Transcript: 'FOX News Watch,' September 19, 2009

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This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Watch," September 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JON SCOTT, FOX HOST: On "FOX News Watch," scandalous and illegal actions caught on camera again and again and again. They rocked ACORN to its core.

A huge story, unless you're part of the mainstream media:


CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: I don't even know about it, so you've got me at a lost. I don't know.


Are political "czar" wars headed our way?


Are these "czars" advisers or are they policymakers?


SCOTT: Some in Congress asking hard questions about who these people are and how they got there. But is the press ignoring the controversy?

The president making a major media assault to push his health care plan again. Is this just more free air time or does he have something new to say.

Oh, yeah, when he has time for five other networks, why is he skipping FOX News?

And this guy's bad behavior gets a presidential reaction, but was it official?

On the panel this week, Marisa Guthrie, programming editor for Broadcasting and Cable magazine; syndicated columnist, Cal Thomas; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New America Foundation; and Kirsten Powers, New York Post columnist.

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


ACORN EMPLOYEE: It's not legal in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we got to — we got to make...

ACORN EMPLOYEE: You cannot say what you do for a living. Keep yourself employed in freelancing.


ACORN EMPLOYEE: You've got to start thinking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's very honest.

ACORN EMPLOYEE: Honesty is not going to get you the house.


SCOTT: An excerpt there showing employees of the anti-poverty community action group, ACORN, offering advice to a couple of undercover reporters about how to set up a brothel and a prostitution ring. Those videotapes, made public on the new web site,, but it took almost a week for the mainstream media to pay attention.

Kirsten, they didn't pay much attention until after the Commerce Department announced it was going to sever all ties relating to the census, sever all ties with ACORN.

Why did it take so long?

KIRSTEN POWERS, NEW YORK POST COLUMNIST: I don't have a great explanation for why it would take so long. It seems like something that would be relevant and something they would take an interest in. And I suppose aid have to be because it's an organization that they associate with doing liberal work or whatever it is, that didn't want to go after it. Because there's really no explanation.


JIM PINKERTON, FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I think Kirsten could be on to something here.


As Joe Conason, a leftist, wrote for Salon, he said, look, ACORN is a great group, it shouldn't be besmirched by a few bad apples and so on and so on. That explains why the biggest scandal I can think of, using new media techniques, you know, had to emerge from two 20-year-olds doing all this work because everybody else was too busy praising Obama.

SCOTT: Yeah, I mean, Cal, this wasn't "60 Minutes" or, you know, one of the programs doing this expose.

CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I was going to mention that. This used to be the bread-and-butter stuff for the broadcast networks. Mike Wallace and company would go in with hidden cameras. ABC would go into the food chain Food Lion to expose tainted meat. And this is what they did all the time. They defended against the same kind of charges, underhanded journalism, edited tapes that these people are getting. This is the kind of stuff the mainstream media used to do to root out corruption and fraud. They're not doing it anymore. And that's why, as Jim says, these two young people, who probably got the idea from other networks, did it. And more power to them.

SCOTT: Marisa?

MARISA GUTHRIE, PROGRAMMING EDITOR, BROADCASTING AND CABLE MAGAZINE: The mainstream media's been sued for secret-camera investigations. That's why, the main reason why they don't do it anymore. But I think the reason that the mainstream media was slow on the uptake is because ACORN and vilification of ACORN deserved, as we can see from some of the tapes, not all of it deserved, but some of it deserved, it was such a mission of the right and allowed the right wing pundits, at first, and so, I think that's clearly why the mainstream media resisted going there. Not saying it's right, but...

PINKERTON: You can just interpret what Marisa just said there as saying, look, if the conservatives are right about something, we're certainly, the liberal media, are not going to agree with them. We're not going to give them aid and comfort if they're right.

THOMAS: If you read The New York Times on Friday, the story buried on page A-16. It drips with condescension. There's nothing about the culpability or wrongdoing of ACORN. This was exposed by conservative right-wing talk show cable TV as if that's somehow reduces the culpability of those who were engaged in this scheme.

SCOTT: All right. And then there's the question of the "czars." Are we going to see more media coverage of all the "czars" that the Obama administration has put in place to help rule this country?

What do you think, Kirsten?

POWERS: I'm at a total loss to understand why people are so obsessed with the "czars." Presidents always have "czars," 46 of them.

GUTHRIE: Reagan started them.

POWERS: And what do people think is going on? Really, is there some secret "czar" conspiracy and they come to a secret location where they meet together?

SCOTT: Let's ask Jim what's wrong with the "czars"?


PINKERTON: Look, I think there have been "czars" in the past administrations. That's certainly true. But there's never been a government as big and ambitious and aggressive and as full of left wingers, like the former "czar," Van Jones, as the Obama administration. So the "czar" issue — I think, from the spin point of view, the Obama administration was foolish to let it get so big — is a stand in for concern about $10 trillion worth of deficits.

SCOTT: Yeah, some members of Congress are talking about it. Let's listen to what they had to say earlier this week:


REP. RANDY NEUGEBAUER, R-TEXAS: These "czar" positions, handed out like candy suckers, and they wonder what kind of accountability and transparency comes with these "czars," that this president ran on his campaign saying, we're going to be a very open, transparent administration. Yet these people show up and we know little about them. We know that they're getting pretty nice salaries, but we don't have information about them. And they're not accountable to maybe.


SCOTT: Maybe even the media. What about that, Cal?

THOMAS: I think he's right. Transparency, to be held accountable to the standard you set for yourself. I remember that wonderful line from "Fiddler on the Roof," where Tevye asked the rabbi, have you got a blessing for the czar, and the rabbi says, "May god bless and keep the czar," pause, "far away from us." I think that's what a lot of people wish would happen with this administration.

SCOTT: You got a smile out of Kirsten.


THOMAS: I live for that.

POWERS: That's a different kind of czars that they were talking about.

THOMAS: No kidding.


POWERS: Maybe.


SCOTT: All right, it's time for a break.

First though, be sure to check out the Web site where you can hear some verbal battling I get to referee in the studio during our breaks. Go to

We'll be back in two minutes to talk about how the press perceives race and the health care.

ANNOUNCER: As opposition grows against the president's health care plan, some on the left throw out the race card.




ANNOUNCER: And the liberal media plays along.

Plus, a rude rap star makes headlines and gets an unintentional presidential reaction. All ahead, on "News Watch."



PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My door is always open. But know this, I will not waste time with those who made the calculation that it's better to kill health care than to improve our health care system. (APPLAUSE). I won't stand by while special interests do the same old tricks to keep things exactly the way they are.


SCOTT: President Obama there on Thursday making a pitch once again for his health care plan. But, is it working? Maybe not so much.

As you can see, from the results of our latest FOX News Opinion Dynamics Poll, more Americans say they'd rather Congress do nothing than pass the Obama plan. 46 to 37 percent of those polled say they prefer the current health care system to the one proposed by the president. Could that be why he's not letting up on trying to sell his health care plan?

Tomorrow, President Obama will appear on all the Sunday talk shows, save one. He'll be on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and even Univision, but he will not be on "FOX News Sunday."

Jim, why do you suppose not?


PINKERTON: I don't think President Obama likes FOX News very much.

SCOTT: Really?

PINKERTON: I don't. And my evidence for that, among other things, is him saying during the campaign, that he thought FOX's coverage had cost him two or three points off his election totals. And I don't think their opinion has changed — the Van Jones thing, Glen Beck probably hasn't warmed them up to FOX one little bit.

SCOTT: Kirsten, you've said in the past that you think his campaign made a mistake by denigrating FOX News. Should he talk to us? Should he appear?

POWERS: Yes, I think he should. I think it seems very petty to say, I'm not going to talk to people who disagree with me or are critical of me. and I think if conservatives did that, they would have a very difficult time finding news outlets, frankly. You know, and I don't — and I just, you know, FOX has the biggest audience of cable news. and he should be trying to reach as many people as possible. It's just — it's like grow up.

SCOTT: The debate over health care took a very different course in the media this week after Maureen Dowd of The New York Times wrote, "Joe Wilson's outburst in Congress revealed one thing, some people just can't believe a black man is president and never will accept it."

Is it racism or is it an honest disagreement? In recent days, some, including former President Jimmy Carter, have suggested there is a racial element between — behind opposition to President Obama and his policies. Most Americans, however, don't see it that way.

Let's take a look at another poll from FOX News Opinion Dynamics. 65 percent think that opposition to President Obama's policies is based on honest disagreements. 20 percent say it is mostly motivated by racism.

All right, so, Cal, where is the racism charge coming from?

THOMAS: Well, if patriotism is the last refuge for scoundrels, as the left likes to say, maybe racism is the last refuge for liberals. I'd like to see an equal standard applied here, Jon, with Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice Clarence Thomas and a number of other African-American Republicans in a Republican administration. No one ever suggested that criticism by the liberal Democrats and the liberal media was somehow racist. If Barack Obama and his programs were succeeding, and he has a huge majority in Congress, you wouldn't be hearing about racism. The fact is, people are beginning to feel buyer's remorse. And that's what the problem is. So they try to invoke racism in order to end the discussion. It's not working.

SCOTT: Well, then came this comment from former President Jimmy Carter in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams:


CARTER: I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.


SCOTT: So those words really got the mainstream media going. If this plan doesn't make it through the Senate, doesn't, you know, really get off the ground, is it going to be because of racism, Jim?

PINKETON: I don't think so. But I guarantee that Maureen Dowd and Andrea Mitchell, who did the NBC report, are going to love to say it's racism defeated, that they would much rather trash middle America than actually see a health care plan get through. But it's worth noting that Obama, in 2008, got a higher percentage of the white vote than either John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000.

SCOTT: The White House, Marisa, seems to trying to be staying above the fray. They're not commenting on this racism thing.


SCOTT: Is that a good media strategy?

GUTHRIE: Yes, very good given what happens with Gates and Officer Crowley. Yeah, it's telling that they've disavowed Carter's comments. And Gibbs has totally deflected all questions about it. And Carter has a penchant or making inconvenient, some would say outrageous headlines. I think that the fact that there have been racist signs at some of the rallies has echoed in the media, hyper-speed echo chamber here. And Maureen Dowd maybe opened the flood gates. Carter piled in. I think it's, you know, it's more of our myopic media view.

SCOTT: When we've just elected our first African-American president by pretty much a landslide, is it wise to go back and start saying, oh, this country is racist?

POWERS: I mean, look, if the country is racist then we should — whether it's wise or not, it should be discussed. I don't think it's off limits. I do think that people have a very short memory though. Because, I remember a pretty vigorous opposition to Bill Clinton, and pretty much rejected the idea that he should even be president. I mean, that was essentially the vast right wing conspiracy attitude towards Clinton. And the hatred was so deep. And he was a white man and it's not — this isn't some new thing where, you know, people just hate Barack Obama. I mean, people hated Bill Clinton. They hated Hillary Clinton.

PINKERTON: I think there are a fair number of people who hated George Bush, too.


THOMAS: Yes, exactly.

SCOTT: All right, time for another break. Wait until you hear the discussion this time.

Well, first though, if you come across the story that you see is a blatant example of media bias, e-mail us, We'll take a look.

We'll be back with this question, if the most powerful man in the world says something un-presidential on a live mike, is that news or not?

ANNOUNCER: Twitter trips up the president. An off-the-record remark about Kanye West is heard around the world.

And who do you trust to deliver the news? That's next, on "News Watch."



TAYLOR SWIFT, COUNTRY SINGER: I always dreamed about what it would be like to maybe win one of these somebody, but I never actually thought that it would happen. I sing country music. So thank you so much for giving me a chance to win a VMA award.


KENYA WEST, RAP ARTIST: Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you. I'm going to let you finish. But Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time, one of the best videos of all time.


SCOTT: Rapper Kanye West there stealing the spotlight and even the mike at MTV's Video Music Award Monday. He rudely jumped up to interrupt poor country artist, Taylor Swift, as she's trying to say her thank yous after she won an award.

Viewers worldwide, pretty stunned by that low-class display, including the president, who commented on West's actions. President Obama said, "The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person. She's getting her award, what's he doing up there?

And then a CNBC reporter says, "Why would he do that? And President Obama replies, with the now-classic line, "He's a jackass."


The thing is, Mr. Obama's comments were made in the chat leading up to what was supposed to be a CNBC on-camera interview. The comments were heard by anyone watching the feed of that interview, including ABC's news guy, Terry Moran, who then sent the comments in a tweet on his Twitter page. The rest is history. I am told that he has a million followers on his Twitter page.

POWERS: More now.

SCOTT: Yeah, I guess.


The thing is, Kirsten, should that be off limits? The White House is pretty unhappy.

POWERS: You know, that's a tough one, because if the people are watching a live feed of something, then is it technically off the record? I don't — I don't know.

PINKERTON: Henry Blodget, who runs a blog called Silicon Alley Insider, was very smart. He said, listen, Obama knew exactly what he was doing and he knew it would get out. And it positioned him away from this racism, Jimmy Carter stuff. It said look, he's calling a black guy a you-know-what and that is good politics for him.

THOMAS: The sister solider moment, Jesse Jackson. But let's go back to the earlier segment. Here is an African-American man stealing time away and invading the space of a white woman. Was that a racist woman? Oh, no, I'm sorry, that can only happen the other way. Excuse me, I apologize.


GUTHRIE: I'm not sure it was as calculated as all of that. I think that Terry Moran did take a cheap shot. If you listened to the audio, it was that pre-interview banter that reporters engage in. But Obama didn't look bad for making the comment, because everyone agreed with him. But I just — I'm just not sure it was completely calculated.

SCOTT: When Ronald Reagan said we begin bombing into five minutes above a live mic, that was pre-radio address banter.

PINKERTON: Right. And I don't remember anybody saying how horrible it was that the media did that to Reagan. That's a good point.

SCOTT: And put it out there.

THOMAS: That's right. You can add, the mic is off to the other lies you shouldn't believe, I'm here from the government and I'm here to offer you — of course, I'll respect you in the morning, and the check is it in the mail.


SCOTT: Well, the news media, back in the news this week. A new poll from the Pew Research Center for the people in the press finds the public space and media credibility is sinking fast. According to the center, 29 percent of Americans think news organizations generally get the facts straight. A whopping 63 percent say the news stories they read, hear and watch are often inaccurate. That's the highest level registered since 1985 when Pew first began asking about public perceptions of the press.

So, why aren't we in the journalism business trusted anymore, Cal. You're the big syndicated columnist.


THOMAS: Look, I think being in the media means never having to say you're sorry, to coin a phrase.

This is the only profession where you continue to lose in ratings and circulation, and you keep on doing what you're doing. Just for economic reasons, they should wise up, but they don't. They're all part of a cult. They follow over the cliff into oblivion. And that's exactly where they're headed. There wouldn't be cable TV, at least at this level, there wouldn't be the kind of talk radio if they had not consistently and regularly disparaged and despised church-going, conservative, flag-waving NASCAR-loving people.


SCOTT: All right.

Kirsten — I'm sorry, Marissa, let's go to you, first. I think that Kirsten has something to say, too. But given the cliff that the media have fallen off. Is there anywhere to go?

GUTHRIE: Well, first of all, that question, the question — it was not distinguish between blogs, social media, Twitter and journalists. So the public doesn't make the distinction because it's all just one big loud, noisy, media universe. So I think that's part of the reason why those numbers are so low now.

SCOTT: So we're all part of the Huffington Post, is what you're saying?

GUTHRIE: Well, are you on Twitter?

SCOTT: No, actually, I'm not.


We have to take one more break. When we come back, a feel-good story catches the media's eye.


SCOTT: Now the coverage of the feel-good story of the week, a father and daughter catching a Phillies game in Philadelphia. Dad, a life-long fan of the champions, and finally, after years of waiting, a foul ball heads his way.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: He just missed that ball as he fouls that ball. Nice grab.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: The upper deck, popped by that fan right there. Nice grab. Whoa. There it goes.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Well, she's only doing what she sees them do all the time, and that is to throw the ball back.



SCOTT: And that story got all kinds of coverage.

Cal, you're a father, you're a grandfather, are you surprised?

THOMAS: I was. I think the reason it got so much coverage was the contrast with how we see men on television. You turn in Lifetime, they are rapists, they're covenant breakers, they're boorish, they're terrible.

Here is a guy who actually loves his daughter and a family man. What a concept.

SCOTT: Woo, what a concept.

POWERS: It's that liberal media, liberal Hollywood that's always ruining everything.

SCOTT: That must be it.


PINKERTON: I think what made it so special was that, after the girl threw the ball back on the field, he gave her the big hug. That was what turned it from a "Funniest Home Video" to a genuine "Hallmark-Card Moment."

SCOTT: Yeah, good reactions.

GUTHRIE: Can't go wrong, fatherly love and baseball.

SCOTT: There you go, all-American.

Jay Leno's new show debuted this week. He couldn't resist spoofing that special moment in Philadelphia. Here is his take.


JAY LENO, HOST, THE JAY LENO SHOW: Tim and I, we were at that very same game.


LENO: The exact same thing happened to us. We didn't wind up on YouTube. Well, here, show.



SCOTT: That is a wrap on "News Watch" this week.

Thanks to Marissa Guthrie, Jim Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Kirsten Powers.

I'm Jon Scott. Thanks for joining us. Keep it right here on FOX News channel. See you next week.

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