This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 19, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Freshman Republican Senator Ted Cruz is getting a lot of attention lately here in Washington. The New York Times had a big spread about the senator and all of the attention he is getting with a big picture there in the elevator in there. The quote, "Last month, Mr. Cruz faced off aggressively with Senator Charles Schumer of New York on a Sunday talk show. When Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago wrote to the chiefs of big banks urging them not to invest in gun manufacturers, Mr. Cruz followed up with letters criticizing the 'bullying' of a political 'godfather.' After she raised specter of McCarthyism, Ms. McCaskill" -- Senator McCaskill from Missouri -- "was asked if she had spoken to Cruz about her concerns. Quote, "I'm not sure it would do any good," she said, "Do you?"

We're back with our panel. What about this, Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, look, Ted Cruz came to Washington, he made a conscious decision that he was going to accept the very public role he was certain to have being an outspoken conservative from Texas and a Hispanic when he got to Washington.  It was different. It's a different course than Marco Rubio took, it's a different course than Hillary Clinton took. So to a certain extent you have to expect that he would get greater scrutiny given the fact that he has chosen to accept that role.

What is funny about the scrutiny though is how over the top harsh it is. These New York Times articles, it's not really worth talking about Chris Matthews, but, you know, there has been a systemic effort I think to go after Ted Cruz, to marginalize him, to make him look crazy.  And here's the thing that I think most conservatives see when they look at Ted Cruz -- they want somebody in Washington who is willing to sort of disrupt the old order. The problem with Washington is the way that it's operated for so many times. So if you have a senator who comes in and challenges some of these conventions, I think most conservatives, myself included, we think that's a good thing.

BAIER: Mara, there was a lot of conservatives in the beginning of Sarah Palin, before she had some tough interviews there, at the beginning believed that the media had it out for her and thought there was a derangement syndrome there, that they were kind of focused on the fact that it was a successful conservative woman. Here is a successful conservative Latino -- Hispanic lawmaker. And are we getting in derangement syndrome with Ted Cruz?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I don't know if that is the case yet. First of all, he has taken a high profile role. I don't think any of this coverage bothers him one bit.  As a matter of fact I think it's good for him. It makes him even more well-known and branded. He has followed the kind of Rand Paul model of a freshman senator, not waiting in line, not keeping his head down, just going for it.

And I think that the one incident in the Hagel hearings, that was, I think, a little shocking when you suggest that someone might have taken money from foreign governments before you know whether they have or not, but other than that, he has given it right back. I don't think there have been any gotcha interviews with Senator Cruz. He is totally able to defend himself, he is doing exactly what he came to Washington to do, and he's getting a lot of attention.

JASON RILEY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, WALL STREET JOURNAL:  I think there is something of a double standard here, though, in the coverage, once again in the coverage of liberals versus conservatives. Ted Cruz wants more financial records from Hagel. He is one of 24 senators who asked for more financial records. Last week, freshman Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts spent time berating her Republicans colleagues for calling for more transparency in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Where are the articles about her sharp elbows and not playing nice with her colleagues while she's supposed to be –

LIASSON: Oh, they are coming. I am sure.

RILEY: -- building bridges and so forth?

Ted Cruz, Texas knows what they were getting. He is behaving as he campaigned. They elected a senator, not a lemming. He takes his advise and consent role seriously.

HAYES: Indeed, the New York Times coverage of Elizabeth Warren, the furthest they would go is to call her acerbic. But they complemented her for being as aggressive as she was.

RILEY: She's fighting the good fight.

BAIER: We will talk more about this, I'm sure, in days and weeks ahead. We have some breaking news now. We have just learned that Georgia death row inmate Warren Lee Hill has in fact been granted a stay of execution just minutes before he was scheduled to die. The 11th Circuit Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals issued the temporary stay just minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to do so. We reported that earlier in the show. His lawyer argues Hill is mentally disabled and should not be executed. Again, this is a temporary stay. We'll follow this story.

That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see the marriage of two big stories this week.

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