Friday Lightning Round: 2012 & the media

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 28, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week viewers vote for your choice online in this our Friday Lightning Round poll. This week 2012 and the media won with 45 percent of the vote. So this is kind of vague, but media and 2012. Jonah, what role do you think the media is playing in this race? Is it significant? Is it making a difference? And will it affect people's vote?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think it is significant. I think basically the mainstream media – and I used to be a professional media critic, has just gotten about as corrupt in the aggregate. There are specific individuals that are responsible people. But the way they covered -- particularly since the conventions where basically anything that inconvenient to the Obama campaign was cast as racist. There seems to be this mad rush to just simply declare Romney dead and move on. It's almost gotten to the point where you think MSNBC will announce if Romney doesn't pull out soon it will ruin his chances in 2016.

And I think in some ways the reason why it's getting so shrill is the mainstream media matters less. They have less of a control of the environment. I think a lot of people are writing it off. But it's sometimes breathtaking to see.

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: I don't know if MSNBC fits my definition of mainstream media, but there is a contradiction in what you just said Jonah. On the one hand you said they have a smaller audience which is true but on the other hand, but on the other hand their bias might be affecting this campaign. If the audience for the mainstream media smaller, the networks and the big newspapers, then presumably it's having less impact on public opinion.

GOLDBERG: But it is also controlling where the conversation goes, the campaigns pay attention to it, the straight political reporters pay attention to the climate it creates.

BAIER: Let me put up a couple of polls, number five -- news organizations are spending more time defending President Obama and attacking Romney 47 percent. Romney attacking Obama 16 percent, both – as you see 21 percent on the next one. Focusing more on presidential candidates or the news coverage, silly issues, serious issues. There you see the split, the news coverage silly issues dominating. Charles, your thoughts?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The role of the media in the campaign, they're an auxiliary of the Obama campaign. They ought to relocate to Chicago, they'd save travel time. If you look at specific issues and how they're covered, for example, in Charlotte, the removal of Jerusalem from the statement by the party versus the huge amount of coverage that Republicans were given over the abortion language. Or, for example, look at the way the media have covered the "bump in the road" comment, which if Romney have made would have been a story for a week, versus how they cover the Romney statement when the Cairo embassy issued this groveling statement about free speech and the video on the day of the first riot outside the U.S. embassy.

The coverage Obama got on his gaffe, which was I think was a major one, was minimal, it was almost ignored. The Romney story lasted for three days, at a time when U.S. policy in the region was in collapse, which was almost entirely ignored.

I think what we saw in the poll of how people conceive this is exactly right. They watch, and they see, and it's quite obvious which way the bias is going. In '08 I think you could excuse it as saying they were in the euphoria of the Obama campaign. There was the idea of the historic advent of the first African-American in the presidency. What is the excuse in 2012?

BAIER: Jonah, what about polls? That's the next topic. There is all this angst about polls, and how they're done, and that they're weighted toward Democrats. The Fox poll was Democrats plus three. Pollsters explain it different ways. People are upset that it's portraying a turnout model that is more modeled after 2008 and not perhaps this year. Your thoughts about fairness of the polls?

GOLDBERG: I think the pollsters, most of the pollsters are doing the best that they can. And a lot of them -- if you don't pick some screen, then you are basically just throwing a bunch of random numbers up. I mean you have to have some methodology. And the 2008 number -- the problem is, it's kind of like a magnet next to a compass. It's pulling things to mess up the measurements. The 2008 turnout for Obama was so huge that it affects all subsequent screens. And if you even factor it in weighted against other things, it still affects it.

What I look at now more than anything else in all this chaos is the independents. Because six months ago we were told the whole thing was going to be caught -- decided by independents. Independents are still split. And Mitt Romney in a lot of these swing states is actually decisively winning among independents. So whatever is going on with the Democrat plus -- Democrat screen, I don't know. But independents right now are still evenly split or Romney is winning them.

LANE: This reminds me of that famous comment, I think it was Pauline Kael, I think made back in 1972. How could Nixon have won? I don't know anyone who voted for him. A lot of the reaction, I think to these polls is from people who don't know anybody personally who is voting for the candidate they oppose. And then they look at a poll and they say how could this be happening? And in part I think this reflects the fact the electorate is so polarized and so sorted geographically that people really aren't aware that there could be significant numbers of people on the other side.

BAIER: Charles, quickly, polls are flashes in time, they tell people -- you don't say you're a Republican or a Democrat. You say which party do you identify with now? So that should factor in to people's thing...

KRAUTHAMMER: But that's always been true. And yet they are rather predictive if you look at past elections. I don't think there's any conspiracy. I think that's a mad idea. I think if you accumulate all the polls together, you get a fairly small margin of error if you add up all the numbers. So I think they are probably reflecting reality, unfortunately.

BAIER: Panel, thank you. When we come back, as I said, it's a different show, we will go step-by-step through the Libya narrative. What did the administration know? What did they say? What did they do? It's been a busy week on this story. We thought we'd wrap up the week like this.

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.