Is Joe Biden running for president? Piers Morgan loses his CNN show

Is topic valid?


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," March 1, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the buzz meter this Sunday, Joe Biden starts dropping hints about running for president no matter what Hillary Clinton does and gets a warm welcome from the media. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is one about to kiss the vice president? Say thank you. BIDEN: Oh, I'd love that. (END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: But is there enough skepticism about Biden? He will be 74 at election time, and is it fair for pundits to point out that Hillary will turn 69 just before the election? Stephen Colbert makes fun of me for daring to raise the question. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST OF 'THE COLBERT REPORT': I know it's rude to talk about a woman's age, but that's not what I am doing. I am talking about people talking about other people talking about other people talking about a woman's age. That's called journalism. (END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: Nice try, Stephen. I'll respond to the libel by this fake anchor. Piers Morgan losing his show on CNN and blaming the moving part on his crusade for gun control. But did he shoot himself in the foot? Plus, the latest on how the military are covering the military showdown between Russia and Ukraine. I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is "MediaBuzz." We'll get to the tense situation in Ukraine in a few moments. The vice president of the United States hits the television circuit this week, and the inevitable 2016 questions were asked. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SETH MYERS, HOST OF 'LATE NIGHT': You've been very open about talking about 2016 and considering what you're going to do. Where are you in your thought process? What are you taking into account? BIDEN: Well, you know, I was planning on making a major announcement tonight, but I decided tonight is your night. MYERS: Thank you. BIDEN: And so -- MYERS: Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: And then it was off to "The View," where Biden had fun with the soon-to retire Barbara Walters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST OF 'THE VIEW': Do not expect you to come on this program and announce that you're going to run for president. I won't object if you want to. Do you want to? BIDEN: I'll tell you what, make you a deal. If you stick around, I will announce my decision with you. WALTERS: If Hillary does not run, will you -- you have said that if she runs for president, you will not run. BIDEN: No, I haven't. No. (END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: So how are the media covering this little dance? Joining us now, Lauren Ashburn, Fox News contributor and author of the "Top Twitter Talk" column. Amy Holmes, who anchors The Hot List for the Blaze. And Dana Milbank, columnist for the Washington Post. So what do you make of these headlines, Biden may run if Hillary doesn't? LAURA ASHBURN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: He needs to stay relevant, he needs to keep his options open, but he's not going to run if Hillary Clinton does run. You know, I think that this might be his last campaign, 2014, and that he needs to be a part of it. KURTZ: So why are the media buying into this? Or are they? ASHBURN: You know, that's a really good question. I think we all know better. I think we all know that the people who seem like they're campaigning are the ones who probably aren't campaigning, and the ones who aren't campaigning right now may be the ones who will be campaigning. KURTZ: Let me write that down. (CROSSTALK) KURTZ: It was said the White House had banished Biden from doing national media and national television for a long time. Seth Myers, you go on that show for laughs, all right, but he didn't exactly get tough questions on The View, Biden? AMY HOLMES, THE BLAZE: Do Democrats generally get tough questions on The View? It tends to be a very cozy little coach there. And he's vice president of the United States. He did get criticism, however, for pandering to women on The View. I didn't agree with that criticism. I think we know the vice president has this sort of hokey, folksy way of trying to ingratiate himself. He does it when it comes to race, he does it when it comes to gender, and it's sort of like Washington seems to regard him as old uncle Joe, and he always gets a pass. KURTZ: Speaking of old uncle Joe, when Biden misspeaks, as he does occasionally, the media mostly seem to yawn. For instance, on the View, the Congressional Budget Office, predicted Obamacare would cost 2,000 jobs, not 2 million. DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Just a few zeros. Give the guy a break. He's getting on in years, Howie. Are we allowed to talk about a man's age? (LAUGHTER) ASHBURN: Apparently not. MILBANK: I was kidding. But look, I think we're in the stage now where we in the media, we don't want Hillary to run away with the Democratic nomination. We need to build up challengers. And I don't think people really think Joe Biden, a, is going to run or, b, if he does run, will be a viable challenger to Hillary. But we've got to make it an interesting race. So this is the time when we build up candidates. And if he gets built up, we knock him down. KURTZ: I am stunned that you're suggesting we are artificially injecting suspense into the race. ASHBURN: The media manipulating something? Imagine that. KURTZ: All right, but you mentioned, is it fair to talk about a man's age? Also questions about is it fair to talk about a woman's age? When I did a story for "Special Report" this week about growing questions raised by detractors and some pundits about Hillary Clinton's age. Stephen Colbert decided to take me on. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COLBERT: Fox News has just uncovered a bombshell of a lifetime. BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Howard Kurtz looks at the controversial question of how old is too old. KURTZ: The age question is growing louder than just a whisper, raised by former candidate and now Fox News host, Mike Huckabee. HUCKABEE: Look, she's going to be at an age where it's going to be a challenge for her. KURTZ: If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nomination for president, she'll turn 69 just before the election. COLBERT: That's right. Fox News is ready to project that in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton will be two years older. I mean, 69? That is old, like old, old. (END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: Listen, Colbert, I asked whether it was fair for commentators to harp on her age. I guess that was too nuanced for your black and white view of the world. And you mentioned Reagan's age, Ronald Reagan was 69 when he took office. I played a clip of the Gipper, it's more than you did. And what about the fact that I was quoting Charlie Cook, the columnist? It didn't fit your comedic narrative, did it? So, look, even fake anchors should have standards. You, sir, were not even truthy. And if you want to invite me on your show to talk about it -- (CROSSTALK) ASHBURN: That's what this is about, Kurtz. KURTZ: He took me on. (CROSSTALK) ASHBURN: But you didn't have to take him on. KURTZ: But let's take on the issue. Charlie Cook wrote in the National Journal, is Hillary Clinton too old to run? Noting that at the end of her first term, she will be 73, at the end of her second term, she'll be 77. Some people are saying this is sexist. ASHBURN: Big deal. She's a candidate for president, or potentially, if you want to go there. But, you know, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. Everybody knows what her age is. It should be talked about, as should her record with Benghazi, as should her time as the first lady, as should be her time with Whitewater. Right? It's all part of the narrative. HOLMES: And no, it's not sexist. As we know, some questions were raised about Ronald Reagan, about John McCain back in 2008, and Dana on this very show about Joe Biden. Clearly, it's equal opportunity when it comes to the age question. KURTZ: And don't forget Bob Dole. HOLMES: Right. Bob Dole. And also interestingly in the Politico magazine profile of the vice president, one of his own inner circle raises the question of Hillary Clinton's health. So this is also coming from the Democratic side of the ledger. MILBANK: I disagree, Howie, I think you made a rookie mistake, and as you get older, with more experience, you're not going to make that mistake again. KURTZ: All right. Well, I'll try to bring a young person's dedication and intensity to the game here. ASHBURN: And that may not be you. KURTZ: Thanks for pointing that out. You mentioned Hillary Clinton's health. We have no reason to believe at this point that she's having any health problems. She obviously had that concussion more than a year ago. So I see this banner headline on drugs. Is she sick? And it links to a story in the Daily Caller website that says whispers persist, Hillary won't run, health may be worse than disclosed. The sorry cites rumors, supermarket tabloids, National Enquirer piece from 2012 saying she had brain cancer. ASHBURN: I think that anybody who doesn't like Hillary is going to use whatever they can to make their case and this is a case in point. KURTZ: Some on the right, this Caller article, says have been convincing themselves that Hillary is sick and therefore won't run. Not a single new fact here. Would you broadcast anything like that? HOLMES: If you don't know anything about whether or not she is ill or has any sort of health issues, of course you don't report it. But also, the Hillary camp has been a bit cagey about the health issues. In terms of when she was in the hospital and explaining this. As I mentioned, even Joe Biden's camp has raised the health questions. So it's not just coming from the right, and it is a legitimate question if there's something there, but we simply don't know at this point. KURTZ: Well, the -- HOLMES: And by the way, The National Enquirer was right about John Edwards. KURTZ: The National Enquirer has been right about a number of scandals, but not about her alleged brain cancer. And the Caller, to its credit, did quote a Clinton spokesperson, who said very caring of you to ask, she's 100 percent. Now, what about the whole flap over first released thousands of pages from the Clinton presidential library? We're going to see more of these papers, with all kinds of advice to Hillary about the media going back into the 1990s, don't be defensive, seem real, we should all tell Hillary anecdotes that humanize her, make her look like she isn't in a bunker mentality. She has an aversion to national media. How relevant is that today? MILBANK: The news that she considered going on "Home Improvement" could be just devastating for her presidential ambitions. Look, it is silly. There are thousands of pages of documents coming out. Everybody is hoping to find that needle in the haystack. This didn't really come up with anything here. This is stuff that happened 20 years ago. And of course we know that's how she was then, and that's how (inaudible). ASHBURN: I would argue that Diane Blair's notes, which came out earlier from -- had actually been sitting in the University of Arkansas archives, where she said that the press has big egos and no brains is more important than what her advisers are saying she should do. KURTZ: Which part of that is not true? HOLMES: What's fascinating about this is how the press glommed on to the stories about how Hillary thinks about the press. It reminds me of middle school frenemies that are obsessed with watching one another and asking each other, how do I look? Do I look good today? And was she talking about me? So all these stories about Hillary Clinton were really about Hillary and the press. ASHBURN: There is another point to this, which is this makes Hillary Clinton, speaking of age, look old. She has been around for a long, long time as this points out. She has been through many different campaigns. And Nico Mallet (ph) wrote a book, he's a social media guru, in which he said that big isn't big anymore, and that if you are a candidate who has all of this experience, then you probably aren't going to hit it with the Internet age. KURTZ: Well, I just think that the idea that politicians get advice from their aides on how to deal with the press, is like what politician doesn't do that? And everybody wants to seem real. And -- HOLMES: But she seems to struggle with it a bit more according to her own aides. KURTZ: Well, in the 2008 campaign, I think she was very aware of the national media and very cautious, and I think that hurt her, and something that she'll have to grapple with if indeed she runs. I want to squeeze in one more topic here, and that is Bill O'Reilly went to the White House this week. He went there in support of an initiative by the president to want something called My Brother's Keeper, which is aimed at helping young black men or young minority men, I should say, and deal with the problem of dysfunctional families and out of wedlock babies, kind of an odd couple, isn't it? Even the president said gee, O'Reilly and Al Sharpton in the same room, we must have some unity here. HOLMES: The lion can lie down with the lamb. I'm not sure which is which. This actually harkens back to me to the President Obama that I think was the person who burst on the national stage in 2004, who appealed to both sides of the aisle. KURTZ: Talk about it in terms of O'Reilly's involvement. (CROSSTALK) KURTZ: Fox is not the president's favorite network. A lot of people would be surprised that he's showing up and having Valerie Jarrett on his show and getting behind a critical initiative. HOLMES: I think it's a mutually beneficial relationship. ASHBURN: And I say good for both of them. HOLMES: Standing next to the president raises Bill O'Reilly's profile. MILBANK: And it was just a few weeks after what was quite a hostile interview Bill O'Reilly did with the president. KURTZ: Hostile or contentious? MILBANK: I'll give you contentious. Fine. But it wasn't a pleasant experience for this president, and he has Bill O'Reilly over to the White House. And I think they're both saying we're grownups here, and we know we're both playing our roles in that interview, and now we're going to find a common cause. ASHBURN: Didn't you get into a little trouble for -- (CROSSTALK) MILBANK: I believe I was called by Mr. O'Reilly a weasel beneath contempt. As opposed to the contemptible type of weasel. KURTZ: I think O'Reilly took a risk here, because a lot of the Fox News audience does not like President Obama, and he was willing to say I will work with him on this issue. A lot of people might say this is a do- gooder, big government, sticking its nose where it does not belong kind of an issue. But I think it was interesting that O'Reilly was there. Let me get a break. Send us a tweet about our show during this hour. I'm Howard Kurtz. Maybe yours will get on the air. And check out our new home page,, where we post show highlights, original video, transcripts and respond to your email questions. When we come back, the media scramble to cover Russia's military march into Ukraine and the debate over President Obama's response. And later, how Piers Morgan talked himself out of a job. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KURTZ: Thousand of Russian troops in the Crimea section of the Ukraine this morning as the West, US try to figure out what to do. The media try to grapple with this fast moving story that not many people on this side expected. And Lauren, the New York Times and CNN have a lot of -- are kind of built for this kind of international story. MSNBC showed once again it's not really a news channel. It's been in taped programming much of the weekend. But overall, there are few journalistic boots on the ground in the Crimea, and I think the situation is murky, and that makes it hard to cover. ASHBURN: It is hard to cover unless you're covering it through social media. But I think this is going to be one of the biggest tests of President Obama's career as president. And that the coverage that we're seeing is not as big as maybe Arab spring, and maybe it is because it broke on a Saturday. Yesterday was the day and there weren't a lot of people in the news room. I think you'll see a lot more on Monday. But I also think our appetite for international news has not, as an American people, always been as strong. KURTZ: That is certainly true because the situation with the coup or the toppling of the prime minister in Ukraine certainly has been brewing for some time now. And it's been covered, but it hasn't been a dominating story. Now, the White House put out this photo. We could put it up on the screen of President Obama having what was described as a 90-minute phone call with Vladimir Putin, part of his effort to show he's on the job. But I wonder, Amy, whether you think that the way the media have gone to the default position, that this is either Obama being strong or Obama being weak, and let's debate Barack Obama rather than say, keeping the focus on a very dicey international military situation in Ukraine. HOLMES: I think the media has been chewing gum and walking at the same time and giving a lot of in-depth, specific information about the crisis. Now that Vladimir Putin has stepped in. When it was the Ukraine, sort of civil unrest, we only saw spotty coverage. But now that Vladimir Putin, the big Russian bear, has rolled in his military, I think the media is properly framing this in the context of President Obama, his response to this, whether or not it will be muscular or weak, and Dana Milbank's paper, the Washington Post, has actually been pretty tough on the president saying we need the rhetoric to hit the road on this, Mr. President. And this also of course comes in the context of the president fumbling Syria. So while that might have gone into the memory hole, it's bubbling right back up in terms of a test of the president's leadership. KURTZ: The White House sent John Kerry to Meet the Press this morning, and he talked tough and he said Russia might even be kicked out of the G-8 alliance of nations and we're going to try and isolate Russia, this one is a phony pretext. And Lindsay Graham on CNN was very critical of President Obama. I just wonder, given that there are to be really honest about it limited military options for the U.S., just as when Russia went into Georgia during the Bush presidency, whether it's just too easy for the pundits to say, well, let's grade President Obama on how he's doing. MILBANK: Yes. I think we're in the stage now where everybody is sitting back and watching what the president is doing so they know how to criticize him. Do they criticize him for talking too tough or not talking tough enough? Do they criticize him for not taking action or do they criticize him for taking action to distract from Obamacare? There's going to be -- or from Benghazi or whatever it is. There's going to be criticism even though we all pretty much accept that there's not a whole lot that the United States can do here. HOLMES: Certainly, there will be critics of the president -- KURTZ: I'm not saying there shouldn't be criticism, but I think that criticism should be leavened with like, what does the other side want to do? Send US troops-- (CROSSTALK) HOLMES: But that's not the only option on the table. That's certainly not the only options that conservatives are talking about. They're talking about economic sanction on Russia, on Russian elite, giving economic help to the new Ukrainian government. That's something-- KURTZ: Only conservatives are talking about that? HOLMES: And the Washington Post and the New York Times and other places. So it's a false choice to say either send in the military or do nothing. And I think the press is actually doing a good job of fleshing out what some of those other issues are. KURTZ: What about social media? ASHBURN: I think this case is going to be a textbook case, because a lot of the battle is being fought on social media. "Euro Maidan" PR as it's called, Euro Maidan is really putting out some very graphic pictures here. KURTZ: Take a second to explain what Euro Maidan is. ASHBURN: Euro Maidan is the term for the war that's happening or the war that's about to happen. KURTZ: Right. But these people are Ukrainians who support the interim government or are happy that the previous president was toppled. ASHBURN: That's true. KURTZ: And, of course, want Russia to stay out. ASHBURN: And they're saying beaten activists forced to kneel and then beaten again. And you're getting some people who are showing the, look at this, the Olympic mascots on a tank. And you're seeing it played out, and you're also seeing the Russian administration using it to say what they're doing and why they're doing it. And it's very much like Arab spring. KURTZ: Do more journalists need to go into this war zone so we have a better picture of what's going on? MILBANK: Sure, because that's providing you raw material, but you don't know necessarily what it says, what's real and what's not, and yes, you need to get the people in there. I'm not saying I'm raising my hand, but this is the tough job people need to do. KURTZ: That war correspondents need to do, indeed. All right, Dana Milbank, Amy Holmes, thanks very much for joining us. Up next on MediaBuzz, Piers Morgan is losing his show on CNN. Is his gun control crusade to blame? And later, Alec Baldwin lashing out at his old network, MSNBC. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KURTZ: Piers Morgan was always an odd fit at CNN, a British tabloid journalist who joined a mainstream network, a celebrity interviewer who became a gun control crusader, sometimes treating his guests as morons. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PIERS MORGAN, CNN: You are talking -- LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: At the point of the crime and not wait for -- (CROSSTALK) PRATT: I honestly don't understand why you would rather have people be victims of a crime than be able to defend themselves. It's incomprehensible. MORGAN: You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you? (END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: And this week Piers's show got the ax. Joining us now from New York, Marisa Guthrie, who covers television for the Hollywood Reporter, and Joe Concha, a columnist for Mediaite. So Marisa, let's try not to have an unbelievably stupid conversation. Piers Morgan telling The New York Times that a big part of the reason his show was canceled by CNN was because of his crusade on the issue of gun control. Is that true? MARISA GUTHRIE, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: No, I don't think his problems started when he started banging on, as he would say, about gun control. I think the problem with Piers is the show was all about him and not about his guests. When you host a daily show, you're automatically ubiquitous, so you have to sort of make that subtle distinction where the show is actually about what the guest is saying. And it was all about Piers, it was about his enthusiasm, his opinions, his British accent, and I think ultimately viewers just didn't cop to that. KURTZ: Almost the opposite of Larry King, whom he replaced. Joe Concha, certainly it didn't help that this was a British guy lecturing Americans about their laws. JOE CONCHA, MEIDAITE: Absolutely. We had a British guy, as you said, pontificating about American culture, politics and particularly gun control. And by his own admission in his exit interview, so to speak, he said you know what? I probably alienated many potential viewers, but I think the bottom line was Jeff Zucker looked at his lineup 2014, he said he was making major changes, and like a baseball manager said, my clean-up hitter is batting under .200 and he's striking out a lot. So numbers and logic, Howie, led to this decision that it was time to let Piers go. He was getting beaten by a 3 or 4 to 1 margin by this network and Rachel Maddow, as well. So not a very difficult decision for Jeff Zucker to make here. KURTZ: Let's not lose sight of the undisputed fact that the ratings were not doing well and were sinking. But Marisa, coming back to the question of personality, when you're on the air in prime-time every night, your personality is why people tune in or click away. And his on-air persona, not exactly warm and cuddly. GUTHRIE: No. And I think that he was thinking that, you know, everybody on CNN has become more opinionated. I think that that is something that Jeff is promoting. But I think that with Piers -- KURTZ: Jeff Zucker. GUTHRIE: Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN now. But with Piers, it was just too much. I do think the CNN audience is different than the Fox News audience and is different than the MSNBC audience. I think a lot of people who watch CNN, they tend to be more on the liberal side. They probably agreed with Piers Morgan's stance on gun control, but they didn't like how he was stating his message. KURTZ: Stick with that point for a minute, and I'll get Joe to jump in. Do you think it was a good or a questionable thing for CNN's brand if, as you say, other CNN hosts and anchors are becoming more opinionated and maybe leaning a little more left, is that your suggestion? GUTHRIE: I think Piers is a little more left than right. I think certainly the gun control issue, that is an issue that is supported by Democrats and not necessarily by Republicans. So I think that by, you know, taking that stance, he wasn't necessarily -- the stance wasn't necessarily alienating the viewers. It's how he was going about it, calling people stupid and really banging on about it. I do think he did some good stuff with gun control. I think the town hall he did was really interesting. But I think that ultimately, the show was too much about him. Larry King was like a piece of furniture. But Piers made the show about him. And I think that when you do that, people really have to like you or they're going to really dislike you. KURTZ: I've heard kinder descriptions of Larry. He was a good interviewer. GUTHRIE: He was a good interviewer. That's the point. KURTZ: I know. What about this notion, I mean, certainly, Don Lemon of CNN we've talked about on this program, increasingly giving voice to what seemed to be liberal opinions. The whole idea of CNN becoming more opinionated. CONCHA: Sure, and in general, Howie, cable news is becoming more opinionated. Pew did a study last year, MSNBC is 85 percent opinion. CNN was on the low end of that survey, 45 percent, but they seemed to be going more in that direction, because more people are getting their news from their phone, they know what happened, what they want is perspective. I think Jeff Zucker sees that and is encouraging guys like Don Lemon and other commentators on there to not only give the news, but also give perspective on what's going on. KURTZ: Just briefly, Joe, what was the show? Because Piers Morgan started out as a celebrity interviewer, then the show became more newsy to fit in with breaking news, but it never seemed to quite have an identity, did it? CONCHA: No. And that's a big key, Howie. You have to have a specific brand as to what your show is. Larry King had that. And ironically, TV Newser did a poll, who would you like to see replace Piers Morgan? 86 percent of respondents said bring Larry King back. So will that happen? Absolutely not, but boy, that was an astounding number. KURTZ: I think Larry is available. He's 81 and still going at it. GUTHRIE: He said he'll go back. KURTZ: He would. I'll cover that story. Let me get a break. Next, the strange debut of MSNBC's young celebrity host, Ronan Farrow. And then later, the music site Pandora says it knows whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. Really? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWSBREAK) KURTZ: Ronan Farrow is young, smart and possibly Frank Sinatra's son and not Woody Allen's son, according to his mother, Mia. This week, he debuted on MSNBC. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RONAN FARROW, HOST, MSNBC: Welcome to "Ronan Farrow Daily." I'm Ronan Farrrow, I'll be here daily. I'm also new to this. What's going on here? Which camera do I look at? Who knows. But we'll figure it out together. (END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: He'll be here daily. Marisa Guthrie, what did you make of his debut? GUTHRIE: Wow, he was nervous. And he seems even younger on TV than in person. I think his lack of TV experience was very apparent, and I think that he would have been served better to have a little more time to get used to the cameras, get used to the teleprompter, get used to just the environment of television. And I think it will -- he'll settle down -- I do think he settled down a little bit by Friday. KURTZ: But he's 25 and has blue eyes. What more could you want? GUTHRIE: Exactly. KURTZ: And by the way, Joe, even though he had no previous journalistic experience, after three days on the air, he won a coveted Cronkite award. What took them so long? CONCHA: It must be the Nobel people that are giving out that award. Unbelievable. I feel sorry for Ronan Farrow. And this is why I say this. So much hype coming into this debut. New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, but most of all from MSNBC president, Phil Griffin, who said I met this kid for 20 minutes and I knew he had it and he should have his own show. Personally, and in the ratings, by the way, in terms of how he performed, he had the lowest rated show on all of MSNBC day or night on Monday, and those ratings dropped throughout the week. If I'm running MSNBC, Howie, what I would have done was put him on a show like "The Cycle," which is like "The Five" on Fox, was modeled after that, an opinion show, not as much heavy lifting, four co-hosts, and give him his training wheels until you give him his own show, which is a very difficult thing to do, for one hour, when he's not even done any broadcasting, local, community access or especially national. KURTZ: It's tough to be thrown into that chair. Finally, MSNBC of course let Alec Baldwin go a while back. He has got a cover story in New York magazine. Let me hold it up, in which he really goes after the network, he says Phil Griffin, the president, doesn't care about content. He used a more pungent phrase I can't repeat on the air. He went after Rachel Maddow, saying she's a phony off camera. And what do you make of this rant? GUTHRIE: It's quintessential Alec Baldwin. When interviewed him last year, he insisted that we conduct the interview walking around Times Square. There's a part of Alec Baldwin that likes the tussle, that likes the interaction. He just doesn't like it when it gets to a certain point. And I think he definitely has a hand in this paparazzi hounding that he's courted, because they know that they're going to get a reaction from him. So they're going to stick the camera in his face, and they're going to get that video, and it's going to be bought by TMZ. So I think he said these kinds of things before. When I did that interview with him, he said it was going to be his last interview. So I do not believe he's going to go sequester himself in L.A. behind the locked gates. KURTZ: We'll see if he actually leaves New York, drops out of public life or if this is just a phase. All right. Marisa Guthrie, Joe Concha, thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday. CONCHA: Thank you, Howie. KURTZ: And in our press picks, this is over the line. The New York Post has been waging what can only be called a vendetta against Kerry Kennedy over a charge of driving while impaired. She side swiped a tractor trailer and continued to drive, after mistakenly taking an Ambien, before losing consciousness. Now, other news outlets covered the trial as well. Hey, she's a Kennedy, I get it, but look at these headlines in the New York Post. Zombie Kennedy. I have that right here. Oh Brother, RFK Jr: World Suffers if My Sis is Convicted. Here is another one. Pity me, I'm an orphan. Yes, she was even attacked for testifying her father, Bobby Kennedy, was assassinated when she was 8. Post columnist Andrea Peyser has been merciless, saying she is nauseated by the glittering, pompous array of Kennedys at the trial and sneeringly calling Kerry Kennedy a slacker and a professional human rights activist, with delusions of grandeur. Look, Kerry Kennedy made a dumb mistake, but she was pretty quickly found not guilty on Friday, despite this tabloid trashing. Ahead on MediaBuzz, the challenge of covering Washington's gridlock and the Hill's reaction to the chaos in Ukraine. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KURTZ: The congressional reaction to Russian troops invading Ukraine, so far, at least, is not unlike how Washington copes with most problems, plenty of talk. Joining us now is Jackie Kucinich, a Washington Post reporter and an anchor for Post TV. So based on your experience, do you think that Hill reporters will run to Republicans, who will then trash the Obama administration? We already have John McCain and Lindsay Graham, who have been critics of the president on lots of foreign policy issues, being critical here. Lindsay Graham saying this morning we have a weak and indecisive president who is inviting aggression. Is that how it's going to break down? JACKIE KUCINICH, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think you do the usual stuff. Lindsay Graham can always be counted on for a quote against the president, usually. But you do, there are some flashes of bipartisanship when it does come to foreign policy, and this issue in particular. You had Adam Kinzinger. He is a House Republican from Illinois. He said that House Republicans are going to line up behind the president on this issue. And what he intends to do. So, again, foreign policy was one of these issues that there are the fault lines are a little bit more -- are a little bit different. KURTZ: There's a little bit more room for cooperation than there is, let's say, on health care. KUCINICH: Right. KURTZ: So on the domestic front, you had President Obama and John Boehner having an hour-long meeting. First time in more than a year that they have gotten together. There were some pictures of that that were released. In the end, got a big build up. Was this newsworthy? KUCINICH: It was newsworthy because you had the speaker of the House and the president who haven't had the greatest relationship meeting together, that is newsworthy. The things that they discussed are newsworthy. However, the bottom line, and looking at all the coverage, I think this was reflected, they didn't really discuss much substantively. And I think that was also a reflection. When you spoke to members of Congress, they knew this wasn't going to be the most substantive meeting. They weren't going to hash out all the crises that the Congress has had with the presidency in a half hour. So I think there was build up. But in reporting, about the actual meeting -- I found that pretty much kept to expectations. KURTZ: Despite lots of reporting in the press in previous months about how both sides would find common ground somehow on immigration reform, that is clearly going nowhere. Slate had a fascinating headline. Congress has entered a pathetic phase of inaction. Where does that leave reporters? Inaction is not that exciting. KUCINICH: Inaction isn't that exciting. But it does open up other pathways. I think when gridlock happens in Congress, there is an incentive to start covering some other things, to start looking at why there's gridlock and explaining why this has happened. For example, the midterm elections. That's why immigration isn't going to go through this year. A lot of lawmakers don't want their -- their leaders don't want their lawmakers voting on this. Being able to explain that. Being able to explain the relationships between lawmakers. Some of these leadership battles that are being set up. So I think that's how you cope with that and that's how you expand past, okay, immigration reform has failed. Well, why? KURTZ: Well, when the House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp introduces a sweeping tax reform bill that he's worked on for a year and his own speaker says, blah, blah, blah, clearly it is not going to come to the floor, is that worthy of coverage? It's an interesting intellectual debate, but again, Washington paralyzed? KUCINICH: Absolutely, the fact that Dave Camp introduced this, introduced this bill and -- KURTZ: What's the second day story? What's the third day story? KUCINICH: The second day story is tax reform is different than immigration. And we both know this. Immigration is something that conceptually that you're either for or against it. Tax reform, it's harder to discuss for five, six, seven days. In the more mainstream publications. And I think as far as what Dave Camp introduced, you're going to see pieces of it continuing to be discussed. KURTZ: Okay. KUCINICH: But, yes, it's not as exciting as immigration reform. In a lot of ways. KURTZ: Is it the role of reporters, not commentators, to assign blame? Who is more to blame, President Obama or the Republicans, for the fact that nothing is getting done and everybody knows that Washington has become a place of gridlock? KUCINICH: You're saying should reporters be assigning blame? But there's blame to go around. I think the voters are the ultimate arbitrators of that debate. KURTZ: Right. And it is our job to give them the information so they can make those judgments. KUCINICH: Absolutely. KURTZ: But I think the midterms are increasingly going to become the story. KUCINICH: Very true. KURTZ: Jackie Kucinich, thank you very much for stopping by this Sunday, good to see you. Coming up, whether you listen to hip hop or country music, Pandora thinks it has got you pegged politically. Doesn't that strike a sour note? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KURTZ: Time now for our digital download. If you listen to music on Pandora and you are a fan of this sort of thing -- say the Modern Jazz Quartet, then Pandora says you must be a Democrat. ASHBURN: But if country is more your thing -- (inaudible) by Toby Keith, the website is convinced you are a Republican, and this will show up in the ads you see. KURTZ: I got to tell you, this is just creepy. I go to listen to some music, I want a break from politics, don't want to be bombarded by a bunch of political ads based on what the webs site thinks my political views are. ASHBURN: You'll be bombarded by the ads anyway. KURTZ: There's no escape? ASHBURN: There's no escape. Actually, the information that advertisers have about us is really daunting. There's a lot of this happening, especially with Spotify and Pandora. They're all fighting for the same piece of the pie. Basically with Pandora, you tell what songs you like and then it picks a playlist for you. KURTZ: Right, you create a channel and it suggests other kinds of music. Like the artist that you like. And that's one of the things I like about it, but this business about OK, it tracks what zip codes you're in, and it makes a certain judgment about you then, and then it's like, well, you like the Modern Jazz Quartet or Herbie Hancock, you must be a Democrat? I don't think that's accurate. ASHBURN: They're matching election results with your musical preferences, right? So you would think, all right, Bruce Springsteen, who would you think would like Bruce Springsteen? KURTZ: I cheated and I looked -- (CROSSTALK) ASHBURN: The Wall Street Journal had a great piece on this and they had a quiz. You know it's both Democrats and Republicans. It does not always go. Jay-Z, I thought would be Democrats, but it's Democrats and Republicans, because Democrats and Republicans like hip-hop. KURTZ: I'm immune, because I'm a classic rocker, and classic rock apparently you can't classify, because apparently it appeals to people on various side of the spectrum. But look, I know Pandora, like other web sites, like Facebook, needs to generate revenue, and this is a way to generate revenue, but it feels really intrusive. ASHBURN: It does. As I was saying earlier, it's amazing what advertisers know about you. For example, they know who you vote, credit card -- there's a great piece on Fox Tech right now that talks about how you can get advertisers not to know so much about you if you go to, you can change your birthday on Facebook, you can do a whole bunch of other things. I'd like to know what you do @laurenashburn on Twitter. KURTZ: I'm still feeling like this strikes a sour note, as I said in the tease, but you're saying we've all surrendered. We want to get the ads that appeal to us, and then we don't delete the cookies, we give advertisers all this information. ASHBURN: And there are ways around it. As I said, this Fox Tech piece is great, there are ways around doing this. You can use temporary emails like Naildrop. But the problem with Pandora is there are so many ads now, and to have them tailored to what they think you are, you're right, it is creepy, it's intrusive, and I kind of think it's wrong. KURTZ: I think my way around it, I'm going to get out my record player, I am going to dust it off. ASHBURN: With your 78s? KURTZ: And I'm going to play albums. No, 33. Don't go too far. Still to come, an unusual legal settlement for bad reporting about Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the TV correspondent who was canned for being a bit too athletic. Buzzworthy is up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KURTZ: Here are a few of your top tweets. On CNN canceling Piers Morgan's show -- Heidi McClellan (ph) says, "he was too obnoxious, period. Antagonized both guests and viewers." Ben Ratner (ph), "because Jay Leno will do a better job at 9:00 p.m." We'll see on whether that alliance will come about. And on those new Clinton documents that shows Hillary's aversion to the national media back in the 1990s. Jacob Rios (ph), "the national media loves her and will do everything in its power to spin and protect her. She's in good hands." But S. Klukov (ph) says, "why should national media indulge in mindless discussion about a nonissue from 20 years ago?" ASHBURN: Do you think the liberal media, that she has them in her pocket? Is that what you think? KURTZ: Is that what I think? No, especially as we're getting into an actual campaign. Right now, she is getting a lot of good press, because she's not actually a candidate. ASHBURN: She's not running. KURTZ: Well, she's sort of kind of running. ASHBURN: Right. KURTZ: In our press picks, this media fail. After the sad death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the National Enquirer quoted a friend who discovered his body, David Bar Katz, as saying they had been lovers, and that he had seen the actor use heroin many times. Only problem is Katz has never spoken to the Enquirer, ever. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID BAR KATZ: I was stunned. I don't feel like I'm naive about that thing, but I always knew that they made stuff up, but I never knew they made up even having an interview with someone they never had, and then the degree of seeing how everyone picks it up. (END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: Katz sued, and the supermarket tabloid apologized, saying it was duped by someone claiming to be Katz. But here is the good news, as part of a settlement, Katz has formed a playwriting foundation that will give out a yearly $45,000 prize paid for the Enquirer. Finally the NBC affiliate in Providence fired reporter Julie Trimle (ph) after the sin of showing a little personality. That is what she did during a live report about the network show "America's Got Talent." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I go to thinking, I had a chance to meet a huge L.A. and New York City producer today, and I had absolutely no skills to show them. I don't think and I don't sing, but I do do gymnastics, so I thought to the producers, watching at home tonight, how about a news reporter that does the news while she's walking on her hands? Here in Providence, Julie Tremel, NBC 10 News. (END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: Seriously? Fired for being flashy? Julie Tremel says she's shocked and is fighting the dismissal. ASHBURN: She also had to do something, which I had to do in local news, which was I think there was a bear or something loose -- KURTZ: In the woods. ASHBURN: In the woods, right, and she had to show what you're supposed to do when a bear is coming to attack you. And she raised her hands. I didn't raise my hands, and I've actually had those situations. And don't you think, Howie, this is what makes television? You have meat and potatoes, you have some dessert, right? And what's wrong with this? KURTZ: Ever do a handstand? ASHBURN: Never did a handstand on air. Tell me what you think. KURTZ: I thought it was great. It added personality to it. It's what you want reporters to do. I cannot believe she lost her job. Somebody is going to give this woman a job. That's it for this edition of MediaBuzz. I'm Howard Kurtz. Go to our Facebook page. We talk to you a lot there. We answer your questions. Give us a like, check out our new homepage as well. MediaBuzz, excuse me, We'll back here next Sunday at 11 o'clock Eastern with the latest buzz. Content and Programming Copyright 2014 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2014 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 Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.