Media already begin to rule out top presidential contenders

Why the predictions are often not realistic


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 12, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: This just in, rule Rick, Ted and Rand out. To hear Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post tell it, those three don't stand a chance if they run for president in 2016.

But to hear Pat Caddell and Monica Crowley tell it, the media ain't no winner when it comes to picking winners.

And, Monica, I was reminded first and foremost what the mainstream media was saying about someone who turned out to be a hero to them early on, John F. Kennedy.


CAVUTO: And I want to go back in time here, so back to JFK.


CAVUTO: Look at this.


PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: Contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I'm the Democratic Party's candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic.


CAVUTO: Now, headlines were bemoaning not only his Catholicism, but that he was young, inexperienced, and that, as much of them personally loved him, he stood no chance at hell of getting elected.

CROWLEY: Yes. American political history is littered with examples of the mainstream media getting these things wrong. They said Jimmy Carter had no chance. They discounted Bill Clinton. They discounted George W. Bush. All went on to have successful careers.

CAVUTO: Right.

CROWLEY: Meanwhile, on the flip side, so many candidates that the mainstream media loves and starts promoting early on, they go down in a ball of flames. And they often get it wrong even when the race is ongoing the way they did in 2008, when everybody was backing Hillary Clinton.


CAVUTO: You're right about that.


CAVUTO: But, you know, she mentioned Bill Clinton, sort of the modern-day hero of the left.

And I can remember headlines of him running in 1992. Between his affairs and everything else, as we show some of these, he didn't have any chance at all, and he was going up against a very popular incumbent. So he was political dead meat, and then he became the president.

PATRICK CADDELL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, can I say something about that?

These things -- sitting in The Washington Post newsroom and writing things like this is the last place on earth to understand presidential politics, where it is about shaping the future. The challenge for all of these candidates is at the unique moment in history, which it is, because we have not only a non-incumbent election. We have a new -- something is going on. The country is dissatisfied. If the Republicans run these candidates, run as traditional candidates, they will lose.

But you know what? If you looked at Iowa, the speech on -- I'm telling you, the call for an insider. Someone like Reagan, Carter, someone will find a big definition in the future -- Donald Trump, who people -- some people disparage, but let me tell you something, got a standing ovation, because you know what he said differently? I was reading the news accounts. And she didn't even mention what he said. And what did he say? We need to be a rich country again, so we can afford to keep Medicare and Social Security, which have no money. That is a whole new message about being great. Somebody...

CAVUTO: But I think what is lost...


CAVUTO: No, I think you're right on.

But, Monica, I think what is lost in some of the message-making is that we as journalists seize on whatever the polls are saying. If you went with that in 2008 early on, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton vying for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, you would buy the existing polls that showed Barack Obama had no chance in hell.


CAVUTO: Then, as time ensued, you would sort of say, uh-oh, we now have to change our mind.

So I always think these things are based on a snapshot and a moment and then they're snapped and shot.

CROWLEY: Well, and it's also a little bit of a chicken-and-egg problem...


CROWLEY: ... where the mainstream media wants to create a conventional wisdom, but they think that they're reporting a conventional wisdom.

Mainstream media also loves a personalize politics. And they also love a horse race. So they try to create a horse race long before the actual...


CROWLEY: Long before anybody has cast a vote.

CAVUTO: Or kick the dog they always hated when he's down. Richard Nixon in 1962 comes to mind. You would think after this, he was finished, and the media after this made sure that they got this right in the headlines the next day to prove he was finished, 1962.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I leave you, I want you to know -- just think how much you're going to be missing. You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.



CAVUTO: Well, they got that wrong. It wasn't. He came back six years later to become a president.


CAVUTO: So, right or left, Pat, my only point is, be careful making snap statements.


CADDELL: Look, presidential -- these people are so into whatever their dinner conversations are at cocktail parties and dinners in Georgetown.

What they don't understand is that presidential politics is about shaping the future. Barack Obama, whether you liked it or not, had a message at a moment when people wanted to hear hope and change.

CAVUTO: Well, there was a case though where media glommed onto a new flavor.


CADDELL: Right, a new flavor. They did glom onto him. But everyone said at this point, Hillary has got it wrapped up. It's all over.

CAVUTO: Right.

CADDELL: This is -- presidential politics is about making -- about the future and not the past, and it's about who can shape the moment if someone can. And this is a wide-open race for that. And right now...

CAVUTO: But you wouldn't dismiss the three The Washington Post dismissed, just out of hand?

CROWLEY: No, not at all.

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum, I wouldn't dismiss any of them. Three-and-a-half years is an eternity in presidential politics. Sometimes, three-and-a-half minutes can be an eternity in presidential politics.


CADDELL: Or New York politics.


CROWLEY: And, look, the closest thing to a sure bet in politics right now -- the closest thing to sure bet is Hillary Clinton. If she decides to run, then I think you can pretty up go out on a limb and say she would clear the field, walk away with the nomination and likely the general.

CAVUTO: I disagree with that.

CADDELL: The Republican...


CROWLEY: You do?

CAVUTO: I disagree with you.


CAVUTO: Well, go ahead, Pat.

CROWLEY: Go ahead. Go ahead.

CADDELL: No, I'm just saying, I think the moment is, no one has shaped this moment. She cannot run as the candidate of the conventional what is going on now.


CAVUTO: So, she's not a given?

CADDELL: It's not a given. It's somebody...

CAVUTO: Monica, you're just arguing she's hard to beat right now.


CADDELL: Oh, for the nomination, she's...


CROWLEY: Well, remember, remember, she has two tsunamis of goodwill coming at her, neither of which are deserved. One, she was humiliated by her husband. Two, she was humiliated by Barack Obama. Both of those men went on to become president. She did not. People want to make it up to her. She will also be the first woman running.


CAVUTO: That's assuming everyone wants to make it up to her.


CAVUTO: I will leave you -- guys, I wish we had more time.

I will leave with this, going way back to 1948, when this gentleman was given up for political dead meat.

CADDELL: Dead meat. Gone.

CAVUTO: I want you to remember this image and just -- just frame it in your head, Harry Truman, who didn't have a chance in hell. Apparently, he did.

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