This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," March 29, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: This week on "FOX News Watch," looks like Hillary didn't come under sniper fire in Bosnia after all. So why did it take the press so long to catch her in a lie?
Chelsea Clinton gets a tough question about Monica Lewinsky. How did she handle it?
Has John McCain replaced Barack Obama as the new media darling?
Plus, why is the "L.A. Times" apologizing?
And Barack, Brad, Angelina, Hillary — are they all just one big happy family?
First the headlines, then us.
(FOX NEWS BREAK)
SCOTT: On the panel this week, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas; Jane Hall of the American University; David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" magazine; and "New York Sun contributing editor and columnist, Nicholas Wapshott.
I'm Jon Scott. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: That was Hillary Clinton speaking in Washington on March 17. And those words set off a firestorm this week when CBS News on Monday aired the footage of what really happened — this footage here — during her visit to Bosnia.
So, David, these were prepared remarks. These weren't off-the-cuff remarks. These were prepared remarks. She made them not only on March 17, but she made them a couple of times earlier, going back to December.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "MOTHER JONES" MAGAZINE: December and February.
SCOTT: So why did it take the media so long to catch on.
CORN: Well, I don't blame the media so much because there's a torrent of statements and facts coming from all the candidates, particularly when there were 27 candidates running back in December. So they pick and chose what they're going to look at. And they tend to drill down more, I think, on policy matters.
But there were some conservative bloggers who, weeks before this, started picking at this. And it eventually became an over-the-top story when you have a key ingredient, which is video.
CORN: YouTube, anything. Nothing makes a story hotter than video. And so, listen, it eventually caught with her in time for us and others to consider what it means.
SCOTT: It shows the advantages of television over print, right?
CORN: Let's not go too far.
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I'm not sure I'm ready to endorse that. But the Media Research Center and News Busters had it. Then Sharyl Attkisson was actually with her on the trip. And other people who were actually with her said this is not the way they remember it.
I thought the best piece about it was Ron Fournier, a long-time political reporter who also covered her. He said, you know, she's running on experience. Why would she exaggerate? She did do things. And it's because she's compensating for the fact that she said I'll be ready on day one, I've got 35 years of experience. And she exaggerated. And this is what she's running on. And I think that's why she's getting killed about it.
SCOTT: So she wants to believe what she thinks she remembers?
HALL: Yes. I guess we've all done that. But I'm not running for president.
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: She should have read her own book though because she told a different story in her book.
But, look, you asked the question, what took the media so long. The Clintons do the honesty quotient equivalent of a document dump on all of us. They are constantly talking about things, most of which aren't true.
There's another factor in this too that relates to another story we're going to get to in just a few minutes. The press has cut back substantially. There are major newspapers and bureaus that have cut back on the number of reporters they have and editors. There is a draining of journalists not only domestically, but overseas. We've talked about this on the program too. So there are fewer journalists to follow these things up. Fortunately, the bloggers are picking up the slack.
SCOTT: Nicholas, it seemed like once this thing spiraled out of control for her — and she issued that sort of wan apology — but the drumbeat of calls in the media for her to get out of the race really seemed to coincide with this misstatement or lie or whatever you want to call it about Bosnia. Have the media decided enough with Hillary.
Well, she's too much fun to supposedly have done that.
NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR & COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK SUN: I think it allowed some people to chip in though, as we know, these are foolish thoughts until at least Pennsylvania. She's not going to quit until at least April 22.
But it certainly gave us all a great chance to explore exactly what she was talking when she talks about experience. When she's talking about experience, what sort of experience was it? Turns out in this instance, she was living in some kind of cuckoo land. This was some mythological place.
CORN: And we have this very odd, this very intensive primary season on both sides and now we have five weeks of nothing, nothing. So this is why the right story got a lot of attention to, when nothing else was going on. As that was fading, the Bosnia tape came forward and it gives up perfect fodder because it gets to some of those key issues, what is she thinking about when she says this.
SCOTT: But interestingly, one of the polls taken suggested the Wright controversy didn't hurt Barack Obama and the Bosnia thing really hurt Hillary Clinton.
CORN: It depends on whether they reinforce what people think already.
THOMAS: Yeah, but here's my favorite line out of all of this. Hillary says she believes it was the first time in the last 12 years that she has misspoken. Now there is a target-rich environment for the media.
SCOTT: I think she was probably just exaggerating just a touch.
THOMAS: Oh, do you think?
SCOTT: And then there was the other candidate, Barack Obama, his appearance this week on "The View." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WATERS, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Maybe we shouldn't say this. But we thought you were very sexy looking. (APPLAUSE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: All right, appropriate? I mean, that's not a newscast, but Barbara Walters made her name as a newswoman.
What do you think about that, Jane?
HALL: You know, a few weeks ago, they told Dan Rather, who's in his 70s, that she thought he was sexy. No offense, Barack, but they're easily pleased, as far as I can tell. You know...
THOMAS: I think Whoopi Goldberg's a little sexy myself.
HALL: I think obviously Barack is trying to go after their women's' audience. I don't agree with that poll that you're citing that says he's not hurt by Reverend Wright. I mean, in the part of the country I'm from, people still want him to disavow those remarks. And he's getting killed on FOX and other conservative talk show hosts are going after him on this.
SCOTT: You mentioned the women's' vote. I mean, nothing in these campaigns happens by accident, except maybe Hillary's remarks about Bosnia.
The fact is she does better generally among some female voters and...
CORN: Well, it's been up and down throughout the campaign so far.
SCOTT: Right. Was this obviously an attempt on his part, on his campaign's part to try to bring in the woman?
CORN: I think he's smart enough to know that an appearance on "The View" is not really going to do anything. Again, we're in this lull in the campaign. I'm not sure if four weeks from now he's going to remember what even happened on "The View."
But you do "Oprah," you do the "The View," you invite the women's' magazines to your home. All the candidates will do that. John McCain may even make it onto "The View" before the campaign's over.
SCOTT: You might.
THOMAS: Or the AARP...
HALL: And they're going to say he's sexy, I bet.
SCOTT: All right. We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back to talk about the treatment John McCain's been getting from the media, and this.
ANNOUNCER: Chelsea gets grilled on the campaign trail. What did she say when she was asked about Monica?
Plus, Brad and Barack, why these two have more in common than you think.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY: Ron and I always waited until everyone has decided and then we endorsed. Well, I'll be you to it because this is the nominee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: John McCain picking up a major endorsement from Nancy Reagan.
Obviously, Cal, she likes him a lot.
THOMAS: Yeah, I was undecided until that endorsement myself.
CORN: But what about Bosnia?
SCOTT: You heard the tease though. The question is — are the media fawning over John McCain now?
THOMAS: Well, sure. They fawn on and they fawn off. It's kind of a love-hate thing. Look at The New York Times that endorsed both McCain and Hillary Clinton during the primary. Well, everybody knows The New York Times is not going to endorse John McCain in the general election. But they liked him when he was a maverick, but which they meant he criticized Republicans. But now, he's toadying up to Nancy Reagan. Bush says he's going to go out on the campaign trail. They'll find a way to unendorsed him real quickly.
CORN: But listen, he gets out there and he says repeatedly that Iran is training al Qaeda, to the extent that Joe Lieberman, in front of TV cameras, has to say, not true. And the media does not give that as much attention as it does other matters.
You know, I still have a pet peeve because I did a story about him campaigning about a pastor who wants to eradicate Islam. And that's getting coverage all throughout the blogosphere, but not in the mainstream media. So, so far, he can't complain about the treatment he's gotten so far. That's what he likes.
WAPSHOTT: Yes, but this is maybe because the big fight's going on, on the other side. There is a natural deficit there, isn't it. What? It'll eventually get around...
SCOTT: It is a little bit boring on the Republican side compared to what's happening on the Democrat side.
HALL: Well, it's also true that the media love access. And you know, he ran the Straight Talk Express. That's how he ran his candidacy when he first ran in 2000. And people respect the war hero. People respect his narrative. They respect that he's treating them well on the campaign trail. This is an under-valued aspect of the media that people don't realize. They didn't like Al Gore because he seemed stiff and wasn't that interested in talking to those people.
CORN: What I think is going to happen in the fall too, is the level of media coverage and the level of campaign coverage will be dictated or dominated by what's going on in Iraq. And he is so tied to the war that he's going to get a lot of coverage about John McCain and what's going on in Iraq. And that could be either very good for him or actually quite lethal.
THOMAS: And actually watch out for the age question. Ageism is going to raise its head. That's going to be a major factor in the contrast, probably with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. It will be unstated but it will also be stated. It will be very stated.
SCOTT: Is there a media narrative about McCain that's going not covered, uncovered.
WAPSHOTT: I don't think so.
SCOTT: I mean, is age an issue that the media should be taking a look at?
HALL: Well I think, you know, when he made the Iraq-Iran confusion, it's true, he got a pass. I mean, Brit Hume's on this network — it was a senior moment. Now, I don't know that you want that said about you, but...
CORN: Especially, you don't want a senior moment at 3 a.m. and that phone's ringing.
HALL: I think the coverage — I agree with Cal and I agree with David — the coverage is going to shift once we get down to the general election. But he is being treated pretty much with kid gloves, except for the exception of the "New York Times" story, which was very flawed about him.
SCOTT: So in comparison with the media's coverage of Hillary Clinton going back to our first discussion, I mean, on balance, you put the two of them in the same room with the same media, you think she's going to get the worst coverage, Cal?
THOMAS: Well, it's hard to say. Look the media — we've said this before on this show — they like a battle more than anything else, even their ideology. They want the face time on TV. They want the print in the newspapers. And so even more than ideology, they're going to go for the battle.
I think McCain's being set up, frankly. I think the media's kissing up to him.
CORN: Rope and dope.
THOMAS: They wanted him to be the Republican nominee because they think he's easier to defeat by either of the Democrats.
CORN: We all like face time, don't us. But there is no media conspiracy one way or the other. There are trends and there are general patterns because they all follow the same set of rules. I don't think anyone's setting up for anything. But when the fighting becomes real, either the Democrat and the Republican, the media will take the lead from the Democratic attack, the way they take the lead from the Republican attack against the Democrats. They start digging into a lot of this stuff. So McCain is far from out of the woods.
THOMAS: His first wife endorsed him. That's good enough for me.
SCOTT: Time for another break. We're going to keep on talking during the break. And if you want to hear what we're talking about, you can go to our web site, foxnews.com/foxnewswatch.
We'll be back in two minutes with this.
ANNOUNCER: Carville compares him to Judas for endorsing Obama. Did the press get it right?
And Angelina and Hillary — could they be distance cousins? All next, on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF HILLARY CLINTON: Wow. You're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the — I don't know - - maybe 70 college campuses that I've now been to. And I do not think that's any of your business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: All right, that was Chelsea Clinton. She had been asked by a reporter — a student newspaper reporter — about what she thought about Monica Lewinsky.
Nicholas, first time she has been asked about it? Does that surprise you?
WAPSHOTT: Well, if it's true, it's amazing to me. Of course, you can quite tell that she's related. But 70 times she has been on campuses? In any case, she might expect this question. So she might expect to have a better answer than saying it's none of your business. They must have given her a better answer than that to...
CORN: ... because the question was — what did the Monica business say about your mother's credibility. I think the person's name was Evan Strange, who asked the question. He said afterwards to reporters that he actually is a supporter of Hillary's and, up to that moment, showed a lot of strength. And he was asking it from a sympathetic perspective. So for Chelsea to just go up there and say none your damn business, I think that was a pretty low blow.
SCOTT: So you don't think that question crossed the line?
CORN: Not the way the question was asked. You know, there was nothing personal about it.
WAPSHOTT: ... I mean, it was a simple question. And she must — she should have been better equipped to do it than that. It's not as if she's 15 years old or 13 years old. She's a grown woman.
CORN: She's a surrogate. Surrogates get treated like candidates.
THOMAS: That's right. Exactly.
HALL: She has been treated with kid gloves. But I don't know, maybe it's the mom in me. I though she looked genuinely hurt. And I agreed with her, it was none of this kid's business. And I don't buy it was to help her hit it out of the park. I thought it was a tacky question.
THOMAS: Well, we're in a transition which has really, I don't think, happened in modern times before. When the lid was on with Chelsea, she, and properly so, was beyond criticism, trying to grow up. A young girl, young woman...
SCOTT: The "Saturday Night Live" skits.
THOMAS: Yes. But now, as David says, she is a surrogate and has to be treated just like any other surrogate would. And the fact that her mother is running for president of the United States, you can't ask for a protection from certain questions. Everything is open.
CORN: It was a very gentle question. I mean, it wasn't like asking for the personal lurid details.
HALL: But it was so tacky. I mean, I just think the average person would agree with me, guys, it was the classic of the people not liking the media. I don't think she's fair game.
CORN: I don't like the way you said "guys," OK?
HALL: Yeah, OK, boys.
SCOTT: OK, let's move on to this. The L.A. Times has to apologize over an article on a rapper. That was the headline from The L.A. Times last Thursday. I kind of blew it there in my reading of the prompter. But the newspaper revealed that it had relied on false documents to suggest that a 1994 attack on rapper Tupac Shakur was orchestrated by the producer Sean "Diddy" Colmes.
Did The Times just fall for this one hook, line and sinker?
CORN: Well, there's a line from "The Godfather" when someone says, "This is bad for business." I mean, this is just bad for journalism. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Chuck Phillips, took some documents that were obviously, to when people looked at them afterwards, forgeries; fell for them.
Cal mentioned earlier that newsrooms are smaller now. Not enough eyes were on this. You had one editor who vetted it. It should have been caught early on. It wasn't. A lot of egg on their face. And it's just lousy.
THOMAS: Yes, and for that very reason, I'm sorry to say, I think you're going to see more stories like this because of the shrunken newsroom, the fewer editors, the emphasis on the bottom line and profit, instead of good journalism.
SCOTT: And because the con man here got away with it. I mean, got that thing in the paper. And it's just like the fraudsters out there on the Internet, there are going to be more people trying to pass off fake documents.
HALL: You know, I worked at The L.A. Times for nine years. This is a really gut-wrenching story for people there because he is a Pulitzer Prize winner. The place is in disarray. People are taking the bias because it's being run into the ground. And I'm not excusing this, but I do think the fact there weren't more eyes on it is one thing that needs to be known about it.
SCOTT: Yes, but after what happened to CBS News and the Memogate, which is very similar, a bunch of concocted documents here, who could this happen?
HALL: Well, partially, I think it's the guy's been on the story for a long time and believed it matched what he uncovered himself and believed it to be true.
WAPSHOTT: Also, one of the first rules in journalism is to be skeptical. It means that people don't actually like the press very much. They think they're cynical, which we're not necessarily. But what we should be is skeptical. And if you see something that looks too good to be true, it probably is.
CORN: Yeah, there was one great example of excellent reporting this week. The New York Times had a front-page story on a company ran by a licensed Masseur who's selling hundreds of millions of dollars to the Afghan army on behalf of our Pentagon. And that was fantastic investigative journalism that came out the same day as the apology. And you know, it's a hard business digging up these stories. And some people are doing it right and doing a good job. I think The Times just cracked under the pressures that already exit at the paper.
SCOTT: All right, let's move on to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CARVILLE, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Proper branding is important.
DIANE SAWYER, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Branding?
CARVILLE: And I wanted to be sure that Dr. Richardson's act was branded properly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Yes, Hillary Clinton support, James Carville, not backing down from his comments comparing New Mexico governor and former Clinton cabinet member, Bill Richardson, to Judas for endorsing Barack Obama.
All right, David, did he succeed in his branding?
CORN: Well, he succeeded in making his point. And when you're that high-profile and say something that outrageous — or stupid as some people might think — you're going to get attention. You've got cable, you've got bloggers, people like us who now put it on. And he succeeded.
But I don't think it's going to score Hillary Clinton any points. The Clinton campaign kind of ran away from that comment as well because that would make Hillary Jesus.
Did I get this right?
THOMAS: Don't steal my material.
CORN: Sorry, Cal.
THOMAS: I was going to say, if James Carville thinks that Bill Richardson is Judas Iscariot, he has a much higher view of Hillary Clinton as the savior of the world than I do.
SCOTT: Lasting damage, Jane?
HALL: I don't think so. But, you know, Bill Richardson, you can criticize him. Some people say he waffled and then went the guy he thought was going to win. But I think that is such extreme language. And to be proud of not backing down, I don't think that's the smartest thing James Carville has done.
SCOTT: All right, we have to take one more break. We will be back to talk about this.
ANNOUNCER: We are family? Could Barack and Brad, and Angelina and Hillary all be singing a new song? That's next on "News Watch."
SCOTT: Don't bother to search your family tree. Go into politics and someone will do it for you. Those wise words courtesy of our own Cal Thomas as they appear in his latest book "Common Ground."
And someone has done just that for the three remaining presidential candidates. Their family trees got a little bigger this week, courtesy of the folks at New England Historic Genealogical Society.
Barack Obama discovered a new distance cousin — none other than Brad Pitt, who might be fun to have at the Thanksgiving Table.
And Obama's rival, Hillary Clinton, she's related to Pitt's companion, Angelina Jolie. It turns out Ms. Clinton is also related to Madonna and even Camilla-Parker Bowles.
What about John McCain? Well, he just found out he's related to Laura Bush.
And believe it or not, I'm actually related to Attila the Hun. So says one of my distant uncles.
That's all the time we have left this week.
Thanks to Jane Hall, Nicholas Wapshott, Cal Thomas and David Corn.
I'm Jon Scott. We thank you for watching. Keep it right here on FOX for the latest news and more.
For more information and exclusive content related to "FOX News Watch" go to www.foxnews.com/foxnewswatch
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