Transcript: 'Fox News Watch,' January 9, 2010

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This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Watch," January 9, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JON SCOTT, HOST: On "Fox News Watch," a near Christmas day disaster.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We have to do better and we will do better.


SCOTT: U.S. intelligence failures at all levels.


OBAMA: The system has failed in a potentially disastrous way.

SCOTT: As concern about our security grows, is the press pushing for answers and results?

Key Democrats call it quits.


SEN. CHRIS DODD, D-CONN.: I will not be a candidate for reelection.


SCOTT: As reporters begin to question the strength of the party, are the liberal media showing signs after Obama hangover?

Despite the president's promises the media have been locked out of the back-room negotiations on health care. Does anyone notice?


WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: We covered this yesterday and I refer you to yesterday's transfer.


SCOTT: The tea party movement grows stronger. And most of the media don't like it.

A respected journalist offers Tiger some advice, how does the liberal press react?


KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: Is it not in the interest of people of faith to avoid this public proselytizing.


SCOTT: And the model-in-chief becomes a big shot in Time Square. Was that a big mistake?

On the panel this week, writer and Fox News contributor, Judy Miller; editor of the National Review, Rich Lowry; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New American Foundation; and Fox News correspondent, Douglas Kennedy.

I'm Jon Scott. "Fox News Watch" is on right now.

The new face of terror, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas day, an event which forced the terror threat back into the headlines. A wakeup call to the press. And a wake-up call to the officials responsible for protecting us, who seemed caught off guard, and issued responses that didn't sit well with the media or the American public.


SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY JANET NAPOLITANO: What we're focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel. And one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked.


SCOTT: President Obama remained in Hawaii on vacation after the botched bombing. He waited three days to speak to the press and address the American people.

On Sunday, White House counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, told Chris Wallace, despite all the Monday morning quarterbacking going on, there was no smoking gun that would have sent the suspect hurdling on to everybody's radar screens.

Then, Thursday after releasing a report that his own national security advisor promised would shock the average American, President Obama vowed to defeat al-Qaeda.


OBAMA: I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer. For ultimately, the buck stops with me. As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. And when the system fails, it is my responsibility.


SCOTT: Well, not missing a beat, The New York Post summed it up in a headline that screams "They want to kill us, president finally connects the dots."

What about the headline, Judy, does The New York Post have it right?

JUDITH MILLER, WRITER AND Fox NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think they do have it right. And I think the media played a large role in pushing this White House into more aggressive statements and some response. I mean, the beginning response, what we saw from Napolitano's lame comments, were quickly retracted, but it took them almost a week to get their story straight. And we still haven't heard from Dennis Blair. The media have not asked about Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, whose job it was to connect those dots that are on "The New York Post" cover.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Jon, I'm stuck on your intro. We're supposed to be doing media bias and this intro sound like it's written by Dick Cheney in his bunker. Come on, we've three against one. I need at least...


SCOTT: You don't like it?

KENNEDY: No, I need help from you, Jon. These guys are like...

MILLER: Wait a minute. I'm very, very liberal on a lot of issues. And I only...

KENNEDY: Judy, you went to jail to protect Dick Cheney.

MILLER: I did not go to jail to protect Dick Cheney.

KENNEDY: Well, somebody. I don't know who it was but...


MILLER: I went to jail to protect my source. And that's something that you, as a journalist, should be proud of.

KENNEDY: No, hey, I think you did the greatest thing. I'm just saying I'm a little outnumbered here, and I need help from Jon.


SCOTT: All right, let's get back to the point.

Jim, do you think that the change in tone of the administration was, in any way, driven by headlines like this?

JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICAN FOUNDATION: I think there was a lot of pressure on the administration to get with the program, as it were, and get serious about terrorism. However, they had a few loyalists in the media who were sticking up for them. Matt Lauer on "The Today Show" said, look, we've got to get rid of this idea, that's a quote, that President Obama is not tough on terrorism. And Diane Sawyer, in one of the most remarkable leaps I've seen on a prime time show, compared Obama's mistake on the underwear bomber to John F. Kennedy at the Bay of Pigs without bothering to inform her viewers that dwindling numbers that they are...


.... that Kennedy— what made Kennedy's handling of the Bay of Pigs so remarkable was that he brought in President Eisenhower afterwards to help him, to counsel on how to do things. Obama, to my knowledge, has not yet reached out to George W. Bush.

KENNEDY: Isn't this what Al Qaeda wants to do, is fight with each other and be critical of each other?

PINKERTON: No, they want us to die.


KENNEDY: Well, I think they want us to be terrorized and they want us to — they want us to be fighting with each other and doing stuff that's against our values.

SCOTT: What about though the changing tone from the administration itself? They said essentially we screwed up and did that — did that hit reflect?

KENNEDY: If I have one criticism of Obama, it's that he did cave in and say — and now has to say, it is — it is a war. The warfare will — would not have stopped this bomber. Warfare, bombs and soldiers would not have stopped this guy. What we need now is analysis. We need to connect the dots. This is the stuff that Obama is actually — could be very good at and could be better at than our previous president.

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, if he is been in a training facility in Yemen that got hit by a missile from a drone, warfare would have taken care of the problem.


KENNEDY: But if he had been in an apartment where they had blown up the whole block, then you create 2000 other terrorists who have lost their brothers and sisters.

SCOTT: The question now is the change in tone coming as a result of the change in the headlines?

KENNEDY: I think it is.

LOWRY: Well, it's a sign that spin has to have some connection to reality. And Janet Napolitano, when she went out there and said the system worked, everyone in America, including even journalists, knew that was ridiculous. And it was like waving a red flag, just daring them to find all the ways in which the system didn't work. And with some exceptions, that Jim points out, and there are others, they went out and they did that. And it was a service to the nation and it dragged President Obama along.

PINKERTON: And there's been a good, drip, drip, drip on this case and that's what the Obama people have to worry about. The New York Daily News, for example, broke the story about Michael Leiter being on a ski vacation during this. That's the kind of disclosures that, if they were smart, they'd get in front of them instead of waiting for the press to discover that.

SCOTT: Michael Leiter, the head of the National Counterterrorism.

KENNEDY: Which they got it a little bit wrong. he wasn't on vacation when it happened.

PINKERTON: He was on vacation after it happened.


MILLER: He went on vacation after it happened as part of...

KENNEDY: I'm not defending it, but let's...

MILLER: ... the kind of lame response.

KENNEDY: But let's be truthful about what they got wrong and what happened.

LOWRY: The one thing I would have liked to see, I'm still hoping it will happen, is more rehabilitation of Gitmo in the press. Because the premature release of dangerous people to Saudi Arabia and Yemen helped create this problem because...

KENNEDY: Gitmo is what was created.

LOWRY: Just let me finish.

MILLER: No, no, no, there was no Gitmo when this...

LOWRY: The leadership of al-Qaeda and Arabian Peninsula is made up of Gitmo releasees.

KENNEDY: Gitmo is what created this problem.

You know this, Judith.



LOWRY: Was there a Gitmo in 9/11?

KENNEDY: National security in 2006 under President Bush says Gitmo and the war in Iraq is what is creating terrorism.


KENNEDY: And terrorists and an al-Qaeda recruiting around the country.

MILLER: There was an attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. There was a second attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, long before we had Gitmo or a war.


KENNEDY: And what about with box knives on 2001, and now they're...

LOWRY: And there wasn't a Gitmo or a war in Iraq.

KENNEDY: There was an international...

LOWRY: They hate us.



LOWRY: They want to kill us.


SCOTT: Let's ask about this though, the president has changed his tone, it would seem, going away from that War on Terror. He didn't like that, didn't use that...

KENNEDY: He said it...

SCOTT: Well, now it's a war on Al Qaeda. Is there a difference?


KENNEDY: He did say a war on terror in his inaugural address. And to say he didn't is wrong.

PINKERTON: I think Peggy Noonan put it well, look, in her column in the Wall Street Journal, President Obama spent the last year working on health care and cap-and-trade. And it would appear that counterterrorism was a lower priority.


KENNEDY: And he's also sent more predator drones to Pakistan than George Bush did in the previous five years.

MILLER: Yes. That was — that was David Corn. There's a gap between...

KENNEDY: I mean, help me out, Judith, a little bit with some facts, come on.


MILLER: David Corn got it right in Politics Daily, when he said that there's a gap between what the president is actually doing and his rhetoric. At least there has been until now, because there were 404 predator attacks under President Obama versus 286 under President Bush in the last year.

KENNEDY: Thank you, thank you.

MILLER: But that's a curious thing. Why is there this gap? Why is he actually waging a war...

KENNEDY: Because he's not a war monger.

MILLER: Wait a minute. He's waging a war...


SCOTT: We've got to get a commercial break in here.

Douglas, you're standing up for yourself in very fine fashion.


We have to take a break. When our discussion on this topic continues, it can get a bit more spirited, and I think it's about to. You can hear them after the show at

We'll be back in two minutes to talk about the press and how it's covering Democrats in the mid-term elections.

ANNOUNCER: Democratic drop-outs. Prominent members of the president's party head for the exits. Will the press help push them out the door?

And why is the liberal press so sour on the tea party movement?


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The tea baggers are an interesting group to watch.


ANNOUNCER: All next, on "News Watch."



DODD: In the long sweep of American history, there are moments for each elected public official to step aside and let someone else step up. This is my moment to step aside.


SCOTT: Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd announcing this week he would not seek reelection. And he's not the only prominent member of the president' party to leave politics behind. North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan and Colorado's Democratic Governor Bill Ritter also announcing they will exit, stage left.

What do you think about that, Douglas? Three big name Democrats drop out the first week of 2010. How is the press treating it?


SCOTT: How's the press treating it?


KENNEDY: This is the point you should also be talking about the tea bag movement, not in the next segment because both parties are suffering incredible losses. It's not about Democrats or Republicans. It's about incumbents and the Republican Party right now, which is under a complete civil bar with the tea bag movement.

SCOTT: Tea party movement.


KENNEDY: The tea party movement.

SCOTT: You're adopting the pejorative.

KENNEDY: Well, the tea party movement. And that's what we should be discussing both of these in one segment, not one now and one later. That's how the media is mistreating the tea partiers.

SCOTT: Let's let Rich Lowry weigh in. He's a media guy.

LOWRY: I used to be a producer, not just a panel.


KENNEDY: Yes, who is the producer? Yes, is it the Republican Party or is it, you know?

SCOTT: The horse race, the horse racing, the handicapping has already begun on the 2010 elections. Are the press picking sides?

LOWRY: Well, as, I think, Howard Kurtz pointed out, it takes three to make a trend in any media story.


And you had this black Tuesday where you had three retirements. One of them was actually good for the Democrats, Chris Dodd, because he's probably going to lose anyway. But Ritter in Colorado, and Dorgan in North Dakota, are signs that Democrats in those red or red-leaning states are very nervous. They know there's probably a wave of coming and too big for the media to ignore, and it hasn't.

SCOTT: Michael Moore, the film director, very liberal, said he applauded the fact that Chris Dodd was leaving politics. He said, "Four months after our request for him to retire, Senator Dodd agrees." Is it more of a sign of the fracturing of...

PINKERTON: Well, I think, with apologies to Douglas, I think there's a civil war going on in both parties.

KENENDY: That's agreeing with me, right?

PINKERTON: I'm absolutely agreeing with you.

KENNEDY: Thank you.


PINKERTON: And so...

MILLER: He's not alone anymore.

PINKERTON: Alan Grayson, the Democratic Congressman from Florida, has become a hero in the Keith Olbermann YouTube world, by denouncing Republicans as murders but also denouncing Harry Reid. It's a phenomenon where the extremes are finding in media outlets.

KENENDY: And we should point out there are more — Republican Senators now have announced their resignation is than Democrats. More Republicans Congressmen have announced their retirements than Democrats. And more governors in the Republican Party...

PINKERTON: Douglas, if you read publications like or...

KENNEDY: No, I'm not saying that...


KENNEDY: If both parties are in trouble and the Democrats have more incumbents and so they are more in trouble. That is absolutely a fair story.

PINKERTON: Politico or will tell new detail how most observers think that Republicans take up North Dakota, Colorado and so on and so on. That's where the trend is coming from.

KENNEDY: There's no doubt about that.

SCOTT: Makes Judy want to write more about terrorism.


MILLER: Absolutely, more terror and less politics. And only because I think the media have been pretty straight on this so far. They have pointed out the number of kind of people just throwing in the towel on both sides. Let's face it, when you have Michael Steele, the head of the Republicans, getting up on television and saying, well, you know, I don't think the Republicans are going to win the Congress.

LOWRY: Michael Steele is indicative of nothing.

MILLER: And then I think it's hard to concentrate on what the Democrats were saying.


SCOTT: Hold on.

PINKERTON: Hold on, Jon. Let Rich finish the statement.

LOWRY: I'm saying that Michael Steele is indicative of nothing except for whatever stray thought happens to be popping in his mind at any given moment.

MILLER: Have you demoted him?

LOWRY: I wouldn't read too much into that.

KENNEDY: You want him to quit then, right?

MILLER: You want him to quit.


SCOTT: It's time for another break.

First, if you come across a story you think shows media bias, e-mail us at

KENNEDY: You're going to get an e-mail from me later.


SCOTT: All right.

We'll be back to answer the question, what is it about the tea party movement that riles the liberal press.

ANNOUNCER: Where is the transparency? C-SPAN and others want President Obama to keep his promise on the health care process.


OBAMA: Broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so the American people can see what the choices are.


ANNOUNCER: Is the press pushing hard enough?

Plus, a trusted news man offers sage advice to a wayward Tiger, but the liberal media derail the message. All next, on "News Watch."



OBAMA: We'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN.

Broadcasting those on C-SPAN.

That's why I want it open. We're going to have everyone around the table. But we'll do it on C-SPAN.

All this will be done on C-SPAN, in front of the public.

We're still going to have a bunch of this stuff on C-SPAN.

We're going to make sure we've got all of our negotiations about health care on C-SPAN.


SCOTT: Candidate Obama there in 2008 with lots of promises about openness and transparency under his administration. Well, that was then. But as the fight over health care has unfolded, the nitty-gritty negotiations have been behind doors.

Even normally docile C-SPAN now is getting in on the act calling on Congress and the White House to let the public watch the conference committee deliberations. Team Obama, not happy about that.

Here is what happened when a reporter asked about access this week.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you agree that the president is breaking an explicit campaign promise?

GIBBS: We covered this yesterday. And I would refer you to yesterday's transcript.


GIBBS: And the answer that I would give today is similar to the one...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There has been intervening media in which it been reported that the president — president pressed the leaders in Congress to take the fast-track approach, to skip the conference committee, did he do that.

GIBBS: The president wants to get a bill to his desk as quickly as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In spite of that, he promised to do this on C- Span.

GIBBS: I refer you to what we talked about yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But the president, in this meeting yesterday...

GIBBS: And I address that...

UNIDENIFIED REPORTER: ... pressed for something that's in direct violation after promise he made during the campaign.

GIBBS: And I addressed that yesterday.


SCOTT: Jim, you have been watching C-SPAN. Have you seen any of the negotiations?


PINKERTON: I haven't. and neither has Brian Lamb, who, of course, is the founder of C-SPAN who, in 30 years in Washington, has never been known to take a political stand on anything. He's very neutral. And yet, he said — he wrote a letter in which he said, look, "I think the Obamas played us as a political football," unquote. They took advantage of us, C- Span that is, during the campaign to talk about how open and transparent they were. And, of course, once they got elected, they pulled the plug.

SCOTT: What about that media push? Is that going to work? Is that going to bring anymore transparency to the process?

LOWRY: No, this was an impossible promise. Obama, I believe, knew it was impossible when he's saying it. It was just saying it to get applause. If you had the negotiations broadcast on C-SPAN, then there would be private pre-negotiations with the real wheeling and dealing went on. This stuff always happens in secret and pretty much has to happen in secret.

KENNEDY: As a journalist, I can't defend this, except to saying the only person watching any negotiations on C-SPAN is Jim Pinkerton.


SCOTT: Time for a look at the tea party story now.


AD NARRATOR: Learn to speak tea bag. Finally, learning a new language doesn't have to be hard. You can be fluent in conversational tea bag in just a few, short minutes. Lesson one, don't get distracted by the confusing words of other languages.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: I think the public option and the competition it would foster would really — Socialists, Socialists.

AD NARRATOR: Good, very good.


SCOTT: All right, that's just part of an animated short feature appearing on the Web site of NPR — National Public Radio — taxpayer funded. That and other negative reaction from the media to the tea party movement shows no signs of simmering down.

Here is what MSNBC host, Chris Matthews, said recently about tea party supporters:


MATTHEWS: They're mono-chromatic, right?

UNIDENTIFIED GUEST: Well, I don't know that they're mono-chromatic.

MATTHEWS: They're not. Every picture I see shows them to be.

UNIDENTIFIED GUEST: Well, there's a lot of people out there that cuts across a lot of demographics who feel disenfranchised.

MATTHEWS: But not that other demographic.

UNIDENTIFIED GUEST: The other demographic?

MATTHEWS: Meaning they're all white, all of them. Every single one of them is white.


SCOTT: What about it, Rich?

We'll get to you in a minute, Doug.


Why are the tea party movements...

KENNEDY: I've said my peace.


SCOTT: Why does the tea party movement have so many in the media so worked up?

LOWRY: I think it's a couple of factors. One, obviously, an ideological hostility, because they're conservatives. But, two, an elite condescension, because it's a populist movement. And my prediction is that, over time, the phrase "tea bag," which is now pejorative, will be adopted by the movement the way pejoratives often are, whether neo-con or going way back to the beginning the word American, duh.


KENNEDY: Just tell them leave the swastikas at home and the pictures of Hitler.


KENNEDY: And they might gain popularity.

PINKERTON: The pictures of Hitler brought in by the Lyndon LaRouche people, who are actually — Lyndon LaRouche ran as a Democrat several times.

KENNEDY: But there's anti-Semitism and...

MILLER: I'm actually surprised you see this kind of attack on this movement now, because the liberals on the left have loved this movement.

KENENDY: This is going to help the liberals and left more than anything.

MILLER: Exactly, because they love to...

KENNEDY: Split the Republican Party and elect every Democrat that they run a seat in.

SCOTT: Let's take a look at another story that involved — attracted a lot of media attention:


BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that's offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.


SCOTT: Well, those comments from Brit Hume about Tiger Woods didn't sit too well with many in the liberal media. Here are just some the headlines we've seen this week. In the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "The right reverend Brit Hume points the way to Tiger's redemption." U.S. World and News Report says "Why Brit Hume comment on Tiger Woods is creepy and wrong." And The Washington Post reads, "Brit Hume's off message, have faith, Tiger Woods, as long as it's Christianity."

And that's not all. Here's MSNBC's David Schuster.


DAVID SCHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Is it ever, ever a wise idea for a political analyst to essentially anoint themselves somebody's spiritual advisor, denigrate that person's religion, and do so on a Sunday political talk show?



SCOTT: Rich, had he been talking about any other religion besides Christianity, would it be an issue?

LOWRY: No, of course not. First of all, if you actually look it up, what he said about Buddhism is correct. And I don't see how it's a scandal, even really noteworthy for a Christian to say positive...

KENNEDY: Buddhism doesn't offer — look it up.

LOWRY: Yes. You can look it up. Look at Wikipedia...

KENNEDY: I actually thought that Brit was — I thought Brit was pretty thoughtful.


SCOTT: We've got to go. We have to take one more break, so we can pay for this show.


When we come back. . . .

ANNOUNCER: He's been on TV, on cover after cover, but is this going too far? Answers next, on "News Watch."


SCOTT: The president's image sold a lot of magazines, but can it sell rain coats? This week, outerwear clothing company, Weatherproof, made news putting up a giant billboard in New York's Time Square, featuring President Obama wearing a jacket a Weatherproof jacket while visiting the Great Wall of China. Now, the White House says no one there authorized the use of the president's image and they want the billboard down. But guess what, Weatherproof has seen plenty of free publicity from the ad. Of course, the folks at Weatherproof, no strangers to P.R. stunts. It's the same company that also tried to put one of its jackets on the Times Square icon known as the Naked Cowboy.

And it doesn't end there. PETA has put Ms. Obama's image on a poster in the Washington area, declaring here fur free and fabulous, along with Oprah Winfrey, Carrie Underwood and Tyra Banks. Once again, the White House had to declare that they did not authorize the poster either.

As The Washington Times said so well this week, oh, the woes of first fashion. There is a price to pay when one is a global style icon. Everyone wants some power cache.

That is a wrap on "News Watch" this week. Thanks to our style icons, Judy Miller, Jim Pinkerton, Rich Lowry and Douglas Kennedy.

I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for watching. See you next week.

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