Sterling's gal pal rips media; press slow on Benghazi e-mails

Woman at the center of the Donald Sterling racism uproar steps into the media spotlight


This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," May 4, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the buzzmeter this Sunday, the woman at the center of the Donald Sterling racism uproar steps into the media spotlight. V. Stiviano telling Barbara Walters she's not his mistress and that the now-banned LA Clippers owner is devastated by the fallout from his comments about blacks.


BARBARA WALTERS, ABC: Do you think that Donald Sterling should apologize?

V. STIVIANO: Absolutely.

WALTERS: Did you discuss this with him?


WALTERS: Will he apologize?


KURTZ: But should the media investigate her role in recording those comments and bringing him down? Should a businessman be stripped of his franchise based on a private conversation leaked to TMZ? And we'll ask the ESPN writer who documented Sterling's racism eight years ago where have the media been until now?

New Benghazi e-mails, an explosive story for Fox News but ignored by much of the mainstream media.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: That's a scandal, a scandal. That is proof the American press is dishonest. Period. They're covering up a cover-up.


KURTZ: But is that true? And what of Jay Carney's efforts to dismiss the story as partisanship by Fox?

Plus, do female journalists need sex appeal to succeed in TV news?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, Fox News gets a bad wrap by others in the media who critique Fox News for maybe not having enough women on the set or they say it's all legs and lip gloss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do want to say there are a lot of legs and some lip gloss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we like that.


KURTZ: It was four against one, that would be me, at the newest Fox show, "Outnumbered." I'm Howard Kurtz and this is Media Buzz.

From the moment that TMZ posted that audiotape of Donald Sterling telling his gal pal not to be seen in public with blacks, the combination of a wealthy owner, a largely African-American sports league and the always combustible subject of race proved an explosive mixture.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Sterling going on a racist tirade.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling.


KURTZ: And the anchors and the pundits were quickly joined by some pretty famous faces from NBA history who rallied against the owner of the L.A. Clippers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was one thing to say something that's controversial but it's another thing to say something that's repugnant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot have an NBA owner discriminating against a league -- we're a black league.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shouldn't own a team anymore. He should stand up and say I don't want to own a team anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want Mr. Sterling's face to be the face of the NBA.


KURTZ: Sterling backed out of discussions to appear on ABC's 20/20 Friday night, leaving V. Stiviano to explain their relationship.


WALTERS: What's the biggest misconception about you?

STIVIANO: That I'm a mistress or a whore. Speculations of not real journalists doing their job, asking the wrong people information about me, that they don't know or have real facts.


KURTZ: And Sterling's sole comment to the website Du Jour? "I wish I had just paid her off."

Joining us now, Lauren Ashburn, Fox News contributor, who hosts "Social Buzz" on the Fox website. Amy Holmes, who anchors "The Hot List" at The Blaze, and Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, also a Fox News contributor.

So V. Stiviano got rid of that helmet and she goes on with Barbara Walters. She is trying to counter the image of herself as a golddigger, and she takes a shot at not real journalists.

LAUREN ASHBURN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: If we're not real journalists, maybe she's not a real assistant?

KURTZ: Are you suggesting that her duties, working for an 80-year-old guy, she is 31, didn't just involve keeping the books?

ASHBURN: I don't know. She does call herself later in the interview, a silly rabbit. That's what he calls her. Or that she would be.

KURTZ: Interesting, is that a job description?


ASHBURN: I think that's what's happening here is that she waited five days until coming out with her side of the story through her lawyer. And her lawyer says she didn't release the tape. Oh, and by the way, she's never been with a rich guy before.

Reporters are investigating who she is and come up with her Instagram account, where she says it's all coming out. Three weeks before this whole thing with the hash tag putting out publishing companies and media outlets.

KURTZ: (inaudible) featuring various scantily clad pictures of her, but we don't have the right to show it to you. Amy, I want to play one more soundbite from the interview for you, and this is again, V. Stiviano with Barbara Walters on ABC.


WALTERS: Are you in love with Donald Sterling?

STIVIANO: I love him.

WALTERS: I'm not sure that's what I asked.

Are you in love?

STIVIANO: No, I'm not in love.

WALTERS: You love him what, like a friend? (inaudible) romance--

STIVIANO: I love him like a father figure.


KURTZ: She never quite --

AMY HOLMES: Can I take a shower right now?

KURTZ: She never quite says I did not have sex with that man, Mr. Sterling. This whole thing is odious to you?

HOLMES: Oh, it's repellent actually from start to finish. By the way, Howie, there are still questions surrounding if she's actually 31. But of course reporters are going to try to get to the bottom of the credibility of, well, she doesn't say she's the accuser, but clearly her voice is also on the tape. I think she might be running into a legal buzzsaw about having recorded him without his knowledge.

KURTZ: Also, she's black and Mexican, and he's spewing this racist garbage. And now she chooses to go on TV defending him.


HOLMES: Of course. She agreed to the interview with Barbara Walters. She agreed to put herself in the public spotlight by participating in this tape in some manner, whether or not it was to release it or to record it. But again, all of these characters are just so sordid and gross.

KURTZ: Stiviano denies through her lawyer that she leaked the tape. But obviously, she had custody of it, and she gave it to somebody who gave it to somebody. The media don't seem to be buying her explanation, or do you have some sympathy for her, caught in this spotlight?

MARA LIASSON, NPR: I don't know if people are very sympathetic to her. I think once something like this gets out, it has kind of legs of its own and it takes on a life of its own. And it almost doesn't matter if it was taped with or without his knowledge. It fit into a context. You're not hearing anybody say this isn't the Donald Sterling I know. This is just completely surprising.

KURTZ: Nobody.

LIASSON: He would never say that kind of thing. You don't hear that.

KURTZ: Nor do you hear him apologizing.


ASHBURN: -- or the fact that he was illegally recorded.

LIASSON: What you do here are all these other things, well, I don't follow this closely. I didn't know all these things about Donald Sterling. Incident after incident after incident of racism and legal suits.


KURTZ: Beside if she was a real assistant -- how many assistants get a $1.8 million condo? What else?


ASHBURN: Not just one Bentley, two Bentleys, a Ferrari, a Range Rover, and then his wife sues her to get all of that money back. As Amy says, this is despicable. But you know, I think the reason that people are so happy about this or excited to cover this, is that there's a tape. There's a secret tape. There's possibility of sex. There's -- no one knows who leaked it or what happened. And unlike other cases in the past, I know you'll be talking to the person who wrote about this eight years ago, but unlike that, this has just that spark that gets journalists interested.

HOLMES: And high stakes, the loss of a basketball team.

KURTZ: Very high stakes involving a guy who is very rich and is part of the NBA. In a situation like this, the pundits pile on, and everybody, the bloggers pile on. But you showed that tape where you have got Kareem, and Shaq and Magic all coming out, do you think the sheer celebrity wattage of these NBA stars denouncing this owner, and how clearly the league has been tarnished, maybe ratcheted up the pressure on the NBA commissioner to ban him for life and try to get the other owner to force Sterling to sell the team?

HOLMES: I think it certainly did. Also, the Clippers themselves, if you remember, going out on to the court and turning their shirts inside out. How do they keep working for this man that has these odious views? But again, as Mark points out, apparently this was well established by Mr. Sterling of having these views, having been sued, under the Bush administration by the way, the Department of Justice. Where was the L.A. Times reporting all of this? I guess you could say, dude, that was eight years ago.

KURTZ: Some of it was reported but it certainly wasn't -- there was no concerted effort by the media to call this guy out, because it's kind of your point, the lawsuits are considered boring but suddenly we have a tape and a woman, we don't even know her first time. We find out it's Vanessa.


LIASSON: This had every ingredient to become a perfect media scandal. There also was something else. There's actually no controversy. There's incredible consensus. It seems like there's nobody on the other side. In other words, everybody said something has to be done. There was this huge push to figure out a way to make him give up the Clippers. I've never seen so much agreement around something like this.

ASHBURN: I think one of the reasons, Mara, for that is we have just come off of the Clive Bundy scandal, where he was, again, spewing racist comments. But there was no --

KURTZ: He's a guy no one had heard of.

ASHBURN: No one had heard of him, Howie. And he has no power. Here comes Sterling. All of a sudden he has all this power that can be taken away from him. And I think in part, the media latched on to that, as did Silver, the commissioner.

KURTZ: Let's look at the other side. I mean, he trusted this woman. These were private conversations that ended up being posted on TMZ. Is there any feeling that somebody shouldn't lose their business because of something they said in private, as opposed to discriminating in housing, for example?

ASHBURN: There is no privacy anymore. 90 percent of people own cell phones. They can be taping us surreptitiously right now. Hey, Joey, Jim, Rick.

HOLMES: It wouldn't be surreptitious, because we're on live television. But there was controversy over what should be the consequence for Donald Sterling's remarks to this woman. You're asking should he have trusted her? Did you watch the Barbara Walters interview?


ASHBURN: -- viral voyeurism right now, that's what's happening. Whether or not his rights were violated by the First Amendment, which just didn't happen, or by the Fourth Amendment, which we don't know happened, whether or not that was violated, because we don't know if he gave his consent.

KURTZ: Look, what he said was disgusting and despicable. Believe me, I'm not defending him. But there's some part of me that finds this creepy, because, you know, he thought he was speaking confidentially. And here's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writing on, Amy, the making and release of this tape is so sleazy, that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime.

HOLMES: Agreed. Can we all please take a shower after watching that Barbara Walters interview? Mark Cuban actually agrees with you, that this is a slippery slope.

KURTZ: Mark Cuban is another NBA owner.


HOLMES: Yes, to take away somebody's property, a billion dollar franchise, I read, because of private remarks. But let's also remember that Donald Sterling as it turned out did have a history of this type of behavior in his public dealings.

KURTZ: Oh, absolutely.

HOLMES: -- along with his dealings with the Clippers, he was accused of a plantation mentality.

LIASSON: They're not going to take away his property. They're going to buy it from him. He's going to make a lot of money. Legally--

KURTZ: That's the irony here.

LIASSON: -- they cannot confiscate his property. He owns it. Now, he signed a contract with the NBA, so he is subject to the rules. And if enough of them, whatever it is, three quarters of the owners, say you have to sell, they're going to sell, they're going to buy it from him, and it's market value. They're not going to take away his property.

KURTZ: The irony is his punishment will be --

LIASSON: To become richer.

KURTZ: Hundreds of millions of dollars. And amazingly, the Clippers won their playoff series last night in the seventh game. So I guess the players at least managed to stay focused. There were mistakes also on this story, NBC reporting that on the verge of the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver coming out, that there would be a $5 million fine, it turned out to be a $2.5 million fine. When there's a frenzy, I guess sometimes you miss the hoop when you shoot.

Let me get a break here, remember, send me a tweet about our show this hour, @howardkurtz. We'll read your best messages at the end of the program. When we come back, the Benghazi e-mails, why most of the media had to play catch-up with Fox.

And later, I'm outnumbered by the ladies of Fox's newest program.


KURTZ: It was major news on Fox News when new emails surfaced on Benghazi, showing that White House adviser Ben Rhodes helped Susan Rice prep for the Sunday talk shows by saying she should underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video and not a broader failure of policy, but for most of the mainstream media, not so much. That led to this denunciation by Bill O'Reilly when I was on "The Factor," and to some scoffing at MSNBC.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: And that failure by the national press to tell the American people the truth about Benghazi is for one reason and one reason only. To protect President Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That sarcasm and apparently a sense of reason or proportion, obviously these things seem to have been lost on conspiracy obsessed conservatives, who have turned this e-mail into the Watergate tapes.


KURTZ: Amy Holmes, I say the media are suffering from Benghazi allergy syndrome. They think the story is old, complicated and the country's moved on. O'Reilly says the media are protecting Barack Obama. Where do you come down?

HOLMES: I have to say on Mr. O'Reilly's side. I agree, I was disappointed in you drawing these conclusions. Look, the media had no problem following the Valerie Plame scandal, for example, every detail, every moment of that scandal, none was too small for them to gorge themselves on it. So to say this is too complicated, it's just been stretching out for two years.

KURTZ: I'm telling you how they think. But do you think the editors get together and have meetings and say you know what, this could really be damaging to the president, we need to play this down?

HOLMES: No. But I think there is an internal bias where they judge something not to be newsworthy, and so they don't put it on the air. Whereas in fact I think the Ben Rhodes e-mail, along with the State Department e-mail that Sharyl Attkisson had uncovered and put on her website indicate that the White House was involved as well as the State Department in trying to cover up the description of this event.

KURTZ: I think this is a really important story, but, Mara, most of the mainstream media were slow to see this particular e-mail as news.

LIASSON: They were slow but they did finally cover it. Maybe they followed Fox's lead. But in the end, they did cover it because it was new. I think the mainstream media thinks, you know what, this is a story we've heard about. The Ben Rhodes e-mail was a new development. They did cover it. I think it shows the White House was spinning, and I think the media, the nonFox media did finally come around and cover it.

KURTZ: Right. There were few exceptions. Walk us through what happened on Tuesday when the Judicial Watch obtained these documents.

ASHBURN: So Catherine Herridge on Fox News was covering it all day long. That night, the networks, no coverage, the cable nets, no coverage. By the next morning, Wednesday morning, nothing in the New York Times, the L.A. Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post had it on a-17. Then we started to see, "CBS This Morning" also was one of the first networks, they covered it on Wednesday morning with Bill Plante, who came out with a very balanced piece, saying this could be this or it could be that.

KURTZ: The New York Times then the next day --


KURTZ: Published a two-day-old story. I think it's a tacit admission that the initial judgment had been wrong.

Let me move you to the Bret Baier interview that's kind of gone viral. He's talking to Tommy Vietor, former NSA spokesman, about the editing of the talking points. And well, let's just take another look.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Did you also change attacks to demonstrations in the talking points?

TOMMY VIETOR: Maybe. I don't really remember.

BAIER: You don't remember?

VIETOR: Dude, this was like two years ago. We're still talking about the most mundane process.

BAIER: Dude, it is the thing that everybody is talking about.


ASHBURN: OK. Come on, Tommy. My 14-year-old son doesn't even say the word dude anymore. Second of all, props to Bret for coming right back at him and saying, dude, this is important. It spawned a hash tag on social media, #dude. And I think that really what this shows, he comes on Fox News and then says he doesn't know, and that it's a 2-year-old story when there's a brand new e-mail.

KURTZ: Let me also play something from the White House briefing room, because I think what really elevated this story was Jay Carney fencing with reporters for CBS and CNN and ABC, as well as Fox's Ed Henry. Here's a brief look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you need a copy of the CIA talking points? I can get ...

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You can read them out all you want. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing in that email that refers to Benghazi is a cut and paste from the talking points which much to your disappointment and your boss's disappointment turned out to be produced by the CIA.


KURTZ: Is that an effective tactic? Making this look like Fox partisanship?

HOLMES: Obviously not. Jonathan Karl of ABC went after Jay Carney for this absurd spin. Jake Tapper over at CNN said that it's insulting, it's insulting to the press and insulting to the public. But how we - I remember when the job of the White House press secretary was described when Mike McCurry had it under very difficult circumstances of Bill Clinton and impeachment was to serve both the public and the interest of truth as well as the White House. And if the press secretary had sort of two masters, well, in this case, it seems that Jay Carney doesn't understand the second element of his job, which is to serve the truth and the public.

KURTZ: Mara, there was also an email a couple of days after the Benghazi attacks, from Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee writing to the State Department spokesperson at the time, Victoria Nuland. And Fox News got mentioned, we put it up on the screen. "I know this is B.S., but this is killing you, guys. We've been watching Fox News tonight and the amount of mis and disinformation is frankly, shocking, even for an election year."

LIASSON: I think this is in a different category. This is not the White House bashing Fox. They have their own reasons and incentives to do that. This is a reporter who is a competitive guy, who's given the State Department spokesman all sorts of grief over the years. You can't say he's a softy.

KURTZ: Right.

LIASSON: And he's competing. He's doing source management. And source stroking. That's what I think it is.

KURTZ: That's what it is. Now, A.P. spokesman told me that Matthew Lee was not criticizing Fox, but was criticizing a British newspaper report which was cited on Fox.

LIASSON: Right. And when it was dropped, Fox also dropped that. When the independent took it down, yes.

KURTZ: Mara Liasson, Amy Holmes, thanks very much for Joining us this Sunday.

Up next, the ESPN writer who blew the whistle on Donald Sterling's racism eight years ago. And why the media looked the other way.

And later, a new documentary on Jayson Blair's fabrication with a cameo appearance by me.


KURTZ: Eight years ago, well before the secret recording that led the NBA to ban Donald Sterling for life, ESPN contributor Bomani Jones wrote about the owner of the L.A. Clippers. Sterling, he noted, had just been sued by the Justice Department for housing discrimination. Quote, "though Sterling has no problem paying black people millions of dollars to play basketball, the Feds alleged that he refused to rent apartments in Beverly Hills and Korea Town to black people and people with children.

Joining us now from Miami is Bomani Jones. Welcome.

BOMANI JONES, ESPN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. Nice to be here.

KURTZ: So, you write this piece in 2006. The headline is "Sterling's Racism Should Be News." And the reaction was?

JONES: Well, the reaction from my editors was immediately positive and most of the people who read it were pretty positive about I it. Now, I don't know how many people actually read it. That's where it gets to be tricky, but when it first went up, the people who saw it thought they made some pretty good points. And then, you know, like most things go on big websites and in the sports world, it just got ran its course, I suppose.

KURTZ: Right. It didn't become anything like what happened this past week. So, an NBA owner was sued twice by the Feds, he paid millions of dollars in fines and plaintiffs' fees. And I'd have to say the national media didn't much care. In fact as you point out, even the "L.A. Times" online section devoted to the Clippers ran a wire story. Were you frustrated at all at the lack of resonance that this had?

JONES: Well, I guess frustration may be the word. But I guess I was more concerned, that's what we are having with that story, but just generally speaking, how we have really bad ideas about what's important when it comes to race and things that have to be discussed. So, the idea that this cookie crazy tape could come out and all of a sudden, everybody goes and screams to the heavens about how terrible it is. But I can walk back so many societal problems starting the housing discrimination and that happened, and nobody seemed to have much of a worry to say about it.

KURTZ: Right. And why do you think that is? Is that the lawsuits, or a little complicated and not a sexy for the media, and here we have, you know, secret tape, gal pal, who says she's not the mistress, TMZ posting it. When arguably the housing discrimination, which actually affected people who were trying to rent apartments owned by Donald Sterling had more impact than what he said in private?

JONES: Well, I don't even think that's arguable. I think it is inarguable that the housing discrimination was a bigger deal. Indeed, in 2009 Sterling wound up paying an even bigger settlement on the basis of housing discrimination. And nobody seemed to care so much about that either. What I think happened this time, that TMZ tape, what, is a tape. That's something that people can see. That's something they can hear, that's something people can point to. And it's fairly concrete. It doesn't get into anything technical. It just screams out to loud, inappropriate racism which is probably the biggest sin that you could commit in this society when it comes to being racist, at least in terms of public perception. So, since we had that and it just screamed at people, I think that hit a lot more than something that was more technical and more economically minded. And this, I think, you said it - this was a lot sexier, this was a lot flashier. And if we're going to be honest, this is crazy. Like if you're looking for a story to really blow up, something that's kind of crazy will normally do it. And that tape was crazy.

KURTZ: Yeah, I mean when she says - when he says - excuse me, oh, you can sleep with black people, but don't post any pictures on your Instagram account. Yes, that was - that fits my clinical definition of crazy. But give me support of you- Do you think the national media, and in the NBA, other owners who certainly knew about some of this, and the L.A. chapter of the NAACP, which - to which Sterling gave a lot of money which was going to give him another lifetime achievement award, do you think they all enabled this guy, enabled Donald Sterling?

JONES: Well, I think everybody enabled Donald Sterling. It's not as though Donald Sterling had some Sterling record -- Sterling, there we go. It's not as though he had a spectacular record outside of this terrible thing. It's not like the Clippers were winning all these games and then there was this dark side. He was pretty much terrible in every single way. You could point to the NBA and the transaction of Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups. And say that that - willed up enabling campaign, but I think more important than talking about that specific to Sterling is just the larger issue and bigger discussion when it comes to the things that we talk about when matters of race come up. We get too caught up in things that allow you to try to point out whether or not one person is or is not a racist as opposed to looking at how these big things happen, how Donald Sterling was part of something that's much bigger. And you could make an argument, a lot of academics do, that you could walk everything back to housing discrimination. That's so much more important, but it's not as interesting to people.

KURTZ: Right.

JONES: So, I'm not exactly sure how the media is supposed to balance that. Because they're in the business of selling these stories, they are selling these stories that people what to read, there's a demand element, but there's a responsibility also.

KURTZ: Yes. I guess the sexual aspect sells. Bomani Jones, thanks very much for joining us today.

JONES: Thank you.

KURTZ: Ahead on "Media Buzz" John Oliver, master interrogator?

But first, it's four on one as I talk about women, journalism and sex appeal with the ladies of "Outnumbered."


ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Live from America's news headquarters, I'm Eric Shawn. New information in the South Korea ferry tragedy showing serious safety gaps. Documents now reveal that the vessel routinely made trips overloaded with cargo. The ferry apparently exceeded its cargo limit in nearly every voyage it made in the 13 months before it sank. It may have been overloaded more than ever on its final deadly journey. The ferry sank April 16th, leaving more than 300 people, many high school students dead or missing.

Ukraine stepping up its offensive against pro-Russian militants. Authorities say government forces have regained control of a rebel held television tower. That tower considered a key strategic prize in the ongoing battle by both sides to get their message out. This coming in the wake of Friday's intense fighting which killed at least 42 people.

I'm Eric Shawn. I'll see you back at the top of the hour for "America's News Headquarters." now back to "Media Buzz."

KURTZ: What TV guy wouldn't want to be surrounded by women and how does that change the table news dynamic? With Fox launching its new show "Outnumbered" this week, I went to New York to play the role of token male.


KURTZ: As you can see, I am outnumbered, let's get that wide shot here on the set of the new Fox show.



KURTZ: Sandra Smith and Harris Faulkner and Katie Pavlich and Andrea Tantaros. And so, I have to start by asking you, is this the sisterhood trying to take over the media beach head? Is this empowering for you?

SMITH: Hold on to this.

FAULKNER: To put the mailing around their pants like "The sisterhood of the traveling pants." You know what?

KURTZ: I didn't see any pants on this.

FAULKNER: It's just intelligent, smart, fun talk, right?

SMITH: Hold on. You're outnumbered. We ask the questions around here. How does it feel to sit in that seat?

KURTZ: It feels slightly intimidating.


KURTZ: All directions. And I assume my role here is to kind of get slapped around a little bit.

SMITH: No, not so much.

ANDREA TANTAROS: No, no. A lot of times we will agree with the man sitting in the middle. We take different opinions. But you know if you look at demographics in the United States, there's more women than men now. And so, a lot of topics are female dominated. So, this show, I think reflects that.

SMITH: Yeah, it does. And also it's just to acknowledge that men and women are different. We do have different perspectives we look at things differently. So, it's fun to kind of take some of the heavy hitting new stories of the day and some lighter topics and see how we all kind of look at them differently.

PAVLICH: Yeah, and there's no show like this on air right now. I mean this is very original, very unique, this is something that's not going on anywhere. It's not going on in another time slot. So, it's nice for people to spend their lunch with us. They can hear about serious topics, some more fun things like the ones that we did last week.

KURTZ: And how many times have you been on panels where there's basically a bunch of dudes and you're the one wearing the dress?

PAVLICH: Well, I actually work more in Washington, D.C., So, I can tell you, it's nice to be around some ladies and dresses and around men in suits all the time. No offense.


FAULKNER: I was reading that 18 percent make up female in Congress. So I mean, women are a topic anyway, especially when you go to D.C.

PAVLICH: Yeah, and the government is dominated by men.

KURTZ: But what about the media? We now have - ABC News has a female anchor, CBS News did until Katie Couric moved on, the president of NBC News is a woman, on Fox, and primetime, two of the shows are anchored by women. Do you feel like the imbalance is starting to get rectified a little bit where women were kind of a side show?

FAULKNER: Well, I think that it's important to have all voices at the table. And if there was underrepresentation, certainly it's time to make up the difference. But as long as it's based on merit and based on content and what we bring to the table. If what you're talking about is putting a bunch of women in skirts around the table and they don't really have much to say, I don't think that accomplishes what you are talking about in terms of building up equality. But if you can make it about the content and we happen to be women and we happen to be friends and have fun and all that.

SMITH: And we are all very different. I mean we all have a very different background.

TANTAROS: You know, Fox News gets a bad rap by others in the media who critics Fox News. For, maybe not having enough women on the set, they say it's all legs and lip gloss. But our chairman, Roger Ailes, was the first CEO to put a female in prime time. He also lets the women at his network, which there's a lot of them, actually talk. And he makes sure that they have a brain. You watch some of these other morning shows, I don't have to tell you which one, Howie, a lot of the women don't have a lot to say. They're outnumbered by men who speak over them. And they just go - hm. We all know who we're talking about.

FAULKNER: I do want to say, though, that there are a lot of legs and some lip gloss.

PAVLICH: And we like that.

FAULKNER: There is that.


KURTZ: There isn't anything wrong with it, but you're saying there's a kind of stereotype of the Fox pond?

SMITH: Yes, that's out there. Yes. I think we can all acknowledge that.

KURTZ: Right. And the unfair thing about that is, you do have a lot to say and you're not here because you're good looking.

SMITH: Listen, everyone that you're sitting on this couch with right now comes from a very serious in-depth background whether it's their careers, whether it's their educational background. And we're all very experienced journalists. You know, it's all -- this show, we put the man in the hot seat. He has got a big job. That's to ...

KURTZ: I'm already sweating, I've got to tell you.


SMITH: Next question.

KURTZ: Right. But isn't there something in television, this far transcends Fox News, that women not only have to be smart and experienced and know their stuff but, you know, they have got to spend three hours a day in hair and make-up. And all of this stuff. I mean do you ever - has that ever bother you that there is that perception that if you're not good looking, you have got to have a tough time in the TV business?

FAULKNER: Well, we don't have to do that. It's by choice, you know. If you look statistically, taller men do better. We like to be in the company.

KURTZ: I'm working on that, by the way.

FAULKNER: Oh, stop it. But we - I mean if you looked at studies, we like to psychologically be in the company of people who capture our attention. Now, that's different for the individual. But I think beauty is empirical, right? In some form, shape. So, a little make-up, a little something that is built for a visual medium, and then you have a good mix.

PAVLICH: And why is it that people get criticized - this happens a lot, people criticize Fox - why is that we get criticized for showing up and looking nice?

SMITH: On a visual medium.

PAVLICH: Yeah, on a visual medium. Do we have to downgrade that and not get ready for our job?

SMITH: And that's a great question.

TANTAROS: If we didn't, we'd take heat for that as well.

KURTZ: But so you guys - you say something brilliant, and then you get e- mails saying I hated your hair.

FAULKNER: Just (INAUDIBLE) with that.

TANTAROS: If I eat a large salad, they question, you know, what's going on? You - and know, your stomach is sticking out.


TANTAROS: So, we are under scrutiny. I have found, though, that it makes you better, I think. I mean growing up in a boys club in politics, because there was so much pressure on us, we had to read more, we had to study more, we had to be just a little bit better because they were looking at you going, is she smart?

KURTZ: Do you agree with that?

TANTAROS: And I think it's ...

PAVLICH: She's spot on with that.

SMITH: I do. I mean I grew up in entered my career was in a man's world. I was a trader. I came from the trading floors in Chicago. I was on male- dominated trading desks. It gave me my toughness. I didn't want to hide that. I think that - and by the way, I think that when we all sit here as women, we empower each other.

FAULKNER: That's true, too. I grew up on military bases. I was born in an Army base, and I'm child of an aviator/combat pilot in Vietnam. And I was always surrounded by men as a child because my father was with the people we were serving with, right? So, even on base - even though there were other kids, girls and boys, when we would get together, my parents would be with friends, they would be, you know, the generals, the colonels, the majors, whatever. And there were not women in those ranks at that point. And if there were, there were so few that they weren't represented in great numbers where we stationed.

PAVLICH: And I grew up hunting with my dad. I have a younger brother. But my mom is also a very powerful woman. She started her own business, she was a professor at one point in her life. So, we all have different kinds of back grounds. But, you know, I grew up - my dad treated me the same way as he treated my brother in that. It wasn't about me being a girl, it was that you can do everything, not because of the difference, but just because you're capable of doing it.

FAULKNER: I love that.

KURTZ: Well, for the record, guys are also expected to show up and look good. And not look like ....

FAULKNER: Do you want some lip gloss?


KURTZ: Yeah.


KURTZ: I just kind of rushed out here, you know, I feel - I feel outnumbered but in a good way.

SMITH: That's a sweet thing to say.

FAULKNER: Thanks for stopping by.

KURTZ: Maybe you'll have me back.

SMITH: Oh, absolutely.

KURTZ: Thanks for sitting down with us here in New York.


AZUZ: That was fun. "Outnumbered" airs noon eastern during weekdays on Fox News. After the break, what if we learned that decade later about Jayson Blair's journalistic fraud at "The New York Times" We'll talk about my role in a new documentary.


KURTZ: 11 years ago I began looking into a "New York Times" reporter named Jayson Blair. What happened next is chronicled in a new film, "A Fragile Trust" that airs tomorrow on some PBS stations. Even after all these years, Jayson Blair can't answer the basic question.



JAYSON BLAIR: This one I get now. I don't have a good answer for the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It began like most stories with a tip.


KURTZ: Blair had written a piece about a Texas woman whose son was missing in Iraq, much of which was lifted almost word for word from the "San Antonio Express News." I tracked down the paper's editor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before I could even hear from either of them, Howard Kurtz, the media critic of "The Washington Post" called me.

KURTZ: Faced with this information, I had to decide, was it a one-time a bit of sloppiness by this reporter for "the New York Times"? Was there a larger pattern here?


KURTZ: I found several more instances in which Blair just made stuff up.


KURTZ: Over the next several days I started examining just about everything that Jayson Blair had ever written for "The New York Times" and it very quickly became clear that this guy was a fabricator.


KURTZ: There were real victims here, I'll never forget talking to a Cleveland minister whose son had been killed in Iraq. Blair had written a moving piece about this, but he never talked to the man, never had even been to Cleveland. The case raised so many difficult questions from Blair's drug abuse to whether his problems have been overlooked because of affirmative action. "Times'" Andrew Howarin (ph) had to resign after an internal investigations, and Blair cashed in by writing a book which I finally got to interview him along with some others.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the time it took for you to come up with these details, in that same amount of time you could have actually done the ground work. You're just a pathological liar.


KURTZ: It would be nice to say that everyone in the news business learned from Jayson Blair's disgrace. But over the years, unfortunately, I've had to cover other plagiarists who steal other people's work.

It was an undeniable scoop for "The Daily Beast" where I used to work. Reporter Josh Rogin is closing that John Kerry had warned world leaders in a closed door meeting that Israel was in danger of becoming an apartheid state. The secretary of state made his highly controversial remarks to the trilateral commission, Rogin reported, "A recording which was obtained by "The Daily Beast." In other article attributed to (INAUDIBLE). Now, Rogin gave the audio and an interview to Fox's James Rosen. What Rogin didn't say, but Rosen learned was that he made the recording himself after sneaking into the off-the-record session. After a week of little comment, Rogin said Friday, "Damn right I did." He says there's nothing unethical about just walking into the meeting unnoticed. And if I had to do it all over again, I would do it in the exact same way." You know, I don't have a great problem with reporter slipping into a meeting. I might have done that once or twice in my career. As long as he doesn't misrepresent himself. But the problem, Rogin should have come clean right away in his stories about what he did.

Coming up, John Oliver's new HBO show was all about comedy, at least until he sat down with the former head of the NSA. Our "video verdict" is next.


KURTZ: Time now for our video verdict. When John Oliver launched his new HBO show last week tonight, we were all expecting a lot of laughs.

ASHBURN: But it turns out that this comedian can grill an important newsmaker. When Oliver sat down with former NSA director Keith Alexander he wasn't just playing for punchlines.


JOHN OLIVER: People's concerns of things are that you're not just taking the haystack, you're taking the whole farm and the county and the state and you've now got some folks and the farmer's wife in the shower as well.

KEITH ALEXANDER, FORMER NSA DIRECTOR: So NSA is not allowed to go do that on its own. It has oversight, and in every case to my knowledge, everyone except for 12 individuals, stepped forward at the time they made those mistakes.

OLIVER: Right, but you can't say everyone except for 12. That's not saying I've never killed anyone apart from those three people that I have buried under my patio at home


KURTZ: You know, unlike Stephen Colbert John Oliver isn't playing a character, he's a wacky Brit, but he really pressed the former NSA chief even with some humor involved.

ASHBURN: Oh, he did. And I loved what he said. Now, if you could ask Edward Snowden, what would you ask him other than a lot less than what he's said before, right? I mean he just - asked whether or not the name should be changed of the NSA and a rebranding? Should it be the Washington Redskins, which is slightly less offensive.


ASHBURN: I mean he really adds sort of that spice to an interview with hard-hitting questions.

KURTZ: Right. I just thought it was a little silly at the end holding up pictures. So, I'm going to give it a 7.

ASHBURN: No, I'll give it a nine. That was a great interview. OK. The rules are a little different at 3:00 in the morning and Fox's show "Red Eye" is any indication.

KURTZ: But when I was on this week, I tried to bring my usual sense of dignity and gravitas to Greg Gutfeld's show.


GREG GUTFELD: What do you make of the punishment?

KURTZ: First of all, there are always investigative reporters around. How come the gal pal, the woman, the ex-girlfriend, we only know here as V.

GUTFELD: Stiviano.

KURTZ: Yes. We can't find out the first name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got to look at this guy and say, this fool like an old fool. What even he was doing with this woman who was a quarter of his age?

KURTZ: Can I tell you what he was doing with this woman?


KURTZ: That's right.



ASHBURN: OK, Howie, you didn't really succeed there with the gravitas. I think you should keep your day job, and what was that? I mean, you were in K.T. McFarland's ear. Like you were in a bar.

KURTZ: Apparently she didn't mind sitting right next to me unlike you right now.

ASHBURN: Right. I've got to keep my distance from you. I mean I don't think you look that good at 3:00 in the morning.

KURTZ: Well, I'd had a couple of drinks.


KURTZ: Look, I had a lot of fun and it was all the kidding around and you're looser because you know it's on at 3:00 a.m. Sometimes you can make points about a subject in the way you can't when you're in serious anchor mode. So, I'm giving it a 10.

ASHBURN: Oh, my - I'm giving it a two. Two. Two. You didn't even know that V.'s first name was Maria Vanessa Perez. I think you should follow me @laurenashburn and we will discuss this.

KURTZ: Still to come, your best tweets and the president takes on the press at the celebrity-studded White House correspondents dinner.


KURTZ: Here are a few of your top tweets on the coverage of Benghazi. Keith in Tampa says, "If Fox News was not covering this atrocity, no one would know about it. No, definitely not enough coverage," but Bill Kennedy says like CNN, the missing plane and MSNBC with Trayvon Martin, Fox News coverage of Benghazi has been too much for 18 months now. And on Donald Sterling's gal pal, V. Stiviano, David Brown, "There is not one redeeming character in the entire episode."

ASHBURN: I agree completely. It's worse than a soap opera.

KURTZ: Now, there were many A-list celebrities, not as many as usual last night's White House correspondents dinner. But one thing didn't change: the president looking out at the audience of media types and taking a few swipes at us.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I am happy to be here, even though I am a little jet lagged from my trip to Malaysia. The lengths we have to go to to get CNN coverage these days. MSNBC is here.


OBAMA: They are a little overwhelmed.


OBAMA: They have never seen an audience this big before. Let's face it, Fox. You'll miss me when I'm gone.


OBAMA: It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.



ASHBURN: I'm not sure a lot of people at Fox will miss him when he's gone. But I - coming to these dinners, it's crazy because it's like two space aliens meeting each other. You have entertainers, I brought Jenny McCarthy one year.

KURTZ: You brought Jenny McCarty one year?

ASHBURN: I did. I know.

KURTZ: Was she wearing clothes?

ASHBURN: Yes, she was wearing clothes, and introduced her to Colin Powell and the two of them looked at each other like I should know who you are.


KURTZ: There's a reason they call it nerd prom. Well, that's it for this edition of "Media Buzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Check out our Facebook page, give us a like. We post video there and we answer your questions. We're back here next Sunday morning. Remember the time, set your DVR, 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET with the latest buzz.

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