This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," May 18, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: On the buzzmeter this Sunday, I've got exclusive new details of why The New York Times, of why they fired Jill Abramson, its first female editor after she complained about being paid less than male editors. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger hitting back at Abramson yesterday, feeling betrayed and ripping her for bad management, denying her charges about unequal pay. We'll go behind the PR nightmare for the nation's most influential paper. Karl Rove questions Hillary Clinton's health in the wake of that concussion she suffered and is widely attacked for a low blow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, she had a serious episode, a serious health episode and I don't know about you, but if you go through a serious health episode it causes you to look at life a little bit differently and this was a serious deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Did the Fox News contributor go too far or also prodding the press into focusing on Hillary's age?
Donald Sterling digs himself a deeper hole by slamming Magic Johnson. CNN's Anderson Cooper succeeded exposing the NBA owner's hateful nuttiness, the ESPN's Mike Wilbon weighs in.
Plus, Barbara Walters hanging it up after a broadcasting career of more than 50 years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW" CO-HOST & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: True, I was the first female co-host of a network news program, but it's also true that I was a flop, as you heard my male co-host didn't want a partner, and I neither did the audience, I was drowning, I was gasping for air, and then someone threw me that life preserver called "Specials."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: How did she change television and can "The View" thrive without her?
I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."
So, this is a Fox News alert, new information emerging about what's become a civil war at the New York Times. Now, it was a happy day at The Times when Jill Abramson was the first female executive editor in its 160 year history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL ABRAMSON, FMR NEW YORK TIMES EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I'm so proud of the fact that I am the first woman to hold this job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: But the times took a beating after she was abruptly fired this week amid press reports that she was paid less than her male predecessor. Late yesterday in an extraordinary second statement from the publisher, with Sulzberger accusing Abramson of arbitrary decision making and the public mistreatment of colleagues and again, flatly denying the allegation of unequal pay. This after Sulzberger promoted Dean Baquet who had clashed with Abramson to be the paper's first African-American executive editor.
But New Yorker's Ken Auletta had disclosed that Abramson complained to The Times weeks ago that her compensation was lower than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN AULETTA, NEW YORKER MEDIA WRITER: She wasn't just fired, clearly, because the pay disparity issue. She - that fed into a narrative that she was difficult to work with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now Lauren Ashburn, Fox News contributor and former USA Today: executive who hosts "Social Buzz" on the Fox website. Rick Grenell, a Fox News contributor and former Bush administration spokesman and Michelle Cottle, senior writer for The National Journal. Lauren, what do you make of Arthur Sulzberger who's been getting killed in the press for alleged sexism. Hitting back yesterday and denouncing the woman who he hired for that job?
LAUREN ASHBURN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: They bungled it, completely and absolutely bungled it. And the reason that they had to put something out on Saturday was because of all the Sunday shows like this who are going to be talking about how The New York Times really bungled it. So, the problem is, is that it's pathetic that he had to attack Jill, the woman he just shoved out the door.
KURTZ: Pathetic because - he's defending himself against a lot of coverage that was sort of favorable to Abramson.
ASHBURN: Well, he was. They spent a lot of ink, though, on this equal pay issue, and now it turns out that there wasn't equal pay, even though The Times says that there was, and they look like hypocrites.
KURTZ: The coverage, I would have to say, Rich, has been heavily weighted towards this equal pay issue and that was not the only issue no matter what interpretation you buy in her dismissal.
RICHARD GRENELL: Well, first of all, we can talk about this story all day. I think it's fantastic. To have the publisher of the New York Times complaining about mainstream media coverage is fantastic.
GRENELL: I mean, here - this is the tragedy ...
KURTZ: You try to restrain yourself.
GRENELL: This is the team that created the mainstream media tactic of bullying. And let's be very clear, I disagree with Lauren completely.
ASHBURN: Oh, good.
GRENELL: The simple fact is that there was one source in the Ken Auletta story. That's clear it was Jill Abramson.
KURTZ: This is in The New Yorker. Yes.
GRENELL: In The New Yorker. She completely made up this whole phony argument that she was paid less. The New York Times is on the record -- The New York Times is on the record saying it's not true. Why would Ken Auletta ...
ASHBURN: You believe "the New York Times?"
GRENELL: I don't believe - I don't believe The New Yorker's unsourced anonymous sourcing on this story. Ken Auletta first wrote that this was an issue she was fired over because she was paid less. The New York Times has been on the record saying it's not true. Shameful of the main stream media that follow Ken Auletta story.
KURTZ: I want to come back to this equal pay question. Because it's a little bit complicated. But shall we still have here an issue where a newspaper has canned a woman who - and gotten into a public fight with a woman and then trashed a woman who had until a few days ago been its leader, the leader of its newsroom?
MICHELLE COTTLE, SENIOR WRITER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: That's right. And it got all the good press when she became editor so you live by the gender, you die by the gender. And on some level they are going to have to address questions and come up with kind of why this happened. I mean, they talk about how difficult she was. She managed down poorly. She had fights with people in the newsroom. But it doesn't sound like she managed up very well either ...
COTTLE: And so basically when it came time to explain this, the pay issue seems like a pretty convenient one.
KURTZ: Right. No, there's a number of reasons that she was let go. Ultimately, Abramson lost the confidence of her boss, Sulzberger, but one of the triggering events seems to be that she had (INAUDIBLE) to hire a lawyer and complained to Times about how much money she has been paid.
ASHBURN: Well, hiring a lawyer, I think, it's pretty extreme, but look, this happens with women, and if you think that it doesn't, it does, and I know it firsthand. When I was promoted to being an executive at USA Today, I found out that my male predecessor was making a ridiculously larger salary than I was, and I said that I demanded that I be paid equal, equally, with this man. That was a huge risk for me to do that, because he could have said you are out of here. No.
KURTZ: But isn't that dangerous for you and other women to challenge that when you get offered a promotion?
ASHBURN: Well, and of course, it's dangerous. You know, this whole Sheryl Sandberg book called "Lean In," talking about how you have to say what your worth is and what your value is, well, it seems to me, even though she did it a bit aggressively that Jill Abramson leaned in and was executed.
GRENELL: Well, The Times says that's not true. I mean, look, I agree, if a woman is underpaid to a man and they are doing the same job, it's outrageous, it's wrong. It shouldn't happen. This - I absolutely agree with you that this seems like a very convenient excuse by Jill Abramson. When she was - we knew she was mean spirited. We knew she was nasty.
KURTZ: Wait, what are you talking about?
GRENELL: We've seen all of the - we've seen her reports over the last three years that she can't get along with people.
KURTZ: OK, so when male editors of the New York Times, I'm thinking of how Rhames (ph), who I covered and who wasn't fired until the Jayson Blair fiasco, and Abe Rosenthal who ruled - like a tyrant, when they can't get along with people, it's like oh, it's really - is an aggressive boss. I mean are women described differently in terms of their management style.
COTTLE: Absolutely. You know, I've had some crazy male bosses over the years that nobody chalked it up to, you know, kind of, they don't have what it takes. It's just the way that women are treated, and on some level, even if women tend to be a little bit harsher, which I don't know, maybe she was, you have to ask is that how they got to where they are, because I've been in situations where women have the exact same things to say in editorial meetings and the exact same pitches and they get ignored.
GRENELL: And that's wrong. I have to say that that's wrong. But I don't think that that's the issue here.
ASHBURN: The real issue is whether or not this would be done if it were a gruff man who had gone up against his staff and done things. Would he have been fired the exact same way as a woman? There's a very narrow band of acceptable behavior for women in management. You can't be too feminine, you can't be too masculine, otherwise you are seen as pushy.
KURTZ: And we do have to say, let me just get this in here, that, you know, there was no scandal at the New York Times under her watch. She won eight Pulitzer prizes, the paper did, under her tenure. The paper was thriving pretty well, given the difficulties newspapers are having. And so, let me come back to the equal pay thing because it gets a little complicated.
GRENELL: I don't totally agree with that. I think that they have tanked a little bit. The New York Times. Gone left wing, they are losing credibility and I think that directly goes to Jill Abramson.
KURTZ: Well, the newspaper leans to the left, there's no question. Jill Abramson is also somebody who has been widely cited by conservatives saying that the Obama White House is the most secretive that she's covered ...
GRENELL: She was the last one to say it. Everybody said it. And she was the last one.
KURTZ: And on this equal pay thing, there is salary, and clearly, - And (INAUDIBLE), Jill Abramson, especially in previous jobs made as much as $100,000 less than a man in a comparable job. When it comes to her current compensation, there's also a pension, there are bonuses that make - that Sulzberger may well be right in saying that she made ten percent more, but it seemed to me to be a tipping point. Because she also have another - into office politics, but she went out to hire a co-managing editor from The Guardian Janine Gibson, and she didn't tell her current managing editor Dean Baquet, who, by the way, is now the first African American editor of The New York Times because he was elevated in the wake of Abramson firing. And that was seen as another example of her heavy handed management.
GRENELL: What I want to focus on, really, is those issues I think are important. We need to find out the facts. We need to find out if Jill was underpaid. The New York Times is saying it's absolutely not true. I'm focused on the coverage here. The media coverage was atrocious. They all jumped on and believed Ken Auletta's story, which was a convenient liberal diatribe that this was about a pay issue. She spoke up, she got fired over it, when the facts of the matter show she was a bad manager, and the paper wasn't doing well underneath her, and the moral was terrible. That's why she got fired.
KURTZ: Right. I'm told that that Sulzberger had just had it, not just because - not because of the pay issue, but because of this incident - and I described involving her deputy Dean Baquet, but also in terms of the coverage, meaning that if we can put up the cover of The New York Post, this is an Instagram photo that Jill Abramson's daughter posted of her, it says "An-Grey Lady," with her in the boxing gloves sitting on the punching bag. And so, would you say that perhaps through whispering through media friends that Abramson and her allies have controlled the narrative here and making appear or to be the put upon person?
COTTLE: I think it's a combination of that and just women who had experiences like Lauren had had, you know, Politico magazine, Susan Glasser put out a piece talking about how she's had several experiences like that. So, you're playing into what is already a really touchy talk. I don't agree that it's been all about the money. I mean Auletta's story was - make up a lot of coverage, but there are also a lot of pieces out there that just ask the question about whether or not women can get away with the same sorts of management techniques men do.
KURTZ: This is - very briefly.
ASHBURN: This is - I just want to say, this is a very one percent issue, right, that we're talking about, but it affects women, if the pay allegations are true, it affects women all across the country in terms of the kind -- in terms of how the coverage is portrayed of women.
KURTZ: I feel very safe in saying we have not heard the end of this story. Send me a tweet during our hour about this show. I'm Howard Kurtz. We are going to read the best messages later on. When we come back, Karl Rove under fire for challenging Hillary Clinton's health. Did he cross the line? And later, ESPN's Michael Robon (ph) on the latest in Donald Sterling fiasco.
KURTZ: Karl Rove touched off a media furor this week when The New York Post said that a conference he had questioned the extent of Hillary Clinton's injuries from her 2012 concussion, even suggesting, according to the tabloid, that she might have suffered brain damage. The Bush White House official turned Fox News contributor responded in an interview with Bill Hemmer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE: I didn't say she had brain damage. She had a serious health episode. I mean, she basically is out of action from -- she's in and out of the office for starting on the Seventh of December after she returns, she returns on a Friday from the Czech Republic, but then it begins an over a month long period where she's got a serious illness, ending up putting her in the hospital. We don't know what the doctor said about, you know, what does she have to be concerned about. We don't know about - but she's hidden a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Rove's detractors including some conservatives pounced on his remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With shocking and I'll say, I think, reprehensible comments from Karl Rove.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was this vicious assault by Karl Rove to force the Democratic front runner to advance her announcement day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is the worst kind of Republican consultant behavior this kind of personal negative attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what Karl did was purposeful and brilliant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Rick, by and large, Karl Rove has gotten denounced over this, including some folks on the right.
GRENELL: Well, I don't think that you can count Newt Gingrich as the incredible ...
KURTZ: He used to ...
GRENELL: No, he's a conservative. But on this issue, he and Karl have a long history. So, I think pounding on that was legitimate. I think The Wall Street Journal had the best piece on this issue. And they literally said Rove's comments put spotlight on Hillary's health. The fact of the matter is, we don't know what happened. That Clintons kept this information very private. Then Bill Clinton drops a bomb that six weeks of recovery that Hillary had to go through. We didn't know that.
KURTZ: Six months.
GRENELL: Six months.
GRENELL: The mainstream media had not reported that. What decisions were made during those six months? There's a whole bunch to speculate and to talk about. This is a serious issue and I think the health of Hillary should be focused on.
KURTZ: Michelle, of course, Hillary Clinton's health and her age are fair game, like anybody who runs for president, if indeed she does that. But did Rove go further than that and did he overstate the case?
COTTLE: It's what he does. And I think there's a certain sinister genius to it. He'll get a lot of blowback now. But the issue will be out there, and people will focus on it, and they'll forget kind of why they even brought it up to begin with, and as we go along, it will be in there and people will discuss this a lot.
ASHBURN: I couldn't agree more with you, Michelle, because what they did was they floated - he floated a trial balloon for political coverage for 2016 elections and even though that balloon was being shot down by liberals, it still -- the issue is still being talked about. Politico on the day that his happened, had eight different stories talking about this. And I checked an MSNBC as of Thursday night in its prime time schedule was still talking about it on four of the five shows.
GRENELL: Like talking about Rove and his comments, not so much about Hillary's health and all the questions that still remain unanswered.
ASBURN: But my point is that you have to talk about Hillary's health in order to talk about Rove, so therefore the issue is still out there.
KURTZ: I've talked to Karl Rove briefly before we came on the air, and he said to me, I've been saying this for six months. He thinks it's a legitimate issue obviously. So I said - why do you think it exploded now. He said well, he was surprised that it was a headline writer at the New York Post putting brain damage in there as if he was suggesting she was mentally impaired. But he did raise the question of possible brain damage, and so it does suggest to me that Karl Rove accomplished his mission although he sees it differently.
COTTLE: Well, I think he did accomplish his mission and in addition to the health issue, it raises the age issue, which people - every time we've brought this up on any channel, they are talking about, she's going to be 69 or is this too old ...
KURTZ: And 77 after her second term.
COTTLE: And even when they bring up that Karl didn't feel this way when people were talking about McCain's age, it's still ...
KURTZ: Exactly what people talked about McCain's age. Let's face it, the media talked about John McCain's age, and Bob Dole's age, and Ronald Reagan's age. So, everybody - there is no real dispute here that the issue is legitimate. It's whether or not Rove went too far in the way that he framed it?
ASHBURN: Well, that's very true. And I have to give credit to Fox for holding his feet to the fire. Bill Hemmer had an interview with him the next day, in which he said, OK, Karl, let's talk about this inaccuracy, where you said she was in the hospital for 30 days. She was only in the hospital for three days. I mean this could have been an issue that because Karl Rove is a Fox News contributor we could have swept under the rug and not dealt with.
GRENELL: The difference between the McCain and Hillary Clinton, is that the media were curious and reported on McCain's age before there was any type of scandal. They are only focusing on Hillary issue and whether or not the six months is a serious issue because Karl Rove raised it.
KURTZ: She's not running yet. The campaign hasn't actually ...
GRENELL: Tell that for the mainstream media here in D.C. They are acting like she's a frontrunner.
COTTLE: Well, he had to overstate it in order to get the kind of saturation coverage. He wanted - otherwise, it would be - comes and he says, well, you know, she had this small incident and had a little health problem.
KURTZ: That nobody writes about and nobody talks about, but is there an inherent problem? This is not unique to Fox, when you have somebody who's playing two roles, both a cable commentator and a partisan fundraiser. Karl Rove, it is no secret, you know, in the last campaign, helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the Republican Party.
COTTLE: Well, sure, but I don't think anybody believes that Karl is a neutral observer in all of this. It's pretty straightforward. He has a reputation. And his reputation is - he has some pretty good dirty tricks up his sleeves from years past. And everyone knows that. You know what you get.
KURTZ: You know what you get. That's the key. You know what you get. We don't know with reporters.
ASHBURN: That's what Chris Wallace talked about today on their round table is that people do know what Karl Rove stands for.
KURTZ: He certainly has a knack for attracting attention, which is why we are talking about this issue now. Michelle Cottle, Rick Grenell, thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday. Ahead on "MediaBuzz," A look at Barbara Walters's legacy as she bows up, but first, Donald Sterling slams Magic Johnson. The media's role in this basketball disaster. ESPN's Mike Wilbon in moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD STERLING: The fans don't hate me. The media hates. The media - it's all the media pushy here.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you really - honestly, you really believe?
STERLING: I believe it 100 percent.
KURTZ: It seemed like Donald Sterling was going to fade into obscurity after being banned by the NBA. We had enough about the tape, in which he scolded his gal pal V. Stiviano for posting an Instagram photo with Magic Johnson. And then told her not bring him or other black people to Clippers' games. But then Sterling sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper and couldn't stop talking about magic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD STERLING, OWNER, L.A. CLIPPERS: What kind of a guy goes (INAUDIBLE) and he has sex with every girl. Then he catches HIV and is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? What does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: I spoke earlier with Mike Wilbon, a co-host of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" from Chicago.
Mike Wilbon, welcome.
MICHAEL WILBON, CO-HOST, "PARDON THE INTERRUPTION": Thank you, Howie.
KURTZ: I thought the media were done with this Donald Sterling story. I thought maybe we reached the point of overdoing this story, now there are new tapes, in which Sterling talks about having sex with V. Stiviano. He's fighting the NBA's $2.5 million fine. Is this an important story?
WILBON: Yes, it is. And look, it is salacious as well, but it is an important story. I don't know the last time that we had a public figure in a place like Los Angeles, no less, someone who owns a sports franchise, all these things are true about Donald Sterling, say something this hateful that became public. I know he thought he was saying it privately, but in this day and age I think that people who have public lives at all know that nothing can be guaranteed to remain private. It's like Archie Bunker without the laugh track. And so, you say this and you know you are in a business where the players who are your employees are 70 percent or north of that African-American. You know that. If you were in some other industry, maybe this doesn't cause the stir that it does, and this wasn't Donald Sterling's first time, and the players very famous, well paid, high profile people themselves, said you know what, we could walk out, we could walk out on the NBA playoffs right now.
KURTZ: That is true. But that is true.
WILBON: That's not happened in the major league baseball or football.
KURTZ: He goes on to apologize. He's going to say sorry. So he goes on to CNN's Anderson Cooper and he ends up attacking Magic Johnson. Digging himself a deeper hole?
WILBON: Yes, and, by the way, he dug himself a deeper hole as you said with a would be apology. That's not an apology. And so, I think that - that made it so much worse., because then people were paying attention. And this was not just some, you know, some social media release. It wasn't a TMZ release. Everybody could see this in the interview and make of Donald Sterling what they wanted to.
KURTZ: Right. So then Magic Johnson decides to respond, also in the CNN interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAGIC JOHNSON: You know, first of all, 22 years ago, I announced that I did have HIV, and I came out like a man, you know. I told the world. I didn't blame nobody else. I understood what I did was wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Was it a smart move for Magic Johnson to engage, in effect, Donald Sterling by rebutting him on CNN?
WILBON: You have to engage now, Howie. You can't - you can't just sort of let these things stand out there. Donald Sterling as if he knows anything about what happens in the minority community as he tries to suggest saying that Magic Johnson is not a role model, Magic Johnson could be the most important black businessman in America today. Donald Sterling who is completely ignorant of that and almost anything else regarding Magic Johnson. No, Magic can't let that sort of stand and let that be sort of on the record and he not be on the record. That would have been ill advised. KURTZ: It's right.
WILBON: Somebody who has worked with Magic and now has been a friend of his for years, I would have said you can't let that stand. You have to come back at Donald Sterling.
KURTZ: Right. But now, Magic, as you recall, you know, shocked the world in 1991 when we all knew less about these things, when he announced he had HIV, is it fair to criticize him over that?
WILBON: You can be critical if you want. It still doesn't mean he's not a role model. That's stupid. It's ignorant. It's ignorant of the facts about - What Donald Sterling also said was that essentially Magic Johnson doesn't do enough for his own community, when Magic Johnson is viewed as a hero in his own community, is beloved, and when I say community, I'm talking about the African-American community, urban areas across America where urban - urban joints - to people to work. Donald Sterling, apparently, ignorant s also in those areas.
KURTZ: And then you had Sterling's wife, his estranged wife, Shelly, going on in today show. And on the "Today" show, she says, she's going to get around to divorcing him, when she says he's suffering from dementia. My question is has this story, which we all were so repulsed over and the words that we heard from Sterling, the racist ran, has this now turned into just a media soap opera?
WILBON: No. It's still more than a media soap opera for a couple of reasons. One, remember, the NBA owners and the league - so we're talking about 29 other billionaires, they want Donald Sterling out. They want to force him to sell his franchise. And that franchise, which people thought two or three weeks ago might sell for $700 or so million. It looks like it's going to go for north of $1.5 billion by the time he finally gets around to selling it.
KURTZ: Let me move you to another sports controversy before I let you go. ESPN cameras were there when Michael Sam was drafted by the NFL. It will be the first openly gay player in the league. And of course everybody then replayed endlessly and debated endlessly the footage of him kissing his boyfriend kind of in celebration. Do you think the media made too much of that?
WILBON: Yeah, I do. But Howie, I mean again - these are personal choices. My thought at this point is that coming out and announcing it, what Michael Sam did, that was the huge story. That was -- and it was more than just symbolic. It was an enormous story and still is. Because he hasn't even made the team yet. We don't know if he's going to actually play for the St. Louis Rams. He was a 7TH round draft choice,
KURTZ: So, why so much focus on the kiss? Why so much media ...
WILBON: Well, but my point is, the kiss is way down the list. Whether he's going to make the team, whether he's going play and contribute, Howard, team makes you going to react once he is in the professional locker room, and opponents. What kind of interaction we are going to get then? All of these things. How is management going to treat him? How is he going to react to all this pressure? I think all of these things were more important, though, perhaps, less symbolic than the kiss, which was salacious in terms of the way it was reacted to on Twitter and other places in social media. But for me, I'm just speaking for myself, now for a network and anybody else it was way down the list, sixth or seventh. And perhaps lower than that. For many people, they saw it as so symbolic that it was the most important thing of the day. I would disagree with that.
KURTZ: Right. Michael Wilbon, always candid with his views, thanks very much for joining us.
WILBON: Howie, thanks for having me.
KURTZ: And Oprah's network just postponed a reality show it was planning with Michael Sam. He hasn't even made to St. Louis Rams. Coming up, media's fixation on Beyonce, and Jay-Z and that elevator video, but first, Barbara Walters signs off from "The View."
KURTZ: What a career. She was once known as the today girl on NBC's morning show. Barbara Walters was the first woman to co-anchor a network evening newscast on ABC with Harry Reasoner, who couldn't stand her. She co-anchored "20-20" and interviewed celebrities and foreign leaders and every president since Nixon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTERS: When you see how Americans today distrust their leaders, don't you feel responsible? Does it bother you today when people say Ronald Reagan is the president of the rich? How important is it for the president to be a role model? Was it worth it if there were no weapons of mass destruction? Why are you so unpopular?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And 17 years ago, of course, she launched "The View." On Friday she said good-bye after attributes from the like of Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY: I pretended I sat like Barbara, I crossed my legs like Barbara, I tried to talk like Barbara.
WALTERS: What an honor to have questioned every U.S. president and first lady from Richard and Pat to Barack and Michelle. So how do you walk away from glamorous specials with the Toms, Hanks and Cruise, or flirt with Clint Eastwood, and also how could you be part of a cutting edge news department for 38 years? Not that it was all sunshine and Valentines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining me now from New York is Marisa Guthrie, who covers television for the Hollywood Reporter. So let's start with "The View." Can Whoopi and Jenny McCarthy and the gang maintain that sort of pop culture importance of the show without Barbara? She was the founder of the franchise.
MARISA GUTHRIE, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: I think it's going to be very hard to replace Barbara, and I don't think that show is going to go as long as Barbara's career has. There is too much competition. Women are working more and women are still the target audience for daytime, and there are too many other ways for the celebrity guests to talk to their fans. I think she's going to be very tough to replace.
KURTZ: "The View" has always leaned left, but right now they need to get a conservative or two on that panel. Going back to the "Today Show," and NBC's Evening News and so forth, is it an overstatement to say that Barbara Walters really blazed the trail for Diane and Katie and all of today's prominent female journalists?
GUTHRIE: No, no, definitely not. I mean, if you think about the institutionalized sexism that existed when she started, she couldn't be on camera, then she was on camera but she was called a today girl. I mean, imagine calling someone that now. She couldn't be called a co-host until Frank McGee actually died. And she couldn't ask a question until he asked three questions. So I think that was -- we can't relate to how hard that must have been to blaze those trails. But yes, she absolutely did that.
KURTZ: She also did a lot of celebrity journalism, most fascinating people, which kind of helped her and the media into today's "Access Hollywood," and I think she even got sick of it toward the end and pulled back.
GUTHRIE: Yes, but her celebrity interviews were interesting and insightful. She appealed to their egos by really listening to the answers, and she was able to disarm them. That was a time when there weren't all of these other outlets doing all this celebrity journalism. So her interviews really stood out. They actually elicited some interesting personal information that wasn't out there in another way. And I think that that's impossible to do now, because of the way the landscape has changed. So, you know, I don't think that she's -- I think the celebrity interviews are part of her legacy, and a lot of them were really interesting. She always asked the question that you wanted to know but you would be too polite to ask yourself.
KURTZ: And she didn't make these interviews about herself. A lot of today's style is to get confrontational, in the person's face. Are you telling me that? And she was a good listener. Yet she wasn't soft. She knew how to put the zingers along with the other questions. A lot of people forget there's so much to cover here about many of the exclusive interviews she had with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and Fidel Castro, and Monica Lewinsky, that was huge after the Clinton impeachment, and even a couple of weeks ago with V. Stiviano, Donald Sterling's close personal friend. But is that era coming to a close, the big get, the big television event where anchor sits down with big newsmaker?
GUTHRIE: Oh, absolutely. I think broadcast news has diminished. The television media landscape is too fractured, and celebrities and politicians are too knowing. They have all had media training. They all know what questions to expect. They all practice in mock interviews, and so I don't think you can do what Barbara did so well, which was to ask the tough question, not in a combative way, not in a judgmental way, and really make the person sitting across from her feel like they were having a conversation with a confidant, with somebody who they could trust, and you can't do that now. Celebrities can talk to their own fans on social media. It's just impossible to do what she did.
KURTZ: As I'm looking at these pictures of Barbara in action, I guess another way of saying it there won't be another Barbara Walters?
GUTHRIE: No, absolutely not. Although I am waiting for the Monica Lewinsky follow-up. I think that might come.
KURTZ: See, I think Barbara will be back on television, not every day, not every week, but we haven't seen the last of her.
GUTHRIE: She will. Oh, yes, we haven't seen the last of her.
KURTZ: Thanks, Marisa Guthrie. Up next, who thought the media would spend the week obsessing on Beyonce's sister? And later a CNBC anchor's angry rant against Republicans.
KURTZ: So perhaps you heard that Beyonce's sister and Jay-Z got into a fight in an elevator, and there's a video, no? Well, television news can't seem to get enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That Jay-Z family drama, caught on camera.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beyonce's younger sister going off the rails on Jay-Z.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go. You've seen this video, in elevator, a surveillance camera, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and there along with Beyonce's sister Solange.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're in a grocery store and you see those celebrity magazines, and it's like, celebrities are just like us, they shop, they get coffee, they look for the sale, and now you can also add on they also have family drama. Right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't decide what I like about this more, the look on Beyonce's face when the elevator opens, or the (inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Apparently Beyonce's sister Solange was angry at Jay-Z, and then she deleted every Instagram photo except one of herself with Beyonce. And then Beyonce tried to make amends by posting four pictures with her sisters on her Instagram account.
Hold on, hold on, wait a second. Why is this such a big story? Well, the grainy nature of the hotel security video obtained by TMZ added to the allure, and this may be the most famous couple in music, and perhaps there was some glee in some quarters that these glittering celebrities have the same kind of family problems as the rest of us. And it's such an easy story for television. Just play that video again and again and again and yak away. And speaking of celebrities in trouble, the media swarmed over Alec Baldwin again after the former MSNBC host was arrested in Manhattan for riding his bike the wrong way and not having ID. Really? Are they running out of criminals in New York? And there were the usual leaked accounts that he cursed out the cops and complained that the young officers didn't know who he is. Baldwin fired back on Twitter saying New York City is a mismanaged carnival of stupidity that is desperate for revenue and anxious to criminalize behavior once thought benign. So the media get a break from depressing stories and everyone gets to wallow in celebrities suffering, I guess, but these stories are like gorging on candy corn. After a while, you feel a bit sick.
After the break, a look at how Anderson Cooper handled the strange ramblings of Donald Sterling. And CNBC's Brian Sullivan going off on the GOP. Our video verdict is next.
KURTZ: Time for our video verdict. Brian Sullivan is a CNBC news anchor, not an opinion guy, but he had plenty of opinions during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
ASHBURN: Sullivan was talking about growing up in a conservative family, and then as he questioned what the Republican Party stands for, he started raising his voice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM SULLIVAN, CNBC: As somebody that grew up in a conservative household, I don't recognize the Republican Party of my youth. I don't like what I see. I don't like the far right. I don't like the extremism, right? They have pushed me away. As somebody who is pretty much not religious, right, pro-same-sex marriage, pro legalization of marijuana for the most part, okay, what party is this? What party am I supposed to be in? When I'm a fiscal conservative, who believes that small government can often be better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHBURN: Okay. Wow. I mean, he really went off on the party. Take that aside and whatever he seems to be thinking about the conservatives and the Tea Party, it was good TV. I was riveted when I first saw this.
KURTZ: This guy is supposed to be a straight news anchor for a business channel. He's not an opinionator, and everything he says about the Republican Party - he is entitled in his opinion - but everything he says in his reporting is going to be viewed from that prism.
ASHBURN: It is, and people will look at him differently. Now they know, and they can also make the decision to go click if they don't want to watch him anymore, and that could hurt him in ratings.
KURTZ: I think this reinforces the reputation of MSNBC as a bunch of left wingers. I'm giving it a 2.
ASHBURN: I'm giving it an 8. 2? I'm giving it an 8, for the value of entertainment on TV.
And I'm kind of sick of Donald Sterling, but his interview with Anderson Cooper is worth examining for how the CNN anchor handled his strange ramblings.
KURTZ: The NBA owner banned for his racist comments to his close personal friend V. Stiviano tried to insist that race had nothing to do with it when he told her not to be photographed with Magic Johnson or bring him or others to the games.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: The thing is, though, what you were saying wasn't I don't want you seen with other guys. You were saying I don't want you to be seen with black guys.
DONALD STERLING: Because she used the word black guys. I'm bringing some gorgeous black guys.
COOPER: But in the tape, you are the one who brings out -- you said why are you taking pictures with minorities, why? Later on you say it bothers me a lot. You want to broadcast you're associating with black people, do you have to? She says, You associate with black people. You say, I'm not you, you're not me. You're supposed to be a delicate white or a delicate Latina girl.
STERLING: I can't explain some of the stupid, foolish, uneducated words that I uttered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHBURN: Good for Anderson Cooper for the get, which was hard to do. I understand Barbara Walters was also trying to get him, but, you know, he did ask some tough questions, but if you sit this guy down in a chair, he's going to say something that's controversial.
But I think Anderson has a very understated style, and he doesn't get in your face and he didn't confront but he had the information. He elicited a lot of newsworthy/ really stupid and embarrassing things from Donald Sterling, and that's a lost art, I think.
ASHBURN: I think it is, too, to make people feel comfortable enough to do that, but as I said, this guy would say pretty much anything.
KURTZ: Just turn the camera on.
ASHBURN: That's right.
KURTZ: I'm giving it a 9?
ASHBURN: What? Again, you're surprising me.
I'm giving it a 7.
KURTZ: Still to come, your best tweets and some final thoughts on what Barbara Walters meant to television news.
KURTZ: Here are a few of your top tweets on why Barbara Walters has been successful for so long. CBS's Erin Moriarty, resilience, remembered more for her successes than failures. Vacuous Cypher, "being a plucky dame with spunk, perhaps." Richard W. Bianco, "providing "SNL " with great material." And the New York Times firing editor, Jill Abramson. Ace Bailey (ph), "by leaking the New York Times story to her media friends, Jill Abramson has proved she's toxic and disrespectful and wants fame." John Rigas, "How is it sexist to fire someone if you don't think they are going a good job? Fire them, gender aside."
ASHBURN: Couldn't agree more. Fire them if they are mismanaging things. But if there is an issue of equal pay, then it has to be addressed.
KURTZ: My sources say that Arthur Sulzberger felt he was going to lose Dean Baquet, whom he made the editor, if he didn't get rid of Jill Abramson. Finally, Barbara Walters, when she said farewell on "The View" Friday, there was an amazing parade of television journalists who came out to embrace her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: We all proudly stand on your shoulders, Barbara Walters, as we honor you. Please welcome Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer, Elizabeth Vargas, Amy Robach, Debra Roberts, (inaudible), Katie Couric.
WALTERS: I just want to say this is my (inaudible), this is my legacy, these are my legacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHBURN: Plucky dame with spunk is what one of our viewers had to call her.
KURTZ: What a royal sendoff though.
ASHBURN: It was great, and this is a woman, I don't care what profession if you've been in and successful for 50 years in a profession, and she's influenced me and a ton of other women who have gone on to have wonderful careers.
KURTZ: Were you very aware of her when you were growing up and thinking of a TV career?
ASHBURN: Most definitely. The three men I watched growing up, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and, you know --
KURTZ: Dan Rather.
ASHBURN: Dan Rather.
KURTZ: Barbara Walters will be back. I predict, you heard it here. That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz," I'm Howard Kurtz. Give our Facebook page a like. We talk to you there. We post videos in response to your questions, also follow us on Twitter. We're back here next Sunday morning at 11 and 5 Eastern with the latest buzz.
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