This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," August 1, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
RICK FOLBAUM, FOX GUEST HOST: On FOX "News Watch," time for a brewski, as the president's beer summit grabs headlines. Was this staged for the press?
Sarah Palin quits as governor. Will the media quit using her as a punching bag?
TMZ breaks all the news on Jackson. Why are they so far ahead of the others?
Which network gets the gay award? And should we care?
And Katie Couric takes on the New York Times, but why?
And on the panel this week, Maria Guthrie, programming editor for Broadcasting and Cable; Andrea Tantaros is a conservative columnist; Jim Pinkerton, fellow at New American Foundation; and New York Post columnist, Kirsten Powers.
And I'm Rick Folbaum. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
FOLBAUM: "Brew-haha," "happy hour," "the audacity of hops," and "a cure for what ales us"? — some of the headlines the morning after the beer summit at the White House. Howard Professor Henry Gates and Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley sipping suds with the president and the vice- president there. The meeting two weeks after Gates was arrested by Crowley following the "acting stupidly" comment from President Obama, a scenario that kept the attention of the media.
And Sergeant Crowley talking to the press after the beer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. JAMES CROWLEY, CAMBRIDGE POLICE DEPARTMENT: I think what you had today was two gentlemen agreeing to disagree on a particular issue. I don't think that we spent too much time dwelling on the past. We spent a lot of time discussing the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOLBAUM: So, Jim, this controversy got a lot of attention in the press, almost knocked the president off stride or actually did knock the president off stride when it comes to the health care debate. Did the Crowley comment, which a lot of people thought was a generous statement afterwards, did that sort of put the story to bed?
JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I don't think it did because it — the narrative of this story didn't have a satisfying conclusion, where — to the media and to the public frankly where somebody says I apologize, we're best friend. They left it as he said, agree to disagree. That will only make reporters curious as to how both Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley see this issue in the days, weeks, years ahead.
FOLBAUM: Kirsten, Professor Gates has a web site and he posted a statement on his web site, and we'll look at it real fast and I'll get you can comment on it. And here is what Professor Gates had to say after. "The national conversation over the past week about my arrest has been rowdy, not to say to say tumultuous and unruly. But we've learned we can have our differences without demonizing one other. There's reason to hope that many people have emerged with greater sympathies for daily perils of policing, on the one hand, and for the genuine fears about racial profiling on the other hand."
So, then we hear from Professor Gates here. Has he sort of helped to end this story as far as the media is concerned?
KIRSTEN POWERS, NEW YORK POST COLUMNIST: The media loves this kind of story so maybe they will keep doing it, but I think they did a really extraordinarily bad job with this story. And the reason for that is there have been a couple of columns about it, but the reporters didn't pursue what I thought was the main story when it happened. It's not against the law to be rude to a police officer. And at the end of the day, he kind of tricked Professor Gates into coming outside so he could turn it into a domestic disturbance problem. But people should have been asking, separate from race, why is a person being arrested just for being rude to the cops? Because I think a lot of people have had experiences where that has happened to them, regardless of their color. And it's completely missed. It was all about racial profiling and race issues and how people saw each other, without the actual constitutional issue underlying this.
FOLBAUM: Well, the president's comments, Andrea, as we mentioned at the top, when he said the police officer, the arresting officer acted stupidly, that, of course, helped to drive the story and make it a much bigger story than it might have been otherwise. I'm wondering if the beer summit, so carefully choreographed for the media cameras, if it achieved what the White House hoped it achieved.
ANDREA TANTAROS, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: I don't think so. I think it was turned into one giant joke. It might have been more legitimate if Obama lit up a cigarette. And Joe Biden's presence there, and talk about stupid things, he says things when he's sober. don't give the guy a gear. I think the media took it hyperbole. You had one network that had a beer summit countdown clock and made it joke out of the issue. I think a serious issue, was that Obama, it was the first time he really came out of his from behind the teleprompter, and he's so scripted, and said something off the cuff that was very stupid. He didn't have all the facts. And he didn't apologize. And I think they just perpetuated the story that was bad for the White House. And it turned it into, like you said, very carefully scripted, and I think just comical. I don't think there was any lesson learned.
FOLBAUM: We should mention that the vice-president's beer was nonalcoholic. He says he doesn't...
TANTAROS: There's a reason for that, I guess.
FOLBAUM: Now, Marisa, the woman who made the 911 call — and her name is escaping me a minute — but she...
PINKERTON: Lucia Whalen.
FOLBAUM: Thank you very much.
This is the culture we live in where even the 911 caller had to have a media handler who comes out and helps her to orchestrate a press conference these days. But it was probably a good idea because everybody want today hear from the woman. And she claimed that she was a victim with the media calling her racist. And her mother came out and said, now, was she the biggest victim in all of this?
GUTHRIE: I think she wanted to be invited to the beer summit too. And she wasn't — I can understand how a private citizen would all of a sudden feel a little bit uncomfortable with the media attention focused on them, but the fact is that, you know, the Cambridge Police said that, you know, that the report they got was that an African-American was breaking into a house and see never she never said that.
FOLBAUM: She never said that.
POWERS: What if she had, who cares? That was strange. He is an African-American. what would be wrong with reporting that you saw an African-American? I mean, it's like, have we gotten out of control that you can't report someone's race in a 911 call?
PINKERTON: You're right. In Cambridge, you're so P.C. that you're afraid to say it.
What I can't help but think about, as I thought about the story the last two weeks, is what would have happened if there hadn't been the press uproar over this? Sergeant Crowley would have had a miserable life in Cambridge. Professor Gates, Harvard University, NAACP all would be clobbering him. And the media would be pounding away at racist rogue cops and so on and so on. And it's only in this case the media, really the conservative media that saved Sergeant Crowley and law enforcement from being...
POWERS: This is an abuse of power. What are you saying...
PINKERTON: You see that. I don't see it that way.
POWERS: It was an absolute abuse of power.
TANTAROS: There was no abuse of power whatsoever. The guys was just doing is job.
POWERS: The guy is in his house. And he's being rude to a cop and he lures him outside so he can then arrest him for domestic disturbance. That's an abuse of power.
PINKERTON: You can commit a crime inside your house.
POWERS: He did not commit a crime. It is not against the law to be rude to a cop.
POWERS: You cannot be arrested for disorderly conduct inside your home. You cannot. That's why he asked him to come outside, so he could arrest him. He was mad at him for him being rude and calling him a racist. Which is fine, be mad, but it's not abuse of power.
FOLBAUM: I think — I think...
TANTAROS: Mouthing off to a cop and then you get rewarded by having a beer at the White House? It's just typical...
PINKERTON: Rick, I think...
FOLBAUM: Quickly, Jim.
POWERS: You're arresting a man in his own home instead of...
FOLBAUM: Hold on.
Jim, real quick.
PINKERTON: I think there's some juice left in this story.
FOLBAUM: You took my line, buddy. That's the headline from this discussion. The story has not been put to bed and the obviously the media will talk more about it. The big winner is the beer industry. How many people are thinking, you know what? I'm going to have a beer tonight, too.
Time for a quick break, but first, we've got lots of extras for you available on the web site, including some of the spirited discussion that break out here during our commercial breaks. You can hear them after the show at FOXnews.com/FOXnewswatch.
We will be back in two minutes with this.
ANNOUNCER: Sarah Palin quits her governor's job. Has the press quit taking shots at her? And Katie Couric takes a shot at the New York Times? Was it a taste of pay back? Details next, on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: You have such important jobs, reporting facts and informing the electorate and exerting power to influence. You represent what could and should be a respected, honest profession that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy. So how about in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up? (APPLAUSE). One other thing for the media. Our new governor has a very nice family, too, so leave his kids alone. (APPLAUSE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOLBAUM: Former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin taking shots at the media as she steps down as the governor last Sunday.
Kirsten, we'll start with you. You're a proud Alaskan, I know.
What did you make of your former governor's remarks? Especially the comments that struck me the most, to — on behalf of the military for the media, stop making stuff up?
POWERS: Yeah, I don't really get that to tell you the truth. I think the media should not make things up. I don't know exactly what she was referring to. And I think that she clearly believes that it's a good strategy. It's a strategy that works on the right, which is attack the media, be against the media, the media is out to get us, and that's going to be her drum beat. And I think she's kind of crossed over to whiney territory where she's just now a complainer, not that she doesn't have things to complain about, I don't know how well it works politically long- term for her.
FOLBAUM: Andrea, you've written about the former governor on the FOX News web site, the "FOX Forum." When she talks about her kids, successor's children and talking about her children, leave them alone, is there any way she's sort of trying to have it both ways, where she talks about, you know, leave my kids alone but then invites Matt Lauer to the "Today" show, into her home where her children are there. They're there in the kitchen while she's preparing a meal or going fishing or whatever?
TANTAROS: Well, I think one is very different from the other. I think we know that she, her children come under attack. Her youngest son with Down's syndrome has come under attack. And I think that's what she's referring to, the inappropriate comments made about her kids.
Look, I thought that comment about the media was right on. I don't think she sound whiney. She hits a chord and she can do it in this country. The media — we're talking about the troops. The media has been reporting no — none of the progress that's been happening in Iraq. That what she should have said, is report the truth, that our guys are over there giving their lives. Things are better in Iraq. That's what she should is said probably instead of making things up, but I think her comments were dead on.
And I think this woman has dropped in the polls because of the constant baseless attacks. The media wants to have an ethics inquiry report about all of these stories, the last one to file all of these baseless ethics inquiries. She hasn't been convicted of any of them and so, she has some work to do.
TANTAROS: No, none, no.
POWERS: One of them. She had to pay a fine for one of them.
TANTAROS: She had some work to do no doubt to repair her image, but the media is not going to stop on her. And she shouldn't stop fighting back.
FOLBAUM: You mentioned polls. We asked in the latest FOX News poll, we asked the Americans what career Sarah Palin should pursue. Here is what the Americans say. about one-third of Americans think the best job for the former governor is as a homemaker; 32 percent, while one in five see her as a talk show host, 17 percent saying that; vice-president of the united states comes in third at 14 percent; and followed closely by college professor, 10 percent; with president coming in dead last at only 6 percent.
So, Jim, all of the media attention that she has received since she was announced as John McCain's running mate last year, has it helped her or hurt her?
PINKERTON: Well, it certainly made her a celebrity. But I did think, the way she's handled things, including the snafu over whether or not she's going to appear at the congressional dinner, the big deal to Republicans back in Washington. And then the Politico reported on Friday that she's not going to make it to the Reagan Library event. The Reagan library is the great shrine of Republicans. If she doesn't make it to that event, there's clearly a screw loose in the Palin operation, and it makes her not credible with all of the pressures that one faces to be president of the United States. Talk show host, yes, Martha Stuart, yes, but not president.
FOLBAUM: Marisa, you watch talk shows as a living.
As part of your job at Broadcasting and Cable. Well, not necessarily. But you certainly have your eye on the media. You know what it takes to be a good talk show host. Does she have a future as a cable news host, for example?
GUTHRIE: Yeah. Sure, she could do that, absolutely. She's just been so undisciplined. And I found her speech, again, completely perplexing and undisciplined. I don't know what the troops had to do with the media making things up. You know, the media didn't get the — you know, the WMD story right and now that's why all the troops are in Iraq. And I think she does sound like a whiner. And her poll numbers have dropped. People don't like whiners. Charles Krauthammer on this network said that she is...
POWERS: And Fred Barnes.
GUTHRIE: Yeah, and Fred Barnes, that this whining isn't good for her.
TANTAROS: OK, she didn't have a teleprompter at her press conference. Shame on her. And as I said she has a lot of work to do, but at the end of the day, Sarah Palin — look at Hillary Clinton and compare the numbers with Sarah Palin. Hillary Clinton, at her lowest point as first lady, approval rating was 54 percent. Hillary said, don't expect me to sit home and bake cookies. And look where she is now. So I think that Sarah Palin, if she does tighten her organization up, get her act together, start giving serious speeches on substance, I think she can be a talk show host, advance her career in politics.
FOLBAUM: We'll all be watching carefully for that.
Time for another quick break. But first, we'd like your help. Stories ideas always welcome, especially if you come across a story of media bias. E-mail us at FOXNewsWatch@FOXNews.co.
And we will be right back with this.
ANNOUNCER: TMZ takes the prize in Michael Jackson scoops. How do they do what they do? And Katie gives the New York Times a piece of her mind. But why? Answers next, on “News Watch."
FOLBAUM: You're looking at it on the screen, another exclusive story by the web site TMZ on the Michael Jackson story. Now this site has repeatedly scooped the mainstream media on the Jackson story. How does it do it? The site is run by former Los Angeles anchor and reporter and attorney, Harvey Levin, who came to attention during the O.J. Simpson trial. Levin's site relies on a wide network stringers who send in tips and news. And TMZ pays for the tips. But Levin says that's, "A minor, minor part of what we do is pay for the tips. We have very, very good sources who really trust us. This is not about money at all."
So, Marisa, should we be surprised by the success of TMZ, all the attention that the website is getting in light of the Jackson scoops, that it's been having repeatedly, and is this sort of a turning point, as Harvey Levin that he would like for all of us to believe, that the web sites, like his, are eventually going to take over the mainstream media?
GUTHRIE: The Jackson story put TMZ in the forefront. And they were first with Anna Nicole Smith. I mean, they have done a lot. But I think they're still — as long as their beat is celebrity deaths and celebrities getting beaten up and drunk celebrities and mug shots, and lacking that, pictures of celebrities looking bad, they're going to continue to be marginalized.
FOLBAUM: Even TMZ makes mistakes. They've reported on a couple of celebrity deaths and they reported on a couple of deaths recently that ended up not to be correct. Do you think that people are going to continue to go to web sites like TMZ as their number-one news source as long as they keep breaking stories?
TANTAROS: I don't know about number-one, but I love TMZ. I love TMZ. I think they do have a deep reach in the 30-mile zone, the TMZ. I think they hit it big with Michael Jackson, and probably more credible than a US Weekly and OK or Star magazine.
Look, they actually do something. If you watch them religiously, like I do...
... they do something interesting. They don't just report celebrity deaths. They actually report what celebrity really are, a lot of them, and that's just messes. They report them, you know, looking and sounding ridiculous, saying stupid things, making really bad decisions. I mean, these people in Hollywood are given scripts, we think they're smart. A lot of them are really not. So TMZ reveals in almost a conservative way, these people are really, a lot of them, a bunch of jokes.
FOLBAUM: Kirsten, what about the idea of paying stringers for scoops, some of which turn out not to be correct. Is that a problem, do you think for the average news consumer?
POWERS: No, I think it's pretty standard, actually, for this type of news. I mean, it doesn't surprise me, per se. I don't think of them as a serious news outlet. I do think that Andrea is right. They're basically going outside of the sort of, these other magazines that often do these kind of puff pieces on celebrities and try to make them look good. and they're sort of saying, no, we're going to show you the stuff that normally would never get out because the publicists are too powerful.
FOLBAUM: Another item at that caught our attention this week, the media gave a report from Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, this is GLAD. That group issuing their third annual responsibility index. According to the Hollywood Reporter, this is a study that evaluates the quantity, qualities and diversity of images of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people on television." HBO was the top show with "Entourage." NBC and CBS got a failing grade.
Jim, my question is what if the Irish American Alliance were to come out with a report that talked about the network's friendliness to Irish Americans, no one could care. And every single newspaper that I saw when this study came out, had a blurb about GLAD's reports, that HBO is — why do people — why are the media so caught up in this?
PINKERTON: Because the MSM P.C. orthodoxy say homophobia is one of the worst crimes you could possibly commit, even thinking a homophobic thought is bad. And GLAD plays right to them and says, yes, now we'll certify you as homophobic or not homophobic. It's the P.C. orthodoxy of our time and it's dominant. Your point about the Irish, Italians, Polish or whatever is proof because no one would care about them.
FOLBAUM: Marisa, as we mentioned, NBC and CBS got a failing grade. Should they be concerned? Are network executives from the two networks sitting down, we need to come up with some more gay friendly shows? Is that going to take place?
GUTHRIE: Well, Hollywood can be notoriously reactionary and they do meet the groups, African-American groups, gay and lesbian groups, women's groups to try to have, you know, equal representation on their programs, because these are broadcasters and their entertainment programming has to appeal to a large swath of the population. I mean, if you don't like something, you can always turn it off. So, you know, they do try to have equal representation.
FOLBAUM: Kirsten, would you like to see more gay friendly programming?
POWERS: I don't watch television really, so none of this affects me. I think that — I actually think that homophobia is a bad thing. And I just think that there are lots of Irish Americans on television and there are all the other groups that are represented. And this is their area of concern. And I think that the newspapers probably think it's news worthy. Whether you're on the side of it or not it's a change in the culture, right? I think it's worthy of reporting on even as a cultural story.
TANTAROS: There are no Greeks on a lot of shows, Kirsten, and no one is reporting that, and I'm offended.
FOLBAUM: Do you expect me to believe you don't watch any television, Kirsten?
POWERS: I watch very little.
FOLBAUM: Come on.
GUTHRIE: FOX News?
FOLBAUM: All right. Here is one, another story people are dubbing the story of sweet revenge.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE COURIC, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Walter Cronkite died one week ago, and while we mourn the loss, it's been wonderful to see such exuberant and health-felt tributes across the country. But I have to smile, albeit a tad ruefully, and I think he would, too, when I saw the New York Times correcting a piece that appeared following his death. The article contained not one, not two, but seven errors about his life and career.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOLBAUM: That's Katie Couric referring to a piece written by a media columnist, Alessandra Stanley. The is the same Alessandra Stanley, Jim, who wrote a piece a few years back about Katie Couric at the “Today” show talking about how everybody would scutter away when she would walk down the halls of NBC. Is this sort of a...
POWERS: The clickity-click of her stilettos.
Is she getting back at this particular writer?
PINKERTON: Absolutely. Rick, as you know, what's the fun of being on television if you don't, every now and then, get to clobber your enemies?
And Katie Couric has a natural audience to do it. Good for her.
FOLBAUM: We'll talk more about this during the break.
But unfortunately we have to take one more break. When we come back, the history of presidential drinks
FOLBAUM: Making peace over a beer at the White House this week, the beer summit got us to thinking about alcohol and commanders in chief. All presidents toast with a champagne, but until Obama, it's been rare to see a president drink a beer in public.
Here is President Roosevelt, who had no problem sipping a cocktail and smoking a cigarette in front of the cameras. Things were a little bit different back then.
Here is President Bush in 2001, at his ranch during a toast to Vladimir Putin in 2001. Not a beer. In fact, President Bush doesn't drink alcohol.
More toasting Russians, here's Bill Clinton with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1995. That's not a beer, but here is President Clinton with a beer. In fact, that looks like a Guinness, with a nice head on it.
And we're inspired by all the talk about beer as the great peacemaker. After our discussion today, it might be time to stick around and have a cold one.
That is a wrap on "News Watch" for this week.
Thanks to Marisa Guthrie, Jim Pinkerton, Andrea Tantaros and Kirsten Powers.
I'm Rick Fulbaum. Thank you for watching. Ladies, gentlemen, thank you for being here. We appreciate it. Cheers.
Thank you very much for watching. Ginger ale, I swear.
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