Transcript: 'FOX News Watch,' September 13, 2008

This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," September 13, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JON SCOTT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Sarah Palin goes one-on-one with ABC's Charlie Gibson. What did the media make of her performance?

McCain and Obama put aside politics for a day. How did the press handle that?

Plus, two MSNBC anchors get bumped from the election desk. Did these two have anything to do with that?

And a certain magazine's cover curse. Is Tom Brady just the latest in a long line of victims?

On our panel this week, Jane Hall of the American University; syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor and writer for the "American Conservative" magazine; and Kirsten Powers, a "New York Post" columnist and "FOX News" analyst.

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


CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush -- what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view?

GIBSON: No the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war?

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying our nation.


SCOTT: There is vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin talking with ABC's Charlie Gibson in her first major television interview since becoming John McCain's running mate.

That particular question, Cal, seemed to me to be the best gotcha moment of the interview. What did you think of the job that Gibson did overall?

CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think he was fine. He is a real journalist who did a serious job. I think he asked the kind of questions that most people wanted an answer to. I think he went a little far on the God thing. And I think the Bush doctrine question was legitimate. Most people, who are adults at the time of 9/11, know that the Bush doctrine means that if somebody is coming after you with the intent of doing harm, you take them out before they get the opportunity to do it. That's all she had to say. That summarizes it, I think.

SCOTT: Kirsten, you said you wanted to hear some other questions. You didn't necessarily like the questions he was asking.

KIRSTEN POWERS, NEW YORK POST COLUMNIST & FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought he was asking questions like do you think Georgia should be part of NATO, which she would just tell us whatever John McCain's position is. she won't tell us what her worldview is or what she thinks about things. It is sort of like a quiz. And I don't think it's that helpful. On the God stuff, he was completely out of line. He was misquoting her and taking it completely out of context. I will say that I didn't feel reassured by her, but I also think that the interview, it was clearly -- he seemed so contemptuous of her.

SCOTT: Jane, you have moved from journalism to academia these days and I want to read a quote from Alessandra Stanley. This is what she wrote in "The New York Times." See what you think about this. She said, "Charlie Gibson had the skeptical and annoyed tone of a university president who agrees to interview the daughter of a trustee but doesn't believe she merits admission." All right. So what do you think? Was there sexism? Was he patronizing in his tone?

JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I don't think it was sexism. I think it was maybe classism. I think that -- I thought that was a very apt description and I think that was a funny thing she said. He ran the risk of that. I thought, watching it as a citizen, wow, there's a lot she doesn't know and it was revealed. And she looked nervous and it's the first time they had her out without a speech written for her, which all candidates have. But I thought she looked not quite ready for prime time.

But he runs the risk of looking contemptuous and patronizing and I thought the material about what she said about, this is a mission from God, was really taken out of context. And I think a lot of people think the media are anti-religion. And you know, I noticed Martin Bashir, when he introduced it on "Nightline," the second thing he said about her was she was a Christian, like she was an infidel or something.

THOMAS: Alien.

SCOTT: Let's listen to the thing that he had to say about hubris. This was in one of his early questions during the "World News Tonight."

Take a listen to this. Then I want your reaction, Jim.


GIBSON: Can you look the country in the eye and say I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just a vice president but perhaps president of the United States of America.

PALIN: I do, Charlie. And on January 20, when John McCain and I are sworn in, if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, we'll be ready. I'm ready.


SCOTT: All right, we didn't get to the hubris part, but when he asked her, when John McCain said I want you to be my vice president -- we have it now? Here we go. Take a listen to what she had to say.


PALIN: I didn't hesitate, you know.

GIBSON: Doesn't that take some hubris?

PALIN: I answered him yes, because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink. You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war.


SCOTT: Hubris. That's an interesting choice of words. what you think, Jim.

JIM PINKERTON, COLUMNIST AND WRITER, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE MAGAZINE: I think it was an attempted gotcha question by Charlie Gibson. He was hoping that she'd say, oh, I hesitated, I have doubts, and I am not ready to be president. And they would have creamed her.

But just to pick up what Jane said, if you look up classism in the dictionary, you will see liberal snobbery. You'll see -- you'll see...

HALL: Not in my dictionary.

PINKERTON: OK, in my dictionary. You will see obviously this woman is a right wing nut from Alaska and she's not ready to be president and so Charlie Gibson will find polite ways to ask gotcha questions to try and prove that. He failed.

SCOTT: The McCain campaign obviously -- go ahead, Cal.

THOMAS: I was going to say there's an interesting double standard here when we're dealing with women. 1984, when Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman on a national ticket, "The New York Times" had a totally different editorial approach than they did with Sarah Palin. They did not talk about her fitness or readiness or any female qualifications in 1984 in their editorial, but this time they are all over the place saying that that ought to be the primary standard for selection as vice president.

SCOTT: Jane?

HALL: I think that one of the things that has happened is that Sarah Palin, because she has been questioned by columnists, the McCain campaign is able to say, you should show deference toward here. Now, is that sexism in reverse? That's what they said, a reporter would have to show deference. I think we are on very strange turf here.

PINKERTON: It could be that the McCain campaign has figured out that the big dynamic in this election, as I said the past, is anti-media feeling, populist anti-media feeling.


PINKERTON: Why shouldn't the McCain people tell reporters buzz off?

SCOTT: Everybody hates us in the media.

Time for a break. First, if you want to hear what were talking about during this commercial, go to her web site, But be sure to support our advertisers anyway. We will be back with this.

ANNOUNCER: Presidential candidates take a break from partisan attacks on an infamous day. Did the news media do the same? Answers next, on "News Watch."




SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans are so frustrated now with our government. 84 percent of the American people think the country is headed in the wrong direction. The approval rating of Congress is down to 9 percent, I believe, down to blood relatives and paid staffers. (LAUGHTER). And this is an opportunity. This is an opportunity to lead the nation and talk to the American people and reform our government and ask for more service.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have got to transform Washington. And we have got to do some housecleaning. But what we also want to do is to remind young people that if it weren't for government, then we wouldn't have a Civil Rights Act. If it weren't for government, we would not have the interstate highway system. If it weren't for government, we would not have some of our parks and natural wilderness areas that are so precious to America. So part of my job, I think, as president, is to make government cool again.


SCOTT: Coming clear from both Barack Obama and John McCain responding to questions at a presidential forum on service in New York on Thursday, which was the seventh anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

Kirsten, it was a day sort of without partisan politics. Was that a brilliant media strategy on the part of those two candidates?

POWERS: Well, I guess so. Although I don't know how much it really was without -- I mean, I think the media sort of picked it up because I still heard a lot about the lipstick on the pig thing. And they say, oh, we're not going to talk about the lipstick on the pig thing. And them they talk about the lipstick on the pig thing.

SCOTT: But did it put that issue to bed?

POWERS: I think it helped Obama in the sense that there was a break and we moved on. It seems to be catching momentum and it could've rolled on a couple more days, but it stopped.

PINKERTON: I think both candidates are to be admired for participating in that very moving event at Ground Zero on 9/11. But as those two clips showed, politics is still very much got in there. McCain got his points about the wrong track, that he is a change from Bush that people are wanting without having to go so far to the left as Obama. And Obama saying, I want to make government pool again. Well, if that's not an opening for big government to come back, what is? So they got a chance to make their respective points even in a somewhat high-toned and frankly dull setting.

THOMAS: The interrogators are letting both of these guys, McCain and Obama, get away with generalities. They're talking about change. They're going to reform Washington. How are they going to do that? There are 535 members of Congress, there is the Supreme Court, there are lobbyists and lawyers, there are entrenched interests in Washington. These guys are going to come on a white horse and wave the wand, make government cool against and fix everything. I would like to hear a follow-up question: how are you going to do that?

SCOTT: Are the media not doing their job not holding their feet to the fire?

HALL: So far, they are not holding their feet to the fire. And I think this whole lipstick on the pig commercial tactic by the McCain campaign -- when Obama said it was catnip for the media, it is true. After that 9/11 forum, I saw a lot of reporters say, gee, that was nice but it was dull. Bring back something interesting to me, as opposed to what's really important.

SCOTT: He had to know when he used that phrase, even though it has been used by others, including John McCain, in the current context, after she made it such an iconic piece of her convention speech, he had to know he was going to get beat on it.

HALL: But the fact is the McCain campaign jumped on it in three minutes and it was all over the place.

PINKERTON: That's known as good campaigning. Look, there are certain...

HALL: They're not as negative attacks.

PINKERTON: Or negative attacks, your choice. Obama seems -- and it shows his experience -- naive about what happens when you open your mouth and say the wrong thing. Like when you talk about faces on the dollar bill. The McCain campaign jumped in 15 minutes later on the playing the race card thing, and now this example of lipstick on a pig. You've just got to know how the media works.

Look, reporters -- let's be honest here -- aren't interested in issues of substance. They want the conflict, the fight, the ratings. A McCain commercial 10 minutes after Obama stops talking is ratings.

SCOTT: So the next big sort of non commercial thing we're going to have is the presidential debates on September 26th, I think it is.

Kirsten, does that mean -- there aren't going to be any reporters there, just a moderator. So without reporters, are we going to get more of a campaign, you know, talking points spouted by both of these two?

POWERS: Yes, I think we will. That's the problem. You are exactly right. They are interested in controversies. I don't hold that against the McCain camp for jumping on that. I do hold the McCain camp guilty for some of their other advertisements they're running against him that I think are really distorted, like the one about sex education for kindergartners when, in fact, it was meant to try to protect children -- you know, let children know how to fight off predators. There is stuff that is externally dishonest. Also suggesting Obama himself has sexist attacks. I'd just been saying that had said that when, in fact, they didn't.

PINKERTON: There's a point on the commercial and that is when you say age-appropriate sex education, as interpreted by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, who knows what you'll get. And that's what McCain ad was referring to.


HALL: ... sex by preschoolers.


PINKERTON: ... any shortage of sex education for little kids in American public schools.

HALL: It was about predatory touching.


SCOTT: All right.

We have to take a break. You can listen to more of this during the break, We will be back in two minutes with this.

ANNOUNCER: Slap down at NBC. Two loudmouth peacocks get their feathers plucked and thrown off political coverage. Were these two big birds behind it? Details next, "News Watch."


SCOTT: Here is one election anchor team we won't be seeing together anymore in this election cycle. MSNBC announcing this week that hosts Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews have been bumped from the anchor desk when MSNBC covers presidential debates and other special events in the future.

So Jane, did that network make the right call in giving those two guys the boot?

HALL: I think it did because they were taking a lot of heat. I understand that Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams and others at NBC were uncomfortable with the way Bill O'Reilly and others were going after them night after night, I think legitimately, about how can you have people trashing Bush then anchoring the Republican convention. You really can't. There are some lines that are still sacred and that is still a sacred line they were crossing.


THOMAS: I'm just amazed that it took them this long to wake up to an obvious fact. At least Olbermann has another job. he can be a football commentator at NBC along with those other guys.

SCOTT: Well, and after the tingle went up the leg of Chris Matthews on a...

THOMAS: Thrill of Obama, thrill up the leg.

SCOTT: Thrill up the leg.

PINKERTON: I thought what was interesting is Felix Gillette, who writes for the "New York Observer" had a behind-the-scenes take and he said, look, not only was it obvious on the air that Matthews and Olbermann had moved MSNBC -- and Rachel Maddow -- way to the left, but that people like Tom Brokaw, like Brian Williams, like Andrea Mitchell had been complaining internally to not only Phil Griffin at MSNBC, but also Steve Capus, the head of "NBC News," Jeff Zucker, the chairman of "NBC Universal." And Jeff Immelt, who owns General Electric, all of them knew...

SCOTT: He runs it.

PINKERTON: He runs the whole -- he's the overall corporate czar. And they all knew about these complaints and were happy as long as they thought they were getting ratings, until the meltdowns at the conventions when they had to pull the plug. This was a decision consciously made at the very highest levels of G.E., NBC.

SCOTT: But, Kirsten, there were all kinds of liberal bloggers who said Jeff Immelt and NBC and G.E. were caving into the McCain campaign.

POWERS: Well, God help us if we listen to liberal bloggers. I think they had a serious credibility problem and it was staining the reputation of serious journalists. There is nothing wrong with Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann having a show and having a liberal perspective. We have Sean Hannity and that's perfectly fine. In fact, there's nothing wrong with Rachel doing commentary. I don't think there's any problem with that.

Where you had a problem is you have them anchoring situations where they are supposed to be playing straight journalists, and they are not.

PINKERTON: It was a little strange to see not only do they hate Bush and McCain, they hated Hillary Clinton. It was just the left sliver of the Democratic Party they were speaking to.

SCOTT: Equal opportunity haters.

All right, here's another topic we want to get into: Can you trust what you read on the Internet? A couple of stores got a lot of attention this week.

First, Internet rumors that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin tried to ban books from the Wasilla library, the town where she was mayor.

Then, United Airlines was almost sunk on Monday when an old story from six years ago turned up about the airline supposedly filing for bankruptcy. The airline stock plummeted from 12 bucks to 2 bucks before traders were alerted that the story was out of date.

How does stuff like that happen, Jane? Is that a new era we are into now, no filters?

HALL: I was surprised that Bloomberg had a third-party provider who put the story up and then it somehow -- it's like that childhood game of gossip, by the time it got out, people thought it had come from the "Wall Street Journal."

SCOTT: It was an accurate story. It was just six years old.

HALL: Right. It was true at the time.

But the difference on Sarah Palin thing is I think -- I've seen an e- mail that people have been circulating from someone who knew her as a PTA president. People are trying to find out something about her. I had read that she tried to ban books. it turns out that's not really the story.

POWERS: Almost every story we have seen about her has started as an Internet rumor. That's what's truly astonishing. "The New York Times" had to run a retraction about the Alaska Independence Party. We've seen it over and over.

HALL: They all start on the Internet.

POWERS: They all came off of the Internet. There is no research done.

PINKERTON: Networks have to work hard to keep their brand protected. Bloomberg also made a mistake on Steve Jobs being dead a couple of weeks ago. It is an ongoing challenge that every news portal, "FOX News" and everybody else -- has to keep it accurate.

SCOTT: We have to take one more break. When we come back...

ANNOUNCER: The S.I. cover curse claims another as one of the NFL's superstars goes down in pain. Is this jinx for real? That's next, on "News Watch."


SCOTT: This year there has been talk of a Sports Illustrated cover curse and the latest victim could be Tom Brady. He has been on the cover of seven times, but this latest issue? Well, after this cover shoot on September 1, Brady suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of the opening game.

Some more examples, January 21, 2008, Bret Favre was on the cover. And then Packers lose to the New York Giants and skip a trip to the Super Bowl after Favre's interception in the closing drive.

And January 14, 2002, Michael Jordan, as that issue went to press, his wife filed for divorce.

October 14, 1974, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar misses 15 games with hand and eye injuries after he was featured on this NBA preview issue.

Believe us now? Well, if this jinx is legitimate, maybe the editors can set up a photo shoot with this guy, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is coming to New York in a of couple weeks for the U.N. General Assembly.

Sports Illustrated, just a suggestion.

That's all the time we have left this week.

I want to thank Jane Hall, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Kirsten Powers.

I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for joining us. Keep it right here on FOX News Channel. The "FOX Report" is up next.

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