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Fox Asks Democrats - Make Your Message Clearer On The Spying On Americans Issue - But All Week We've Had Wall To Wall Coverage Of The President

Reported by Donna - January 27, 2006

Around 10 minutes after 3 p.m. yesterday afternoon Shepard Smith was musing about an upcoming story on the issue of President Bush spying on Americans without obtaining a warrant though he could legally obtain an instant wiretap and get the warrant up to 72 hours after the immediacy of the wiretap. Smith framed the upcoming story by asking , "Is it fair to say that the Republicans are killing the Democrats on this one?"

I don't know, is it? Or is it just that Fox covers the Republican message in mass doses over the Democratic one?

The segment came on about 3:15 p.m. and featured Smith and Juan Williams, frequent Fox News Contributor and Senior National Correspondent for National Public Radio. The following is my transcript:

Shepard Smith: President Bush again today defending his use of wiretapping without warrants, saying there is no doubt in his mind that they are legal and that they are necessary in the war on terror. (Comment: And this is the message that Fox has been driving home all week long) It's at least the third time this week that the president has spoke out on the issue. (Comment: We know, you've covered it extensively, did you give Democrats equal time? No) With us now from Washington is Juan Williams, Senior National Correspondent for National Public Radio and a Fox News Contributor and Analyst. Juan, good to see you.

Juan Williams: Good to see you.

SS: I'm going to leave the issue of legality alone for the moment because President Bush says that he was authorized to use any and all means necessary to fight the war on terror. (Comment: What?! That is the issue!) He says that's the way you go. The critics say otherwise. There will be Congressional investigations, we'll deal with that later. (Comment: How convenient)

More interesting to me now is the positioning of all this. And as an observer one might (chuckling) be able to suggest the Republicans are destroying the Democrats on this. They've reshaped the issue and it seems to be going away with (the) Democrats in retreat.

JW: Well, I think if you come down to the idea of should we be monitoring the terrorists, it's hard to find anyone who disagrees. I mean, yhou know, people might have different levels of priority in terms of terrorism domestic issues, but everyone says terrorism is an issue for the United States.

I think the bigger issue is how you get people reacting to the civil liberties part of it. And the Democrats of ....(words talked over by Smith)

SS:....Well, you know what, Juan, the problem is? It's those words, civil and liberties. You put those words civil and liberties together and everybody yells 'shut up, we're fighting a war.' Can't they come up with anything else? (Comment: Democrats don't need to come up with anything else except enforcing their message with 'breaking the law' and 'spying on Americans')

JW: Well, but, you know what? The polls don't say that, Shep. What the polls show is that Americans care about it. It's just that when you then say,'what do you do?' Should the president stop doing what he's doing? (Comment: Yes, he's breaking the law) They say, 'no, no, he should be doing what he's doing' but they worry that somebody there should be some kind of filter to make sure that, ok, you know that,...you know...that grannies phone call to her grandaughter is not being monitored.

SS: Well, it is. Has it been lost in the public discourse in your opinion, Juan, that if in fact they're listening to everything, it's just a matter of what they pull out and analyze. It's not like they actually have to tap a wire anymore. That's silly. (Comment: Get it, fox faithful? They're listening to everything, Shep just said so) But, is it lost in the public discourse that if you use this information that you can go back within 72 hours and get this warrant and that the point here is checks and balances? (His emphasis)

That one section of leadership in this country doesn't have too much power because, if not today, then some day down the road that power could be misused even abused? (Comment: Kudos to Smith, that's it, exactly)

JW: Absolutely, you know the next president, the president after that could be a dictator and that's what you want to avoid. (Comment: Or this president, Juan?) That's why you have checks and balances. That's really the heart of the story. And, I think ...(words overspoken by Smith)

SS:....But it seems to be lost, Juan. It seems to be lost under the umbrella of terror, gotta get it done. (Comment: The last five words seemed to be Smith trying to imitate the president) (Comment: Also, is this the repeat it enough times and it becomes truth, Fox's tried and true method?)

JW: Well, that's what it is. And then the president yesterday when he was out at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade in Maryland, he said that he (his emphasis) has a system of checks and balances protections in place but he never said what are those protections so they're not judges, they're not someone with the Senate oversight committee and that's why people just doubt it.

SS: Is....they have repositioned this argument, it has been given a new name. Many have suggested that this is no doubt the work of Karl Rove in repositioning the argument. Who's in charge of that repositioning for the other side?

JW: Well, you know, that's a problem because there is nobody right now. Even, as you said in terms of having hearings, it's a Republican, Arlen Specter, of Pennsylvania, head of the Judiciary Committee, who's insisting on having hearings. (Comment: Don't you have to be the head of a committee to call for hearings? And, isn't it true that all the committees are headed by Republicans because they are the majority? A Democrat couldn't call for a hearing if he/she wanted to)

At the White House you have seen how they've changed the language. You just did it, expertly. They've gone from the idea of wiretaps and domestic surveillance to now (the) surveillance of terrorists. I mean, that kind of language play is the way they are shifting the argument. And, I think they've got a winning in. That's why Rove has said he's gonna make the Republican Party for the 06 elections out to be the post 9/11 party. The party that's able and willing to protect America.

SS: Working so far. Juan Williams, thank you very much.

Comments: Thank you so much Smith and Williams for putting the Republicans stance out there so well and so often. Repeat something enough times and it becomes the truth. That is the Republicans motto. Well, Fox has made sure it's covered Bush wall to wall all week while he was delivering his 'message.' If the Democratic message is 'lost' as Smith says, then maybe they aren't covering the Democrats enough. Did you think of that, Smith?

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