In his June 15 nationally syndicated column, Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III defended Fox News host Neil Cavuto from criticism that he had lobbed "softball" questions to President Bush during a June 8 exclusive. Bozell insisted that Cavuto, host of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, asked Bush "some challenging questions" and that the interview "was no puff job." Bozell then cited specific "tough" topics Cavuto touched on with the president -- though without providing the actual questions -- and proclaimed that "anyone who didn't see substance and tough questions in this interview didn't watch it or read a transcript."
A transcript of Cavuto's interview with Bush is available here. Media Matters for America has reproduced below some of Cavuto's "tough questions" on the topics that Bozell cited from the interview:
Bozell: "Cavuto asked Bush about the latest bust of al-Qaeda suspects in California."
CAVUTO: On a more serious note, Mr. President, this morning, we got word of an Al Qaeda-linked cell potentially broken up in California. One of the participants in that cell supposedly was taking target practice off a picture of you.
CAVUTO: What did you think when you heard it?
CAVUTO: Do you suspect there are other such cells still operating in this country?
Bozell: "Cavuto asked about the economy (angering liberals by saying it's very strong)"
CAVUTO: Let me ask you about the economy, sir. Almost any objective read tells you that we`re still doing very, very well. Productivity is very high, had a strong GDP [gross domestic product] report. Retail sales are very, very strong. The unemployment rate, at 5.1 percent, used to be considered full employment, when Hubert Humphrey was alive.
CAVUTO: Do you think you get a bum rap in the media on the economy?
Bozell: "[Cavuto] also pressed on the Republican failure to pass an energy bill"
CAVUTO: But you've been warning about this, Mr. President. Four years ago, you said this. But you've had a Republican Congress to push these things through, and nothing.
BUSH: Well, listen, I share your frustration. We haven't had a national energy plan for years. And, as a result, we're dependent.
And so, four years ago, I called upon my administration to come up with a strategy and then to go to the Congress for that part of the strategy that required law. And you're right. It's been stuck in the Congress for four years. But, in parts of --
CAVUTO: Do you ever get mad at your fellow Republicans? Guys?
Bozell: "[Cavuto asked] whether Social Security benefits should be taken away from the rich"
CAVUTO: Well, do you think wealthier folks like you, when you retire, and maybe TV anchors too, should not get Social Security, or should have their benefits pared?
BUSH: No, I think you ought to get Social Security, because you paid into the system.
As mentioned, Bozell is the president and founder of the Media Research Center (MRC), a media watchdog founded on the premise that "liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values." Bozell is also the founder of Cybercast News Service (CNS). A division of the MRC, CNS purports to "provide an alternative news source that would cover stories that are subject to the bias of omission and report on other news subject to bias by commission." Bozell is also the president and founder of the Parents Television Council, which works to "ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media." In addition to being a nationally syndicated columnist, Bozell has authored a number of books on "liberal media bias."