This is a rush transcript from "Mediabuzz," March 30, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the buzz meter this Sunday, Chris Christie is exonerated in the bridge scandal, at least according to a law firm hired by his office. And journalists, of course, are skeptical.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: Does it make you feel clueless? Does it make you feel like, what was wrong with me?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: Not clueless, but it certainly makes me feel taken advantage of.
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: So there's not going to be any e-mails, no phone records, no tape recordings that come out, that establish you knew about this?
CHRISTIE: No. Because I didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: But what if the findings are confirmed? Would the media be forced to rehabilitate the governor as a presidential candidate?
It seemed like the missing plane drama was finally over with the official exclusion that it was at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. But no, is this tarnishing the media's reputation or just giving TV pundits another reason to snipe at each other?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Earlier this week, CNN anchor Don Lemon brought up the theory that something, quote, supernatural could be at play.
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: The network is in dire ratings trouble. They get a pulse, okay? So the executive's order, you guys have got to do this wall to wall.
JON STEWART, HOST, DAILY SHOW: You better be careful, O'Reilly, or Fox's coverage of CNN's over-coverage will be covered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Plus, Laura Ingraham says people are getting tired of all those predictable left-right debates on television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Especially when someone comes on and recites the same points we've heard from the establishment in both parties that, frankly, have screwed over the American people time and again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: A conversation about cable news. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."
There is no question that the internal investigation commissioned by Chris Christie's office has its shortcomings, most notably, the inability to interview two top former aides, but the folks at MSNBC wasted little time in ridiculing the report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: We were told that these lawyers were hired in the public's interest, but judging by the massive report they put out today, it's pretty clear whose interest they're serving -- Christie's.
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: This report is most likely flawed. There are disturbing connections between Christie and the law firm he hired for the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Christie tried to claim vindication in interviews with Megyn Kelly and Diane Sawyer, but there was pushback.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAWYER: I want to get to what everybody is saying about this report. Words are used, whitewash, expensive scam, that the taxpayers of New Jersey just paid for your lawyers to find you blameless. As you know, the word bully, bullying comes up over and over again. Have you asked yourself, did I do anything to create the climate in which this happened?
CHRISTIE: Sure. Spent a lot of time the last 11 weeks thinking about what did I do, if anything, to contribute to this. And I don't believe that I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So how much credence should the media give this internal investigation? Joining us now, Lauren Ashburn, Fox contributor, who writes Fox News' "Top Twitter Talk" column. Jim Geraghty, contributing editor at "National Review," and Juan Williams, Fox News analyst and a columnist for The Hill. Interesting choice of Diane Sawyer. How did she do in that interview with Christie?
LAUREN ASHBURN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think she handled it well. She asked some tough questions, but she also got him to be very emotional. She's the new Barbara Walters. As Barbara is fading off the stage, making that decision on her own, she is becoming the person that you have to come and sit down on the couch with in order to rehab your image.
KURTZ: But Lauren, how did you feel when you were watching that?
ASHBURN: I felt wonderful. And, you know, it was very difficult for me over those 11 weeks.
KURTZ: And I couldn't sleep and I couldn't eat.
ASHBURN: My son was talking to me about whether or not I did it.
KURTZ: Now, Jim Geraghty, obviously, this report has limitations and at times it reads like a defense brief. But with MSNBC attacking it again and again and again, it almost seems like MSNBC is taking the role of the prosecution.
JIM GERAGHTY, NATIONAL REVIEW: Very accurate. If this was a Democratic governor offering, well, here is what my guy said, I'm not responsible for this, I'd be screaming bloody murder. Democrats have every right to say, wait a minute, this is your own guy. Having said that, the guy who put this together, Randy Mastro--
KURTZ: You're saying Democrats have every right to say.
GERAGHTY: And public at large has reason to be skeptical.
KURTZ: Yes, the public at large.
GERAGHTY: Randy Mastro, the guy who put together this report, in addition to being deputy mayor of New York City, was an assistant U.S. attorney, is basically considered one of the top litigators in New York City. He just put his credibility on the line with this report, meaning if at some point there's some memo that comes up that says the big guy said he definitely --
KURTZ: Traffic problems in Ft. Lee.
GERAGHTY: Then his reputation is ruined. You have to figure, Mastro, if there is anything in there, the chances are we're not going to find much more than what was in this report.
KURTZ: We do know that Randy Mastro had access to all the internal emails, including some from Bridget Kelly, so is it fair, Juan, for some in the media to reflexively dismiss this as a whitewash?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think if you're in the news business, you're supposed to be skeptical. You're supposed to take on the powers that be. And the powers that be in this case were able to use taxpayer dollars in order to mount a defense for themselves. I think this is part of crisis management, and I think so far Chris Christie has done well with that. And by the way, Lauren, I love the part where he said his son said did you do anything, dad? It's very emotional, I think it works to some degree. Does it stop the investigations? Does it help Chris Christie's 2016 aspirations? No.
KURTZ: You know what's been getting a lot of attention is the part in the report -- I know you know this -- where Bridget Kelly, the woman at the center of this, the fired Christie aide, was described as briefly dating Bill Stepien, who was Christie's former campaign manager, right before the famous memo about time for some traffic problems in Ft. Lee. That drew a lot of criticism, including from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Why on earth would Bridget Kelly's personal love life and how her love life was going and whether or not Bill Stepian dumped her be relevant to that political question?
In real life, this is called slut shaming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHBURN: That's tough. I'm not often agreeing with Rachel Maddow, but she is right in this instance. Here is exactly what the report said. Events in her personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivation and her state of mind. Whether or not she has done something or not -- it's pretty clear that she has. Sigmund Freud has no business being in this report.
KURTZ: You're saying she's being described as an unbalanced, emotional --
ASHBURN: Of course. It's gratuitous. They're talking about her relationship, not about whether or not she can handle how she does her job. You know, I've had this. A lot of people go to attack your personal lives and tell lies.
KURTZ: Kelly, through her lawyer, said that the references to her were venomous, gratuitous and sexist, but of course, we haven't heard her full account. Let me play a sound bite for you, Jim Geraghty, because Governor Christie, as most people know, held another news conference. He took a lot of questions. This one did not last two hours, like the first one, this one was over an hour, and he wasn't shy about fencing the reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I don't know whether you can't take notes or you're not listening, but for you to characterize my last answer as I didn't want to ask her because I didn't want to know is so awful that it's beneath the job you hold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: It's called beat the press.
GERAGHTY: I want to take a moment to take in all of that contrition, all that -- boy, it hit him hard. The thing coming out of this report, it's not that exculpatory for Christie. Let's assume it's all completely, 100 percent accurate, literally true. His excuse is, look, I had no idea what was going on with the horrible people that I hired and put into position where they could abuse innocent people. I had no idea what was going on. Trust me, America. And that's not a fantastic rollout if he wants to run for president.
KURTZ: But this is classic Christie, he's again beating up reporters, even accusing reporters of putting their questions through their retrospectoscope, whatever that is.
GERAGHTY: That's actually covered under ObamaCare. (inaudible), the painful process and --
KURTZ: Now, if the other investigations -- and there are unanswered questions here, let me just divert for a second to say there was, in this report, the one many people are dismissing as a whitewash, the notation that David Wildstein, a central figure in this, recalls telling Christie at the time about the bridge lane closures on the George Washington bridge. Christie doesn't remember that. But if the other investigations, federal, state legislature don't really pin anything on Governor Christie, then are the media, who have been kind of tearing him down, because let's face it, the reason this is a natural story, they think he's a 2016 presidential candidate, will the media be forced to say he's done, he's on the comeback trail, that sort of thing?
WILLIAMS: I think we love comeback stories, so you can imagine, if there's going to be a comeback story. But the quality of that comeback story will have to be measured, because just as Jim said, he appointed these people. He can't totally say, oh, I had nothing to do with it. It's his administration. And then, of course, you go on to the idea that he -- I think you picked up on this, Howie, in a piece I read on FoxNews.com, in which you said, he belittled this scam, he said there was nothing to it, why are you people so concerned about this scandal?
KURTZ: I moved the traffic cones.
WILLIAMS: That's ridiculous. At that point, you start to think how do I feel about it? Because in America, presidential contests now often are a matter of character. So there's a lot of judgments being made about Chris Christie's character, for better or worse.
KURTZ: Right, difference here between legal culpability and the court of public opinion and media opinion, I should say. Let me move on because I thought on Monday, when the Malaysian prime minister came out and said it is our official conclusion that unfortunately flight 370 is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, that the story was going to start to fade from television coverage. Boy, was I wrong. Still lots of airtime devoted to theories and speculation. Let's take a brief look at some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it a pilot plot? A hijacking? A terrifying mechanical malfunction or something else?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like we're back at square one. Until you actually show me that plane, I'm not certain that I believe them.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Back to the deeply troubling notion that only a member of the flight crew could have made the Boeing 777 do what it apparently did.
MATTHEWS: But how? In a mighty explosion? Did a nanosecond of horror convert a routine flight into a seven-hour zombie flight down the South Indian Ocean? Or did someone, the pilot, the first officer, a visitor to the cockpit pull the plug?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: (inaudible) was even leading the Today Show on Friday, and of course lots and lots of hours on CNN. What's your take?
ASHBURN: The Associated Press came out with a report that said that CNN even tried to rent a 777 so that they could actually have that cockpit. Instead, they had to go to Canada to get it. And they are using that, they're still using.
KURTZ: The flight simulator.
ASHBURN: The flight simulator, so you can see what's happening in the cockpit. They're still using it. Martin Savidge is there. I think he lives there.
KURTZ: And no one else can use that flight simulator, because CNN has got it booked.
ASHBURN: They blocked it, they booked it.
KURTZ: Right. But is this too much?
ASHBURN: It's too much, of course it's too much. I was talking to my dad, who is in for the weekend, and he said wake me up when you really have some news, because it's just been too much. You know that they're not going to have anything, so you're tuning out. It's actually counterproductive.
KURTZ: We should just bring your parents on the set. You --
ASHBURN: I love them. That's why. And they're Fox viewers.
KURTZ: But now all this chatter about the pilot and what was he doing, was it nefarious? It could be. We don't know. But I'm wondering if you agree that the continuing speculation now what, after three weeks is a little bit on the reckless side.
GERAGHTY: It's undoubtedly one of the great mysteries of our time. It's worth noting is almost in media flies on planes regularly, right? So everybody gets--
KURTZ: Lots of Americans fly on planes.
GERAGHTY: One of the things is you're like, we know -- going from one major city to another, not over Antarctica or something like that, there's lots of reason for it to happen. Unfortunately, there's no speculation, and that's how you get Headline News booking a psychic on air and asking them questions and hoping can you divine the path of all that stuff?
KURTZ: On one hand you're saying, look, it's a fascinating story. We still don't know what happened. But on the other hand, are you saying, give me your assessment. This has been a cable news story. Word has now moved to inside pages on newspapers, new debris sighted, but how many times that happens, it's a huge breaking news banner.
GERAGHTY: Until, you know, there's actual news, we only need the once a day checking in. The problem is you can't run the headline. Nothing new today. Turn to page a2.
WILLIAMS: Let me just say, I know Howie and I both grew up in a news room, where if you didn't have a story, don't come over here. What are you talking to me about? When you have something, come and bring the story, tell me where you got it, how you got it, and let's do it.
KURTZ: No, no, when you didn't have a story, you would write the secondary story, which would be questions remain unanswered. But then by the third or fourth day, you had to have something.
WILLIAMS: You better have a story. And this story has dragged on. So in terms of journalistic credentials and our reputation with the audience, I have got to think that this is damaging, because it just seems like we're in the entertainment business. It's a great mystery, as Jim said. OK. Everybody likes it and you can follow the thread day-to-day, but there so no increase in information in the news cycle.
KURTZ: You know it is said, and while this was going on, we had the terrible mudslide in Washington state, now 18 Americans dead, and there were 90 missing, now about 30 unaccounted for. And in the opening days, that completely -- but I shouldn't say completely -- it got largely obliterated by the plane coverage. Now the plane coverage has ratcheted down a little bit, we get more coverage on that. But why not more on that? Because there's no mystery about what happened here?
WILLIAMS: Let me interrupt and say, what about Putin? What about Crimea? That's been a secondary story on cable to this story. And one other thing, I would say, though, I saw a Pew poll this week indicating most viewers think the coverage has been about right.
KURTZ: About a half said it was about right, I think maybe a third said it was being overcovered.
WILLIAMS: But can you imagine?
KURTZ: My problem is not with the volume of coverage, it is with filling the hours with speculation and theories, and maybe the plane is still in Pakistan.
WILLIAMS: Cable is a hungry beast, Howie. We need some every minute.
KURTZ: You know when this story will go off cable? When the ratings go down. Stick around. Remember to send me a tweet this hour about our program. It's @howardkurtz. We'll read some of your messages towards the end of the program.
When we come back, the White House says 6 million people have signed up for ObamaCare. Does that warrant a media celebration?
And later, a conversation with Laura Ingraham.
KURTZ: Tomorrow was the deadline to sign up for ObamaCare. Now it's been extended, I guess if you bring a note from your parents or something you can get more time. Jim Geraghty, 6 million signups. The White House is touting this, for ObamaCare. The original target was 7 million. Have much of the media kind of embraced this as an unqualified success?
GERAGHTY: I think largely. In some corners, people actually cover this who are on this beat are saying actually, there's a couple questions. They're counting bought, meaning you put it into your shopping cart, so to speak. You talk to the insurers and they'll say anywhere from 15 percent to a much higher percent, they buy it and then they forget to pay for it. In most stores, that doesn't actually count as buying. You have to exchange money for this sort of thing. What really gulls me is the administration insists that there is no way of figuring out whether these are people that didn't have insurance before and are now buying it and are joining the ranks of the insured, or if they had insurance, had it canceled under if you like your plan, you can keep your plan legislation, and then are buying replacement insurance.
KURTZ: You don't think that has gotten enough emphasis in the news coverage.
GERAGHTY: Oh, heck, no. That was kind of the whole point of it, I thought, is to get the uninsured to the insured.
KURTZ: I would partially disagree, in the sense that I think some of the newspaper coverage has been very diligent in mentioning these factors, such as we don't know how these people are going to pay for it. But CBS, ABC, nightly newscasts, give it like a paragraph. NBC Nightly News didn't mention it at all. I'm wondering what your take is, because this is one of those things where the number sounds good, but then the spinners come in.
WILLIAMS: I don't even think it's the numbers. You know, from a totally apolitical point of view, we don't know, right? I mean, the administration says they lack the data. You say why don't they? Well, the insurance companies have the data, we'll see. We'll see how it plays out. But I think that the narrative has been driven by conservative critics, especially after the flawed rollout of the website. And as a result --
KURTZ: Which was highly flawed.
WILLIAMS: Yes, I said it, the flawed rollout of the website. So it's been a constant criticism of ObamaCare, rather than what the Democrats have failed to deliver for themselves, celebration of a landmark political achievement that expands the social safety net in this country.
KURTZ: Especially on Fox?
WILLIAMS: Especially on Fox. I think day in and day out, the criticism is unyielding.
KURTZ: Brief response from the conservative critic?
GERAGHTY: You know why people my think they might be lying about it? Because in the past they've lied about it. They lied about if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. They lied about if you like your doctor, you keep it. So when they say hey, great news, 6 million people have showed up, I think a little skepticism is warranted.
KURTZ: OK. Now, before the networks, all cable networks all broke away to cover Chris Christie and the press conference, they were devoting some hours in the Vatican to President Obama meeting with Pope Francis. What's your take on how that coverage went, at least as long as it lasted before Christie came along?
ASHBURN: I think it was all a feel-good, the pope is meeting with Obama, even though the pope's numbers, popularity numbers are almost double what Obama's are. But they papered over the true controversy, which was the Supreme Court is hearing a case of religious freedom, where the Obama administration wants the Hobby Lobby and Canistoga (ph) Wood to be able to carry contraceptions that is against their personal beliefs. And here we have the optics of President Obama and the pope --
KURTZ: Well, first of all, though, haven't many presidents appeared in meetings and photo ops with popular popes in order to try to have some of that popularity--
ASHBURN: All popes back to -- I'm not sure who.
ASHBURN: Not the 1300s, but about the last six presidents have met with the pope. But not at a time like this when -- sorry, Howie. If you want to, go.
KURTZ: No, you go.
ASHBURN: When the religious freedom was -- this is one of the most landmark cases that will ever happen.
KURTZ: And the pope and the president have very different stances on it.
ASHBURN: Sure. And I think that was seen in the spin, in the readout after this. You have the Vatican saying, well, we discussed one thing. Then you have the administration saying, well, we actually discussed another.
KURTZ: All right. Jim Geraghty, Juan Williams, thank you very much for stopping by this Sunday. After the break, there is a new front on the missing Malaysian plane. (inaudible) sniping at each other over their coverage. Is that getting too snarky?
KURTZ: First came the frenetic coverage of flight 370, then criticism over the reckless speculation, then the pushback against the criticism, and inevitably, Jon Stewart getting his turn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: Our job is not to fill the air by telling bedtime stories.
MADDOW: We will not turn the lack of news on this very sad story into something that sounds like news when it isn't.
STEWART: Maybe they should have cc'ed that to everyone in the building.
SCHULTZ: The plane was clearly manipulated, whether it be by the pilots or someone else who may have comandeered the cockpit. A 5,000-foot runway could have been built, along this search path. It could have even landed at a remote stretch or in a desert somewhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now from New York is Joe Concha, a columnist for Mediaite. And, Joe, you said that on this plane story, the cable news pundits are engaging in cannibalism. Explain.
JOE CONCHA, MEDIAITE: You have hosts attacking competing hosts, Howie, and even producers jumping into the fray. It's mass hysteria meeting mass media. In the old days, Howie, old days being like three years ago, if anchor x wanted to attack anchor y, you would have to go thorough a process. You'd have to sit in the conference room and go through a pitch meeting and have an executive producer approve that segment. Tedious, arduous process. Now, instant gratification is in play. I don't know if you've heard this, Howie, but there may be one or two thousand insecure egomaniacs that may be on air these days, present company not included, of course.
KURTZ: Let me -- let's get specific. MSNBC's Chuck Todd tweets that CNN is overusing the breaking news banner and what happens?
CONCHA: Well, the problem was at the exact moment that he did that, MSNBC had a breaking news banner on the missing plane coverage. And even the next day, during Todd's show, breaking news banner about basically theory and speculation, about no news whatsoever. There needs to be some responsibility here, Howie. And I think the problem is that the personal tweets of an anchor or a host may not reflect that of the news organization they represent. I think what you'll see going forward are cable news executives tightening the leash, even putting in the contracts that you have to use Twitter responsibly, because you're not just representing yourself, you're representing our organization, as well.
KURTZ: In fairness, the anchor doesn't always know what banners or breaking news alerts are being put up under his or her face. But so what does it do to cable news's reputation generally on a story that has gotten so much attention and so much air time? If it's CNN, which has covered it by far the most, as a conscious decision, and the ratings are up like 84 percent according to the latest thing I've seen. If it's CNN versus the other networks, then it turns into a bit of a food fight.
CONCHA: It does, yes. You mentioned it. There's two trades of thought here. I think from a business perspective, you brought up the numbers before. Going all in is nothing new for CNN. They did it with the Boston bombings, the Zimmerman trial last year. You can't argue with the business decision there. In terms of actual responsible journalism, I think if it were 20 years ago, you wouldn't have this ability, CNN, there was no Fox and there was no MSNBC, and the Internet was in its infancy. So there were no options. Now that there are options, CNN can go all in on this story. They're getting criticism for it, but they don't have to be as responsible, because there are so many other options out there.
KURTZ: Here is where I think you are wrong on the overall point. I think it's healthy for cable news, commentators, pundits, even anchors to call out people on other networks, not just because of normal competitive urges, but because a lot of this stuff is garbage about black holes and psychics. And people who are on cable news, they tend to pop off on everything. Why should what other news organizations, even competing news organizations, are doing, why should that somehow be sacrosanct?
CONCHA: I think what you're seeing -- and we saw this with Keith Olbermann from way back when. He used to go after Bill O'Reilly on a nightly business, O'Reilly would never return the favor of even saying his name on the air.
KURTZ: It's a strategy, to get attention, sure.
CONCHA: Right, exactly, and I think it backfires. All you're doing is giving attention to another network, and people may say, that's interesting, maybe I should tune in for that. You have these egomaniacs that need constant approval that need to become news directors to say how other networks should do their coverage. I think in the end, it could backfire on them. It just shows how insecure these people are where they can't keep their opinion to themselves even for 5 minutes when they're at home on Twitter.
KURTZ: Well, maybe. But where hypocrisy comes in, in my view, is when you point fingers and you don't look at your own organization's excesses. Here, for example, I have said repeatedly and Bill O'Reilly has been on this too, that there's also been too much speculation on the missing plane story on Fox News, and I played sound from Fox News pundits, as well as those from the other networks, three weeks in a row now. So I think if you're going to get into that argument, you've got to recognize that we live in glass houses.
CONCHA: You're right, that's true. And it's funny, I mentioned Twitter before as being one angle for anchors to get their opinions out. We also see it with their own blogs as well, and Greta Van Susteren said everybody should get over it -- she could have been directing that at O'Reilly as well. Everybody get over all the coverage that I'm doing on my show, I'm going wall to wall, so there's blogs and there is Twitter, and everybody is going to have an opinion, and there's going to be snarkiness as you mentioned before, and it's not going to stop. It's only going to increase until executives actually say, guys, you have to cool it down.
KURTZ: Since we're not going wall to wall, I have to end this. Joe Concha, thanks very much.
CONCHA: Good to see you, Howie. Thank you.
KURTZ: And in our press picks, this stunning example of click bait. This Washington Post headline says, Montgomery County carjacking linked to a plane disappearance in Asia. What was that link? The carjacking took place while the Maryland woman was in her car listening to news of the Malaysian plane on the radio. Talk about a cheap way of generating traffic.
Ahead on MEDIA BUZZ, what do people hate most about cable news? Laura Ingraham has some thoughts. And later, Joe and Mika really go at it on MSNBC over the plane coverage.
KURTZ: Cable news stands accused of a variety of sins, sensationalism, superficiality and speculation. Not to mention mindless partisanship. How deep are these flaws? Is it getting worse? I sat down with Laura Ingraham, the syndicated radio host and Fox News contributor, here in Studio One.
KURTZ: Laura Ingraham, welcome.
INGRAHAM: Good to be here. This is very fancy. Sundays with Howie. Can't we rename it and just call it Sundays with Howie?
INGRAHAM: I've known you for so long, Howie, it's like home being here. How are you?
KURTZ: Good. So cable news, which we both spend a lot of time on, seems to chase the obsession du jour. The Zimmerman trial, Jodi Arias, Justin Bieber gets arrested, and of course the missing plane. Do you think that turns a lot of people off?
INGRAHAM: I think it does over time. I mean, I've been talking about what I call tragedy TV since 1996. It's been a long journey from JonBenet Ramsey, O.J., and the list goes on and on and on. Whether it's a local criminal story that has kind of some fascinating sexy elements, maybe a celebrity involved, maybe an attractive couple, coed is lost in the Caribbean, I think they hold some interest for a time and especially --
KURTZ: Then we beat it to death, over and over.
INGRAHAM: Even when there are no new news developments, that happens a lot.
KURTZ: Flight 370, so many days in that tragedy when we didn't have much, there was speculation. The rap on Fox and MSNBC, beyond what you call tragedy TV on those two networks, is that they're too partisan, they play to their bases. One mostly criticizes President Obama, one mostly defends Obama. Fair or unfair?
INGRAHAM: Well, look, I think Fox tends to be more fair than the other networks. I know O'Reilly, since I know that show the best, he tries to get as many liberals on as possible. A lot of people might not want to go on and tangle with O'Reilly because asks tough questions. I think we see with MSNBC's ratings, they staked it all on criticizing George W. Bush, and they had a good run for a while on that.
KURTZ: And then Obama was the new phenomenon.
INGRAHAM: Obama was the new phenomenon, and there were lots of glowing predictions made about what the world was going to look like. It was historic, of course, but then all sorts of amazing things were going to happen to the United States. And there have been a lot of amazing things, and a lot of the things that have happened haven't been so good.
KURTZ: The segments, we've all seen too many of them, you bring on somebody from the left, somebody on the right, they spew talking points at each other. Do you think that it is getting kind of tired?
INGRAHAM: I do to a certain extent. I mean, look, especially when someone comes on and recites the same points that we've heard from the establishment in both parties, that frankly have screwed over the American people time and time again on issue after issue.
KURTZ: I like when guests surprise me.
INGRAHAM: I do, too. So I think this has happened with me on a number of occasions on Fox News, where I'll be on a panel with a number of conservatives, whether it was George Will or Paul Wolfowitz, and we have real disagreements. And I think that's good, right? Because there are real disagreements in the conservative movement on immigration, on foreign policy, on how we should cut or not cut the military or foreign aid. These are important issues, and it's vibrant. I think it's much more exciting, and I can tell from Twitter hits, Youtube hits, web conversations, people appreciate that. They want to know that what is going on around the table isn't just scripted, it's everyone is going to -- well, the GOP has the answers, the Democrats have the answers. In fact, I think we can conclude that both parties haven't had the answers for the American people in a long time.
KURTZ: And not what you just said is the stupidest thing I ever heard because you represent the other party.
INGRAHAM: Right. Sure.
KURTZ: But also it seems to me that -- we're in Washington, we talk about politics all the time on this network, on other networks. Do you think average people, particularly when we're not in the middle of an election, just get a little tired of it?
INGRAHAM: It's a small part of most people's daily lives. But here is where I think someone like O'Reilly has gotten it. People want to believe and want to think there's someone out there really swinging for them, who really wants to help them. So O'Reilly, I'm looking out for you. And I think he really does have this overriding sense. It's not like I'm going to suck up to O'Reilly. He and I go at it a lot, too.
KURTZ: I've seen it.
INGRAHAM: But I think he has this innate sense of fairness. So people get mad at him when he did his Obama interview. Why didn't you do this or do that? He asks the questions he thinks he can get decent answers for, and that will educate the people, and that will hold people accountable. I think that's the secret to his success. We need more people on television who look like they're fighting for the average guy out there, versus for the GOP or for Democrats or for Hillary or for Jeb. I think people are tired of that.
KURTZ: It's no secret that CNN has struggled with the ratings. Got a bump during the plane coverage. Let's say you're running CNN instead of Jeff Zucker. How do you put on shows that people want?
INGRAHAM: I think you need some tentpole talents. You need some really big talents to, I think, rock prime time.
KURTZ: But not necessarily ideological?
INGRAHAM: I think you have to have a point of view and you have to -- I think it's, on the one hand, on the other hand, that gets old, too. Most people have an opinion. I don't think most people walk around saying, I don't really care about that issue. I think most people, when you press them, they think well, it's probably a good idea for us to stick up for the Ukraine if we can. I don't want to spend too much money there, but to pretend that your objective on cable news? I think that's kind of a lark. I think people like Anderson Cooper, who I think is a really good reporter, that's done a lot of great investigative stuff, the challenge is translating that to hosting. He's done some great stuff, but it's hard, because it's cable. People want to see to some extent an outsized personality but matched with real substance and not just a bunch of fluff. You have to know your stuff. If you're talking about Russia, you better know the czarist history of Russia. You better know what the Ukraine has been through. You better know what Babyi Yar is, you got to know something.
KURTZ: Big personality certainly helps if you have to carry the whole hour.
INGRAHAM: I think so.
KURTZ: Why have you stayed on the radio rather than going to TV full time?
INGRAHAM: Well, you know, I love radio. Larry King, he and I don't agree on a lot of political issues, but he once said to me, don't ever give up your radio show, because it is that intimate connection and that instant feedback that you get every day talking to people across the country.
KURTZ: The callers (inaudible).
INGRAHAM: It's weird. So when people come up to me -- and they do this to television personalities, too. They feel like they know me, and I would tell you, Howard, I've known you for so long, I feel like you're family, but the other day, I got on the air and I had a big ice back on my back because on my way out of my front door, I fell down the -- like four steps to the bottom of my living room.
KURTZ: I'm so sorry to hear this, but then you shared it with the audience?
INGRAHAM: No, my producers get on the air and they're like, what is wrong with you? And I said I can barely move my right -- but it's real. And I really wasn't at the top of my game but --
INGRAHAM: But it's real life, and it's kind of fun, and it's not like, coming up, we'll be back, next, reading the Teleprompter stuff. It's more me.
KURTZ: I got half a minute, you understand that on TV.
KURTZ: You're a single mother with three kids and two jobs.
KURTZ: Doesn't it take a ridiculous amount of juggling to do that?
INGRAHAM: Yes. Well, look, I have it pretty good compared to most people. My mother was a waitress. She didn't have the most easy life. We were very middle class, and she put me through college on her tips, and, you know, God bless her. She had a hard life. I have a very --
KURTZ: Compared to that --
INGRAHAM: Compared to that, I can't complain. It's great. I love being a mom. It is the most fun thing I've ever done. I know you love being a dad and all this is great. I love Fox, I love -- but being a mom is the most important thing in my life. I don't want to screw it up. I want to do it right.
KURTZ: You got your priorities straight. Laura Ingraham, thanks very much for joining us.
INGRAHAM: Thanks for having me.
KURTZ: Being a mom. Coming up, data guru Nate Silver, once a hero on the left, under fire for forecasting a Senate win for the Republicans. Why some pundits just don't like this guy.
KURTZ: There was a time back in 2012 when liberals loved Nate Silver, and many conservatives were disparaging him. These days he's getting heat from the left. Here is the back story. Silver is the data guru who was blogging for the New York Times when he predicted that Barack Obama had a 90 percent chaps of winning re-election and called every battleground state. This guy even predicted which turkeys would get a White House pardon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And once again, Nate Silver completely nailed it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: He relaunched his 538 blog at ESPN, where he also holds forth on sports and such vital issues as how many calories you burn during sex. Now he's forecasting the Republicans have a 60 percent chance of winning back the Senate this fall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON KARL: Republicans need six seats. What's the projection? How many are they going to pick up?
NATE SILVER, 538.COM: I'd say exactly six. But that's probably six plus or minus five. That means it could be --
KARL: They could pick up 11 seats?
SILVER: They could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The Dems have fallen out of love with their guy. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee put out a rebuttal mentioning that Silver's Senate forecast in the summer of 2012 was wrong. Also, issuing a fund-raising alert based on Silver's scary and shocking prediction about this year's term. Silver called that hypocritical. And it didn't take long for the party's argument to pop up on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: You may recall Silver inaccurately predicted the 2010 midterms and forecasted a 62 percent chance Republicans would claim the majority in August 2012.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Meanwhile, Silver had to apologize in the controversy surrounding a piece he ran on climate change. And Times columnist Paul Krugman is calling Silver's blog something between a disappointment and a disaster. Silver struck back with, well, data, detailing how Krugman's favorable take on the blog turned negative after Silver left the New York Times.
Just going out on the limb here, but this might just possibly be related, all this criticism, to Silver recently dismissing two-thirds of the major newspaper op-ed columnists for writing, in his word, crap.
After the break, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski really scolding each other over that missing plane story. And a female guest plays the gender card in a heated argument over ObamaCare with MSNBC's Chris Hayes. Our Video Verdict is next.
KURTZ: Time now for our video verdict. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski had a sharp disagreement over how much their MSNBC show should be covering the missing plane, the dispute that got rather personal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC: Can we go to news school for a second, please? That's last week's question. And the theories are for later in the show. And I'll tell you why--
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: -- you stop and relax. Just come on.
BRZEZINSKI: Stop for a second.
SCARBOROUGH: I'm going to ask you to just bring it down and relax a little bit. I think you're a little upset.
BRZEZINSKI: Here's what we have got at this point. It's 17 minutes past the hour, we shouldn't be talking about theories. If you want to go to a network that has theories about Pakistan just blared across for hours and hours and hours, you've got many choices out there.
SCARBOROUGH: I love Pakistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHBURN: Just bring it down a little? Relax? Come on. Joe Scarborough --
KURTZ: -- always take the woman's side.
ASHBURN: This is exactly what we have to put up with. And she was making a valid point.
KURTZ: She was. I like the point that Mika was making, about not going overboard on the plane coverage, but she was scolding Scarborough like a schoolboy. And he was acting like a schoolboy.
ASHBURN: No, she wasn't.
ASHBURN: I give this an 8, good for Mika, you go, girl. Get him.
KURTZ: They both didn't behave that well.
The fun of the show, though, is watching to see each week whether they're flirting or feuding, but who is uncomfortable? I'm giving it a 4.
All right, MSNBC's Chris Hayes was really going at it with Jennifer Stefano of Americans for Prosperity in a debate about ObamaCare. And then things really got heated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It's not like you're -- you care about people on Medicaid or that's the thing that got you into politics. I don't understand why not just be honest about it? Why this dishonesty?
JENNIFER STEFANO, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: Can I answer?
HAYES: Why not be honest about it?
STEFANO: You know nothing about me. You have no idea why--
HAYES: No, we talked before.
STEFANO: -- I wake up in the morning, and you have no -- excuse me, you have no -- why I wake up and fight for and believe in. You know nothing about me, you know nothing about my family.
HAYES: So you were (ph) working on Medicaid expansion?
STEFANO: You know don't know I was born and raised in a trailer park -- you don't know what I did, and how dare you, like Harry Reid, try to undercut the voice of a woman simply because she disagrees with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: I credit Chris Hayes for bringing on a conservative. And he did go too far and make it too personal, he said you don't care about the poor. But then--
ASHBURN: Too far? What do you mean too far?
ASHBURN: No, you can't.
KURTZ: Go ahead, jump in.
ASHBURN: Seriously, he went too far, he made it personal. He was being a bad host. He invited her on his show, and then what did he do? Insulted her.
KURTZ: They were both talking over each other and being obnoxious. I thought she went too far when she played the gender card and tried to make it like oh, you're doing this because I'm a woman.
ASHBURN: No, but she was trying to make a point and it was a point, and then he said, well, you don't really care about Medicaid. Would he have done this to a guy? I don't know.
KURTZ: I'm with you on that point. It was hard to watch, it was a train wreck, but I'm giving it a 5.
KURTZ: All right. Still to come, your top tweets, and Anthony Weiner lands a new gig with the media. Really.
KURTZ: Here are a few of your top tweets. Having to do with the plane story, Riley writes -- "In a media centric bubble pundits dissatisfied and annoyed that flight 370 isn't cooperating with their attention spans. Boo-hoo." On the Chris Christie story, Ernie Flores (ph), "I believe the report exonerates him from the scandal. Liberal media will not see it that way. MSNBC will be on this." S. Klukov (ph), "mindless acceptance by mainstream media and little if any coverage of the blatantly sexist undertones of the report." And from Facebook. Mike Nbama (ph), "Fox is trying to keep it in the middle of the road for the most part. MSNBC radicals are salivating as they grab their farm implements and prepare to storm the castle. CNN checking to see whether he was on the passenger list for the missing jet."
ASHBURN: Mike Nbama (ph) is a favorite of ours, he's always on Facebook and has great things to say. Thank you for the actual kudos that we kept it down the middle. And you know, CNN, he is right. If there's a plane story, they're on it. If there isn't, they don't know about it.
KURTZ: Finally, Business Insider has hired a new columnist. The web site says Anthony Weiner brings a combination of brashness and wonkiness, isn't afraid to throw elbows. At least that's the only body part that was mentioned.
ASHBURN: Hello. I can't believe we are giving this guy a column or someone is. I don't care what he has to say. He's a washed-up politician. He lost for mayor. He exposed himself on Twitter. Why do I want to read what he has to say?
KURTZ: He's a former congressman, he has a big mouth.
ASHBURN: So what? So do a lot of people. That doesn't mean you give them a column.
KURTZ: As long as the column is just about his opinions and there are no selfies.
ASHBURN: Are you defending this?
KURTZ: I'm just saying Business Insider apparently likes to have a variety of voices.
ASHBURN: OK, well, this one should be--
KURTZ: You won't be reading it.
KURTZ: That's it for this edition of "Media Buzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Let's continue the conversation on Twitter. Give our Facebook page a like. We post original video there and we engage with the commenters. Check out our home page as well. We are back here next Sunday morning at 11 and 5 Eastern with the latest buzz.
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