately.
TANTAROS: Oh, come on. The Chelsea Clinton comment?
HENICAN: There's a lot of unfiltered stuff out there.
TANTAROS: I mean, as a true journalist, an unbiased journalist, he had to have one. And he didn't have one.
SCOTT: He was out there. That's for sure.
Let's turn now to the fate of the White House Press Corps. In this era of new social media networks, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, you can get the information from the president himself and his West Wing staff. And that's leading some to questions whether the White House Press Corps is even necessary anymore.
Are they on their way out the door, Judy?
MILLER: Well, you know, I don't see the hearse drawing up to the White House gates. I think they are there, despite this extraordinary alternative forum for the White House. You know, what — how many was it, 500,000 fans on Facebook, Obama has, 70,000 e-mail subscribers. I mean, yes, they can get their message out in a lot of ways. But I don't think the White House Press Corps is done. Obsequious? Yes, most of them, some of them, but not dead.
TANTAROS: But they're trying to kill them. I think there's a concerted effort on the Obama administration to bypass them. He's always out in the communities. He's always out campaigning. He doesn't like to ask and answer tough questions. We saw it with the Bret Baier interview. We saw it when he was asked a tough question at the town hall. He gave a 17 minute response on tax increases. This is a guy that doesn't like to be challenged. To their credit, the White House Press Corps challenges him.
HENICAN: Right, as is true of all politicians, right? Believe me, they will never put the good stuff on their Facebook page or their Twitter posts, no matter what party they're from.
PINKERTON: The question is whether the White House Press Corps will go digging into stories.
HENICAN: Let's hope. Let's hope.
PINKERTON: Or will they just be stenographers. As Judy said, she knows her fellow New York Times. She called them obsequious.
PINKERTON: But the real issue I think is new technology, which is going to empower all of us to have our own opinions and communicate them and not through the same old stale filter.
SCOTT: Can I have that?
Let's move on to WikiLeaks.
HENICAN: Was than an endorsement, by the way, a paid endorsement?
SCOTT: No, not at all.
WikiLeaks is the self-proclaimed whistle blowing investigative web site. On Monday of this week, it posted to the Internet a classified military video that it says shows a U.S. Apache attack helicopter going after Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists from 2007. But there are lots of questions about whether WikiLeaks used selective editing to tell the story.
Judy, it's my understanding that they made it a point to slow down the video that shows these two cameramen, but they don't slow down the video that shows people carrying rocket propelled grenade launchers.
MILLER: Nor do they show you the context in which the video was shot, which was of an ongoing action on the ground in that country, military fighting in which people away from the fight seem to be carrying weapons. I think that that kind of editing, out of the context, is a real problem for WikiLeaks.
SCOTT: Does it go to show the danger of unfiltered Internet journalism?
PINKERTON: It does. It also goes to show you who you trust and don't trust. Now, Matt Armstrong, who runs a blog called mountainrunner.us, makes the point that the rebuttal to this WikiLeaks thing was yanked from YouTube by Google and YouTube. This is an ongoing story, but if the proponents of this story get their story out and the opponents get censored, that's a bad thing.
HENICAN: And it's the great cacophony of democracy. When the military keeps secrets, Judy, civilians and journalists will step forward and reveal stuff. Then we can criticize the editing and give rebuttals. But this is important stories and we ought to be talking about them.
MILLER: We are talking about them.
SCOTT: We have to take one more break.
When we come back, Nike's weird welcome back to a shamed Tiger Woods.
ANNOUNCER: Tiger's new Nike ad hits the airwaves. Did it hit the right note with the press? That's next, on "News Watch."
SCOTT: In case you didn't see it, Tiger Woods officially returned to golf this week after a whirl-wind week of press conferences, new ads with sponsors, and yet, another woman added to a long list of alleged mistresses.
On Monday, the golf great spoke to the news media for 35 minutes, acknowledging he made poor decisions in his personal life. He says though, he thinks he can win the Masters after a five-month break.
On Tuesday, he made an effort to interact more with the crowd during his practice rounds after getting a scolding from the Augusta National chairman for not living up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.
On Wednesday, his biggest sponsor, Nike, released a stark black and white TV ad showing a solemn Woods looking directly into the camera while the voice of his dead father is heard speaking about responsibility.
Then, it was tee time on Thursday and Tiger was back in the swing of things and better than ever, breaking his own records.
That Nike ad caused a lot of talk. They only ran it for a day on a couple of relatively small channels. Yet, it got more buzz than just about anything else this week.
TANTAROS: Yes, it was a great P.R. strategy for Nike and Tiger. It's interesting. Men have totally different opinions on the ad than women do. Men think this ad was gripping and powerful. Women think it was creepy and disgusting. I say enough already with the Tiger Woods. Let him play the game. We've heard enough from him. Now, this is just using the media, using Tiger, and hurting his family to make money.
SCOTT: Take a swing, Ellis.
HENICAN: Jon, I was going to compliment you, if you don't mind.
What a nice summary of Tiger news you gave. I notice it had 47 interesting chapters in it. The guy may be a sleaze bag, but he is a great story that I think a lot of people are still interested in.
SCOTT: And bringing in his father, too, no question. Really.
MILLER: Over the top. Over the top. Tiger, just shut up and swing and don't bring dad into it.
The redemption through selling shoes, I don't buy it.
SCOTT: That's a wrap on "News Watch" this week.
Thanks to Judy, Jim, Andrea and Ellis.
See you next week.
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