The following is a transcription of the December 9, 2006 edition of "FOX News Watch" that has been edited for clarity.
ERIC BURNS, HOST: Time now for our "Quick Takes" on the media:
Headline Number One: Untruthful?
Former President Jimmy Carter has a new book out about Palestine. Carter's longtime aide, historian Kenneth Stein, says, in effect, don't read it! — It's riddled with untruths and inaccuracies:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH STEIN, FMR. CARTER CENTER EXEC. DIR.: We know each other very, very well. I've briefed him on numerous meetings, interviews. There's enormous respect that I have for his body of work as president, and his body of work as a former president.
But that doesn't keep me from criticizing him for writing a book that I think that's historically inaccurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNS: Not just criticizing him, but he quit his position at the Carter Center.
Appropriate to do this on the air, to use the media, if they're such good pals?
NEAL GABLER, MEDIA WRITER: Of course. Why not? I mean, I also think that Stein is protecting himself with the American Jewish community. So, yes, I think it's perfectly appropriate.
BURNS: Which will not like the views.
GABLER: Exactly. But here's something.
BURNS: ...in Carter's book.
GABLER: .I think is even more interesting is the media angle.
Jimmy Carter in an op-ed piece he wrote says, "Book reviews in the mainstream media have been written mostly by representatives of Jewish organizations who would be unlikely to visit the occupied territories" — people who are criticizing his books. So he's criticizing book reviewers for being too Jewish, which I think is very odd.
JIM PINKERTON, NEWSDAY: And he's also selling, apparently, a fair number of books.
I mean, look, Carter has heated up the rhetoric. He was president for a while, and Israel — he was never Israel's favorite president, but he wasn't like this. And then he wrote another book on the Middle East. And now he's written this one.
This is a pretty hot title. He is going for headlines.
HALL: I think he is going for headlines, and I think, I haven't read the book, so I don't know. But if he's revisiting history and he's got maps that belong in another book, which is another charge against the book, maybe he should have stopped at a book — a few books ago.
THOMAS: Yes, that was pretty much a point I was going to make. And Carter's pretty much enjoyed a free ride on the Middle East because of Camp David and the great media celebration of that. I think it's time to confront him a little more about the content of his ideas.
BURNS: And it's time for "Quick Take" Number Two: "Lost and Found"
It's been awhile since a missing-persons story really captured the media's attention. Perhaps not since Natalee Holloway. But it happened this week as Internet journalist James Kim, his wife and two children were lost in the Oregon wilderness. Kim was found dead a couple of days after his wife and children were rescued.
Jim, the reason for so much attention to this story this week?
PINKERTON: I think first of all this is the human drama. This is a reality show playing out on our televisions.
There were also a few sort of strange high-tech angles. They "Mapquested" their way across— to get from point to point. They were using satellites to do surveillance for them. I mean, they're just things that sort of grabbed the media's attention — they were using airdrops of food to try and find them — that people found as good hooks.
THOMAS: This is a story that we almost never see anymore: a heroic man who is willing to sacrifice - put his own life at risk for the sake of his wife and children.
BURNS: Right. He left his wife and children to go look for help.
THOMAS: It's a "Titanic" moment, if you will. It is a man willing to lay down his life and risk his life for his wife and daughters. This is something you don't see in the major media very often anymore.
GABLER: It's also a "there-but-for-the-grace-of-God" story.
THOMAS: Yes, that, too.
GABLER: And everybody identifies with this story.
HALL: I think what's been said is true, and I think people did identify with it. I think it was — he was an attractive-looking person. The photographs of the family were just tragic. And then when you had the police officer who broke up announcing they had found him — he was so invested in it, that I think everybody could identify with it, and in some sad way, it was refreshing to have it be about a man, a father, as opposed to some murdered young woman, if you're going to talk about this in that way.
BURNS: "Quick Take" headline number three: "Obama Should Run"
Actually, that is not our headline; it's The Chicago Tribune's, which this week urged Illinois Senator Barack Obama to run for president.
Here's why: "When a leader evokes the enthusiasm that Obama does, he should recognize that he has something special to offer. Not in 2012 or 2016, but right now."
OK, Neal, it's not officially an endorsement. They don't say...
BURNS: ...they're supporting him. But isn't it extraordinary? It's almost two years before the election.
GABLER: Well, you know, they have to be somewhat suspicious when a Republican newspaper - and other the Republicans, David Brooks has weighed in on this as well — are actively promoting the candidacy of Barack Obama. And the reasons — one of the reasons they're promoting it, by the way, is they say it's a great experiment in race relations.
Well, let me tell you first of all, I don't think that when you run for president, it's an experiment in race relations.
And number two, I'm not sure that this is going to be a successful experiment, which is one of the reasons I think the Republicans are promoting it so actively.
PINKERTON: I do think that Obama represents a new kind of demographic phenomenon, this sort of partially, partially black — Tiger Woods and Obama both sort of represent sort of a hope for a kind of a synthesis on racial issues and a kind of reconciliation.
However, I think the "Tribune" is getting a little bit out front on this. I mean, Obama is a young guy; he's only been in the Senate for two years. It's a little, shall we say pushing the envelope, to say, OK, now you should run for president.
BURNS: But your view on why a Republican newspaper is pushing the envelope?
PINKERTON: I'm not sure the Tribune is the old — this is not the "Tribune" of the old days, with Colonel McCormick, by a long shot in terms of...
GABLER: That's true.
PINKERTON: ...in terms of ideology. I think a lot of it is home state boosterism. And let's face it, he's an Illinois senator. Why wouldn't they want to have him to cover?
BURNS: But why couldn't they wait a few more months at least, Jane?
HALL: I think they wanted to get out front, and the media are stampeding to cover this guy. So that means you've got to really go out front.
I mean, the [recent] Time magazine cover story [on Obama] — I think the media, and the Republican commentators, have decided that, you know, Hillary can't win.
THOMAS: There you go.
HALL: ...and he's a fresh face. And on this network, it gives an opportunity to beat up on Hillary while talking about him, which is always useful for some commentary.
THOMAS: Politics is the closest the media can come to believing in religion. Politics for them has become a religion. You have your messiah figures. You have your disciples. You have your holy writs and all of the rest. And for them, he is the great African-American hope — somebody to come in with a great personality.
If you read his book, the first part of the book is fantastic — about common ground. He's been out there seeing the best-selling author, the pastor Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose-Driven Life." Got a lot of criticism from the right on that, by the way.
But if he can bring this off, this kumbaya, common-ground, consensus business, he may get in.
GABLER: Yes, but let's be honest now: Republicans now he can't win. And that's really what this is all about.
GABLER: Yes, exactly. Exactly.
HALL: But he's probably also running for vice president. We know that, too.
BURNS: So for Franklin Roosevelt, it was "Happy Days Are Here Again." For Barack Obama, it would be "Kumbaya."
THOMAS: Well, I'm waiting for The New York Times to tell us who the best Republican candidate would be. Then we'll know that it's fair and balanced.
GABLER: I'm looking for that, too!
THOMAS: Yes, right.
BURNS: Jim, anything at all to you..
GABLER: Brownback, I think.
BURNS: Anything at all to you distressing or at least disproportionate about all the talk there's been, not just about Obama, but about Hillary Clinton and John McCain so far? I don't ever remember this much talk about a presidential election this early.
PINKERTON: I think that there's a — since 1980 at least there's been activity about election two years beforehand. So I actually don't agree that it's earlier than usual this time.
I think the Obama thing is different, but I think Hillary and McCain have clear cognates, and Reagan and Mondale and others.
BURNS: There has to be a point in every show where you disagree with me.
We have to take one more break...
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