Transcript: 'FOX News Watch,' November 8, 2008
This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," November 8, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: This week on "FOX News Watch," President-elect Obama meets the press. Is this the start of a beautiful marriage or a rocky road?
Can media claim credit for Obama's election victory?
It is transition time. What are the media making of this new presidential team?
Plus, blaming Palin. Is the McCain camp using the media to attack the governor?
President Bush gets ready to exit the White House. How are journalists treating him during this long good-bye?
On the panel this week, Jane Hall of the American University; syndicated columnist Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, columnist and fellow, New America Foundation; and writer and FOX News contributor, Judith Miller.
I'm Jon Scott. "FOX News Watch" is on right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: This morning we woke up to more sobering news about the state of our economy. The 240,000 jobs lost in October are the 10th consecutive month that our economy has shed jobs. In total, we've lost nearly 1.2 million jobs this year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: President-elect Barack Obama speaking to reporters in his first press conference since winning the White House on Tuesday.
Cal, you watched that news conference. Look into your crystal ball and tell us what it says about, first of all, his performance as president coming up, and the way the media will relate to him?
CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, he read the notes and he was very careful about what he said, as he should be. As he said, he's not the president yet. It wasn't really a news conference. It was an opening statement and it was sort of a news availability.
I think, Jim, you counted six questions.
One was about the dog, so that's about five questions.
THOMAS: And only Ahmadinejad was the serious question. And he wasn't going to answer that. So no damage was done.
SCOTT: Judith, you seemed disappointed with the questions that were asked?
JUDITH MILLER, WRITER & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I was a little disappointed how short and how few questions were asked. I don't think there's much you can ask in less than 30 minutes.
SCOTT: Given the expectations on his shoulders, Jim, it seems like he should have been up there for two hours?
JIM PINKERTON, COLUMNIST & FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: It would have been nice. Look, if anybody doubted that the Obama yes-we-can great seal, which they released last summer — everybody laughed it off — and the thing on the airplane and the roman columns and the searchlights appear, if anybody thought that was some accident, now we know there is somebody in the Obama campaign and Obama operation, who can't wait for Obama to become the greatest, most majestic roman emperor, president ever.
PINKERTON: And they keep doing it, office of the president-elect. There is somebody going nuts in the graphics arts department.
SCOTT: Just that sign has you saying that? What was it about the news conference that has you saying that?
PINKERTON: I'm sorry?
SCOTT: What was it about that news conference that has you saying that?
PINKERTON: I'm sorry, it's just entirely visual. Television is a visual medium. I was reacting. Especially, once you realized he wasn't going to say anything, it was more interesting to watch traffic.
THOMAS: Jim thinks he should have come out in a toga.
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think I had the same feeling having just seen him winning and the faces in Grant Park and his grin and his family, he was so sober. He barely smiled. The only time he smiled was when he talked about the family dog. I think he probably has realized, if he didn't already, oh, my goodness, we have a lot to do here. And I think that he was seeking to communicate.
I found it striking that he didn't introduce any of the panoply of all the advisers behind him, many of whom are very well-known figures on Wall Street. I thought that was a very interesting choice. He kept it brief. He clearly would be criticized if he seemed to be over-reaching on President Bush.
SCOTT: He seemed to want the focus to be on him.
You noted, Judith, he said, my and I a lot.
MILLER: As that is as it should be. What struck me was this is the first time in a long time I've heard Obama say — he was speaking as opposed to orating. And we get a sense of the guy. When he said a mutt like me, self deprecation, calling all the reporters by their names because one of the things reporters said about him, even though they traveled on the plane, train and buses with him, they had no sense of him.
THOMAS: He didn't have any sense of them either. He had them all written down, if you noticed. He said, let's see — he looked at the chart — I'll call on Candy.
SCOTT: Here is one of the things that voters think about the media and the way the media conducted the campaign. During the campaign, Rasmussen reports asked, most reporters have? And the answer, 51 percent said they've tried to help Barack Obama.
SCOTT: Jim, you have noticed that, that there was at least the perception. And people seem to be aware the media tried to help Obama win is
PINKERTON: By 7-1, they think the reporters were siding with Obama over McCain, and by 3-1, they said as a general proposition reporters are out to shield for one candidate or the other, in this case, Obama. It is one of those questions — I'm sure we will find liberal media experts who will say it is not true, it is not true. Who are you going to believe the experts or your own two eyes?
HALL: I think there's hopefully going to be some soul-searching. I fear there may not be. I fear what may happen is the media will turn on Obama to prove their independence.
PINKERTON: Oh, I don't think so.
HALL: Yes, I think so. I think it is really bad, the discrepancy between the coverage of Michelle Obama on Cindy McCain or the Newsweek cover of Obama or the Newsweek cover of Sarah Palin. It was blatant.
SCOTT: If it turns out Barack Obama is not the second coming, is he going to get some kind of nasty coverage, and could it come soon?
THOMAS: Picking up on what Jane said and what you suggested, there was the first sign of that this week on "The Charlie Rose Show." He had on Evan Thomas and Jon Meacham of Newsweek and Tom Brokaw. It was incredible. It was like a one hour program on buyer's remorse. Listen to what one said. "Slightly, creepy occult of personality, too self aware," speaking of Obama. "We don't know this guy. Do we know if he has read any books about China?" I'm thinking, why didn't you ask those questions during the campaign!
SCOTT: So what happens if, all of a sudden, after this love fest between the media and Barack Obama, what happens if the press is kept at an arm's length during a Barack Obama administration?
MILLER: They are inevitably are going to turn on him, as all — this happened to every administration. I don't see why we should be surprised. It is the natural turn of events.
PINKERTON: Did the press turn on John Kennedy?
MILLER: I think he wasn't around long enough.
PINKERTON: OK, what's I'm saying, if they love you enough, they stick with you.
SCOTT: All right, time for a break.
When "News Watch" returns, Barack Obama promised a new kind of politics. How come some in the media say his administration is looking like "Back to the Future"?
ANNOUNCER: Barack Obama builds his transition team and his administration begins to take shape. What is the press saying about his picks? Next, on "News Watch."
(FOX NEWS BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAHM EMANUEL, PRESIDENT-ELECT'S CHIEF OF STAFF: I made a series of phone calls to both Democratic and Republican leaders to reach out. They say they know how to reach me. I've received calls not only from Democratic colleagues but from Republican colleagues, who could not have been nicer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Get used to seeing that face. You are going to be seeing him in the media a lot. President-elect Barack Obama's new chief of staff, Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, speaking with reporters this week about how his colleagues have reacted to his new job.
All right, how has the press reacted?
Judith, you've already seen so me of the reactions, what's the narrative developing?
MILLER: I think we've been hearing about Rahmbo a lot, Rahmbo Emanuel. And I think he's regarded by the press they know him as tough, very disciplined, as a natural for Obama.
PINKERTON: And there's more.
PINKERTON: I happen to have this book. It is called "The Thumping: How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution." It was published last year by Naftali Bendavid, who is the bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, who knows the subject pretty well. And if you read the book, this is a family television channel, I cannot quote more than three or four years of Emanuel without using the "F" word but suffice it to say this...
SCOTT: But I thought we were going to enter an era beyond the old partisan politics?
HALL: Several people were interviewed after this announcement and said, if this is Obama's idea of post-partisanship, what does this mean? Emanuel is saying, I'm capable of that. He was doing that then, he's doing this now. I think he has gotten critical initial press from people questioning the choice, but he's obviously close to Obama. And maybe Obama figures he needs him.
SCOTT: He served in the Clinton administration. Some in the media, Cal, are saying this is the third Clinton term.
THOMAS: There are a lot of Clinton retreads hanging around. If you want an enforcer, you want somebody like Rahm Emanuel. The problem is, if it's a Democrat, the press is going to treat him one way because they want those policies. But if it was a Republican enforcer they would treat him differently.
I agree. In one of the news reports I read, in the second paragraph talking of Rahm Emanuel, it said he's a foul-mouth and uses the "F" word a lot. How would you like to have that in your biography?
MILLER: I know the Israelis are happy with this selection today because his father...
HALL: His father, yeah.
MILLER: ... his father was an Israeli immigrant here. And the lack of experience, that was an attack on Obama. I think when you pick experienced people, you undercut that.
SCOTT: He himself volunteered for the Israeli forces.
PINKERTON: And as I observed on the FOX forum blog, as I predict, the more biographies of Obama come out, and they really study the Kenyan father, the Kenyan Muslim father, Indonesian Muslim step-father, there are going to be more revelations about Obama that the journalists and everybody didn't get around to do in the campaign. And Emanuel will come in handy then when it comes to tough...
THOMAS: Look, there's something that Judith said earlier — excuse me — that we to pick up on about when or if do the media start criticizing Obama? There's another strain here that nobody's brought up yet. He's an African-American. Huge, 97 percent of the African-American population in this country voted for him. The Democrats have a lock on the African- American vote. How much can the media criticize this first African- American historical president and get away with it, and not encounter the wrath of the African-American community? Will that hold them back from criticism they would normally give to him if he makes mistakes.
What do you think Judith?
MILLER: I think it is going to be tough.
THOMAS: Thank you.
MILLER: I think it's going to be very tough. I think the media, in part, because there are all these questions about whether or not people were too sympathetic towards him, whether or not we asked the right questions. I think they will feel honor bound to be tougher on him than they would be on other people.
SCOTT: We'll see.
Chuck Schumer, supposedly told — I believe it Cindy Adams wrote it in the New York Post that Schumer said four or five years ago, four years ago, Barack Obama, that's the next — that's the first black president of the United States.
PINKERTON: Look, you go back to that moment when they gave him the keynote address, I'm sure Hillary and Bill are sitting there in their cups...
SCOTT: They're stewing about that one.
PINKERTON: Exactly. It was obviously, a historic choice, and who knew, except maybe Schumer.
SCOTT: Anything surprise you about the way the press is covering this transition from one president to another?
HALL: I've been surprised that such a transition is taking place. Post 9/11 there is an interest in not having vulnerabilities, particularly at this time. I read several stories about it. I also read several good tick-tocks, as we call them, recreating what a nearly flawless campaign Obama ran, how he didn't expect Hillary to keep lasting, how he didn't expect Reverend Wright. But mostly, how well they ran this campaign. I think the discipline is something we didn't see. They didn't let that out from behind the curtain as much as now. I think it is going to show through.
SCOTT: All right, let's hope they handle the transition well too.
Time for another break. The press piles on Sarah Palin after John McCain loses the election. Is that fair? And then there's this.
ANNOUNCER: President Bush prepares to exit the White House. How is he being treated by the press? Next, on "News Watch."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Then there were reports that Sarah Palin, herself under pressure, and she was under enormous pressure, started to crack, is that true?
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. There are stories that say she would look at her press clippings in the morning and throw what has been described as tantrums. There were times she would be so nasty and angry at staff they virtually would be reduced to tears. There was the throwing of paperwork and things of this nature.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: Our own Carl Cameron speaking with Bill O'Reilly earlier this week.
Jim, we know John McCain lost the election. Now out come these stories in the press about Sarah Palin and why she was the problem. Why are we hearing that now?
PINKERTON: I've got to tell you, I have never seen anything like this. I've worked in five presidential campaigns, a reporter for many more, and I've never seen this level of knifing of a principal like this before. Assuming it is all true, which has yet to be proven — if these issues concerning expenses and so on can be demonstrated with credit card receipts and so on, I still wonder about the professionalism of people who would leak like this.
SCOTT: What's the purpose here?
HALL: You know, I hate to say it but, guess what, she is the first woman, and guess what, she's being accused of being a diva. They picked her. They knew what she knew. If she didn't know whether Africa was a country or continent, it ain't her fault. They picked her. That's my reaction to these stories. It's very unprofessional. And "Newsweek" had it and Carl Cameron had it and Hugh Miller had it. Surprise, surprise, they are leaking. I think it is really — I mean, it builds sympathy for her if anything.
MILLER: They have, conveniently, after it became irrelevant to most Americans.
MILLER: And also, by the way, women throw tantrums, men get angry. There's a lot of blame-the-victim here. She was clearly a liability. She turned out to be a liability. And now they are piling on. And I just don't get it and I don't have sympathy for her, but it is pretty stunning.
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