Why the media botched Cantor's loss

Fail to cover Majority Leader's race


This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," June 15, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Father's Day, the political pundits blow it big time, insisting that Eric Cantor would breeze to victory in his Virginia primary, dismissing the notion that Tea Party novice David Brat could knock off the House majority leader. And then the actual results came in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a shocker in the world of politics tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stunning. Everybody is shocked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking tonight, a stunning defeat on primary night as one of the most powerful Republicans on Capitol Hill goes down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're switching up plans to start covering what is honestly a shocking development in American politics tonight.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Tonight a stunning upset in the Virginia Republican primary race.


KURTZ: Shocking, how did political journalists get this one so wrong? We've got an all-star lineup, Brit Hume, Mary Katherine Ham, Kirsten Powers, and Laura Ingraham, who used her microphone to champion Brat's campaign.

Hillary blitzes the airwaves with a book tour, and network anchors press her on Benghazi, her health and her wealth.


DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Is there anything you personally should have been doing to make it safer in Benghazi?

I wonder if people are looking for a sentence that begins from you, I should have -- I should have --

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I certainly would give anything on earth that this had not happened.

SAWYER: You had said repeatedly that you take responsibility for what happened in Benghazi.

CLINTON: I do. I do.

SAWYER: Doesn't that include testifying before Congress if they want you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people were surprised you didn't really after all that you read and wrote in the book, that you didn't talk about your concussion that you had in 2012.


KURTZ: Were the interviewers tough enough on the Democratic front- runner?

Iraq back on our television screens after years of war fatigue. Are journalists asking the right questions? .

Plus, the O.J. Bronco chase, 20 years ago this week. Did that moment push the media into an era of celebrity crime and sheer sensationalism? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

On Tuesday morning, the Washington Post said Eric Cantor's obscure opponent would fall far short of knocking him off. Quote, "the question in this race is how large Cantor's margin of victory would be." By the evening the Post was calling Cantor's defeat by David Brat a shocking and stunning upset. We just heard some of those words. We looked for television pundits talking about Cantor's primary in advance, but we didn't find much, just a couple of brief mentions on MSNBC. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: Brat tells the National Review he is going to run a primary campaign against Cantor because Cantor voted for the Murray-Ryan budget deal, and because when it comes to repealing the Affordable Care Act, quote, he hasn't moved the ball down the field at all.


KURTZ: Even on primary day, it was clear virtually no one saw the Cantor collapse coming.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Other races to watch, in Virginia, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor facing a long-shot Tea Party challenger, an economics professor, his name is Dave Brat.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: What do we know about Dave Brat? Who is Dave Brat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a great question. We don't know very much about him.


KURTZ: Because nobody bothered to cover the guy. How did political journalists blow this race so badly? Joining us now, Lauren Ashburn, a former USA Today executive who hosts "Social Buzz" on the Fox website. Mary Katherine Ham, editor at large at Hot Air, and Kirsten Powers, columnist for USA Today, all Fox News contributors.

Is it an embarrassment for the professional pundit class that almost nobody talked about or reported on this race?

LAUREN ASHBURN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Everybody was caught flat- footed on this. And I think it's just because of the reason you said. Nobody bothered to do some shoe leather reporting, get down there, talk to the voters, see what they had to say. MSNBC had a few mentions, CNN nothing, Fox nothing, virtually nothing on all of these, New York Times nothing. And my favorite is Politico. Politico wrote, while Brat has little chance of upsetting Cantor, his campaign making life a little tougher for him. Here is the money quote. "Cantor, who will almost certainly become the next speaker of the House."

KURTZ: How is that looking this morning? It's not that we should be able to predict every race with certainty, but most of the TV reporters had already gone home, it wasn't on the media radar.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. I also want to take my blame on this, too, since I am of the pundit class. But I do think there's a tendency with the Tea Party especially to see it very black and white. The early primary season convinced everybody, well, it's dead. The Tea Party is either dead or resurgent and ruining the republic. There seems to be no middle ground. And now maybe we can Google a bunch of these primary candidates and find a middle ground in reporting on them.

KURTZ: Is this in part, Kirsten, because most reporters take their cues from the political establishment, which didn't see this coming? And there were no media polls. We love to have polls to tell us who's in trouble. No polls, somebody must not be in trouble.

KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, typically, there would be a poll that would show you, or if a poll didn't, you'd be getting -- you'd be hearing something. Something would be bubbling up, somebody else in the district would be saying something's off. They would be telling the reporters that. And maybe they were telling the reporters that and they were dismissing it. I think Mary Katharine hit on it, it became this media narrative about the Tea Party, which I never bought. Even when I pushed back against it, I was treated like I was crazy, which is the Tea Party is dead. And it never made sense, which when you think about it, the two people who really get the most attention right now in the Republican Party are Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. The Tea Party obviously wasn't dead.

KURTZ: Definitely, we won't treat you like you're crazy this morning.

POWERS: But it was something frankly that Republicans -- it's a story line Republicans like, the establishment liked. It's what they were pushing. They wanted the Tea Party to be dead and they wanted the establishment to be alive.

KURTZ: You mentioned talking to voters. A New York Times reporter knocked on doors and found out there was a lot of antipathy toward Eric Cantor. After the election. I know this is going to make me sound hopelessly old fashioned, but the idea of going out and door knocking in a race, is that just out of vogue?

ASHBURN: You can't just blame reporters on this.

KURTZ: Try me.

ASHBURN: Okay. All right. Blame whoever you want. But I think there's also a corporate responsibility here. A lot of travel budget has been cut. The newspaper industry and the magazine industry isn't as vibrant as it used to be. Everybody is sort of managing decline right now. So I think that when you cut those budgets, you're going to see something like you saw with Trayvon Martin in Florida, the young man who was killed. And we didn't even know about that for about a week because the local paper closed its bureau there.

KURTZ: And Orlando had just a few paragraphs on it. We got Laura Ingraham coming up behind you. She and Mark Levin, a couple of others, trumpeted Dave Brat on the radio, and this is being kind of hailed as a talk radio victory.

HAM: Let me assist you in blaming reporters on this by saying just that Virginia 7 is about 65, 70 miles from here. So not a ton of budget needed to get down there and cover it.

KURTZ: A gallon of gas.

HAM: When it comes to the national media reporting on the Tea Party, I think it is a very diffuse movement. Sometimes there are great candidates, sometimes there are wild card candidates that don't work.

KURTZ: Brat didn't have the backing of the national Tea Party groups.

HAM: Exactly. That's a key point here. It's just tough to know who is going to come out swinging and win. There's not a lot of action put into trying to figure that out with the Tea Party. A lot of dismissing going on.

KURTZ: The morning after the primary, Dave Brat talked by phone with Chuck Todd of MSNBC, and he said he wouldn't say that he agreed there shouldn't be any federal minimum wage at all, and he also could not answer the question about arming the rebels in Syria. He said he wasn't ready, and since then, no more interviews, at least for now. I wonder if the media had covered this race, whether media scrutiny might have made it more difficult for Dave Brat to pull off this upset because he didn't really have to answer reporters' questions?

POWERS: I think that's definitely true, though I would cut him a little slack. It's not -- sometimes we expect people to know more than they might know until they're actually in office.

KURTZ: Sure. He's a college professor who was running a shoestring campaign with a 23-year-old campaign manager.

ASHBURN: Everybody did say he was good looking.

POWERS: As many people --

KURTZ: Is that missing from this debate?


KURTZ: Thank you for elevating it.


POWERS: Plenty of these people have come in and then had great careers. He could still have a great career, even though he doesn't know whether he wants to arm the Syrian rebels at this point. Probably not.

KURTZ: A lot of people don't know.


KURTZ: Is there some danger now that there's an overreaction and the pundits who did not see this coming are over-interpreting what might be nothing more than Eric Cantor grew out of touch with his district and ran a lousy campaign?

ASHBURN: Of course. It was wonderful to watch that night, in addition to the shocking and the stunning, the shocking and the stunning, which we couldn't seemed to find any other adjectives in the media to cover this, but it was also the Tea Party will dominate the 2016 elections. You had people saying the compromise is dead in Washington. Well, it's been dead for a long time. Everybody was trying to make this a lot bigger than it was.

KURTZ: Of course message on immigration. (inaudible) the immigration reform is dead. A little bit of hyperventilation here?

HAM: I think that's probably going to be the case. Like I said, there's a lot of googling going on, a lot of primary candidates right now. I think the media, especially in Washington, politically wants a quick answer and a simple answer. The Tea Party does not give that to them. So I think they might continue to misread this.

KURTZ: So take another minute to explain why that's a problem then. Because most journalists can't figure out the Tea Party movement, which is, not, after all, it's not an organized political party with nominations. It is a movement.

HAM: I think a little bit of hyperventilation might help with that because there will be some shoe leather spent on these guys. There will be some time spent asking them questions and figuring out certain races that maybe weren't going to be at issue before. But I also think, yes, there was some political perfect storm here. We do need to be wary of that.

POWERS: I don't think the mainstream media is capable of understanding the Tea Party, I mean based on what I've watched. I think -- I forget which "New York Times" reporter wrote a book about the Tea Party, that was actually very good. And "The New York Times" is not a friend of the Tea Party as far as I can tell. And everything that she wrote about the Tea Party does not comport with the story line that we constantly get. Which is they're racist idiots.


POWERS: You know, because I think it's the elites who can't relate. They want them just to be a bunch of bigots who, you know, hate Barack Obama and are driven by their racist hatred of, you know, of Barack Obama.

KURTZ: But journalists -- why would journalists want this?

POWERS: Well, I don't -- actually, I can't say what motivates them in terms of their wants. I can just say that the end result, that's the end result of how they behave, of how they portray them.

KURTZ: Do you agree with that?

HAM: I do think that's the case. And Chris Matthews of all people urged his colleagues this week on MSNBC to say, look, stop condescending to these folks. This is a real movement. And if you have got to understand them, you have to spend some time understanding and stop sort of flagging them.

ASHBURN: And that's one of the good things that actually has come out of this, is that because the reporters weren't there and weren't covering it on the ground, I think you'll see a lot more reporters heading to these districts where races have Tea Party candidates.

KURTZ: I hope you are right. The other thing is that, if you don't find sweeping national implications to a race like this, then it's just 36,000 voters voting for a guy in the 7 District of Virginia. That's hard to sustain. What do you think of our candid coverage this morning? Send us a tweet at Howard Kurtz. We'll read some of yours in our "Your Buzz" segment.

Ahead, Laura Ingraham on using her radio show to help knock off Eric Cantor.

But first, Hillary hits the airwaves as she launches her campaign -- excuse me, her book tour.


KURTZ: It wasn't quite a campaign kickoff, but far more than a book tour when Hillary Clinton sat down with Diane Sawyer, it was the first chance to cross-examine the Democratic front-runner for 2016.


DIANE SAWYER, ABC CORRESPONDENT: Monica Lewinsky. Is back in the news. Did you call her a narcissistic looney tune?

CLINTON: I am not going to comment on what I did or did not say back in the late '90s.

SAWYER: Would you say that's right wing conspiracy again? It's been reported you've made 5 million making speeches. The president made more than $100 million.

CLINTON: Well, if you -- you have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea's education.

SAWYER: Do you think Americans are going to understand five times the median income in this country for one speech?


KURTZ: You know, someone on the right had predicted the liberal media would roll over Hillary in these interviews. Diane sawyer and the others asked about Benghazi. They asked about her finances, that we just heard. How would you evaluate a media ...

HAM: Yeah. I applaud it. And I'd like to see more of it. No, I think that here's the thing, these questions were -- you could anticipate them. I think they were things she should have had good answers for. And had she had better answers for them out of the gate, and by the way, there's plenty of blue prints for answering questions about your wealth or Benghazi or any of this. But apparently she didn't study before she went on. I think had she had a solid answer first time out she wouldn't have gotten pushed so much on them.

KURTZ: Were the media right -- and I was part of this to pounce on Hillary Clinton over that dead rope answer? Was it a really serious misstep or gaffe on her part?

POWERS: I thought it was -- yeah, I thought it was a very serious misstep. Because it showed her to be out of touch. And, of course, that was the big thing that everybody said correctly about Mitt Romney. I mean actually it really is a problem. It's not something ...

KURTZ: Here's a woman who's peddling an $8 million blog, and makes the million dollar in speeches. And she's talking about that -- she had such a bleak future.

POWERS: Well, and -- yeah, dead broke implies that you are, you know, sleeping on your friend's sofa, right? It doesn't imply that you're getting a loan from a friend for $1.7 million to buy a house. Do you know what I mean?

KURTZ: Or one of the two houses?

POWERS: Yeah, yeah, so I mean it's not, you know, because and the reason you're getting that loan is because you know that you're about to rake in the multimillion dollars.

KURTZ: Zillions.



POWERS: Yes. Yes. So, I think that it was -- it just showed her to be very out of touch.

KURTZ: And Diane Sawyer had two hours -- one for that one-hour prime time special. She was the first who got the most tension -- How did Diane Sawyer do?

ASHBURN: I thought that she was as Mary Katherine said, very good. She pressed her on age, wealth, health, Benghazi. And she really didn't let it go. She came back to her when Hillary would not fully answer a question and followed up.

KURTZ: But she never seems like -- she doesn't act like a prosecutor, doesn't seem like she's badgering the witness.

ASHBURN: No, because I think what she does, it's brilliant. Is that she lulled her into this sort of sense of complacency, which is when the dead broke comment came out. Because it seems like you're talking to maybe a woman of your own age, which is exactly was the best zinger, I think, of the whole thing, where Hillary said, well, Diane, you know, isn't it great to be our age.


KURTZ: Enough with this age question.


KURTZ: But the thing that got the most attention late in the week was Hillary Clinton's interview with National Public Radio's Terry Gross in which she was pressed repeatedly on changing her position from the 1990s about same-sex marriage. She had been opposed, now she's strongly in favor. Take a listen to some of that.


TERRY GROSS: So, that's one for you changed your mind?

CLINTON: I really -- I have to say, I think you are being very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue.

GROSS: I'm just trying to clarify so I could understand ...

CLINTON: No, I don't think you are trying to clarify. I think you're trying to say that, you know, I used to be opposed, and now I'm in favor and I did it for political reasons.


KURTZ: Was that as testy and defensive as it sounded to me?

HAM: It was pretty defensive, and I think part of her issue is this stylistic difference between her and Terry Gross and her -- Diane Sawyer. Both Terry Gross and Diane Sawyer are very composed. I'm like -- I'm just speed balling. Hey, let me ask you about this. She's very calm, and this is something we've talked about in the past on the show. It's her contentious relationship with the media. She's clearly not giving calm and sort of friendly answers here. I think she could have prepared for them.

POWERS: That was completely out of line in that interview. So, absolutely, I just thought ...

KURTZ: Why so?

POWERS: I have never seen someone of her stature treated that way. OK, so the way she would not drop -- she kept asking this question over and over again.

Look, I have always supported gay marriage. I literally cannot remember time when I didn't. But I will cut Hillary Clinton a little slack considering that she and the rest of the country didn't. So, why is Hillary Clinton being raked over the coals like this?

ASHBURN: No, no, no. They've never--

POWERS: Name another person who's raked over the coals on that issue.

ASHBURN: If you go back to 2008 and when Barack Obama was given a completely free pass and journalists were not digging in like this, Terry Gross, actually, I think should be commended. And she's from ...

POWERS: She (INAUDIBLE) Barack Obama?

ASHBURN: She ...

POWERS: That's my point. You're not getting my point, though. My point is if you're going to do it -- Yes, do I wish that they did this to everybody?


POWERS: Yes. Absolutely. But they don't. So, why was she doing it to Hillary?

HAM: Here's where I think the Clinton camp has a point, is that, yes, they did not do this to Barack Obama. And I don't blame them for being back there, they are going like, why did no one ever do this to him? But you have to anticipate that media environment she's going to get, just as if you're a Republican candidate going into a hostile media ...


HAM: Be ready.

POWERS: The thing, that why did Hillary used to not support gay marriage when nobody supported gay marriage? I mean, grow up.

ASHBURN: But she also has to learn not to be so defensive. If she could have just given a softer answer, I think Terry Gross would have moved on.

POWERS: She was on -- she was being bad.


KURTZ: It was NPR, which is not exactly hostile territory. Usually, at least. Kirsten Powers, Mary Katharine Ham, thanks very much for coming by.

Up next, did Laura Ingraham step outside her commentator's roll endorsing Eric Cantor's opponent? And later, (INAUDIBLE). He would handle Hillary when she appears on Fox this coming week.


KURTZ: As the national media largely ignored Eric Cantor's primary battle, a couple of conservative radio hosts took up the cause of long shot challenger Dave Brat. Laura Ingraham even went to Richmond on his behalf.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham was in (INAUDIBLE) last night at a rally for Dave Brat. Brat is taking on one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress, incumbent Eric Cantor.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: If my voice can lead anyone to think again about this race, it will be a positive thing.


KURTZ: I sat down with the Fox News contributor here in studio one.

Laura Ingraham, welcome.

INGRAHAM: Good to see you.

KURTZ: David Brat got almost no national media coverage. You started putting him on the radio and you became his champion against Eric Cantor. Why?

INGRAHAM: Well, I saw something in him that was hopeful, truthful, a lot of courage, a lot of bold thinking. He dared to take on the giant, right? And he was sort of the only credible challenger out there to Cantor. And I thought look, you can take down the giant. And Cantor is a giant of -- an immigration reform terms, and he's obviously the House majority leader.

KURTZ: Right.

INGRAHAM: You could really change the shape of the debate in American politics. And I thought, look, I think we're losing our country. Our country is in a lot of trouble. So, if you can send a message to the establishment, oh, no you won't keep doing what you're doing.

KURTZ: The message might have been received, but you've been a conservative talk show host for a long time.

INGRAHAM: Yeah, right.

KURTZ: Everybody knows where you stand.


KURTZ: When you go down to Richmond and speak at a rally of a Republican candidate, does that make you more of a political activist?

INGRAHAM: Well, I'm a concerned American. And I'm a commentator, and I've never paint myself as someone who's, you know, I'm not an objective reporter. And I'm someone who's been out there since I worked for President Reagan in 1987. And I've been kind of in the trenches since I was at Dartmouth, for goodness sake, as editor of the "Dartmouth Review." So, I've been out there fighting this fight, I think our country is really at a tipping point. And that culturally, spiritually, economically, and I think the realignment in politics has to come from the people. This race didn't come from me. It came from the disaffected people in the state.

KURTZ: The coverage was suggesting you were driving this primary election.

INGRAHAM: I think I helped give him a little bit more of a platform. And I think, again, the national media, heck, the local media, I think did a very, for the most part, a very poor job of covering this race.


INGRAHAM: Kind of get ...

KURTZ: Covering is generous. Because there was so little attention to the fact that he even could be a competitor in this race.


KURTZ: So, did that make your voice louder because ....

INGRAHAM: Well, it is- it's one of the reasons ...

KURTZ: And we are not just blowing it off?

INGRAHAM: It's one of the reasons I went down. Number one, the press was asleep at the wheel or purposely not covering the race.

KURTZ: Purposely not covering the race? Because.

INGRAHAM: I think, well, I think a lot of people in the press are pro-amnesty. They like the fact that if Cantor was re-elected it would be a signal that they could move forward to comprehensive immigration reform. And Eric Cantor is kind of a kinder, gentler Republican. He's not one of those icky, you know, Tea Party types. So they would ...

KURTZ: Why didn't they put a conservative Republican?

INGRAHAM: I think on a whole host of issues he didn't measure up. If he did he would have been re-elected. He was for T.A.R.P. and I think he is on Ryan-Murray budget deal, and Medicare Part D, and now for the last two years, he's been known as the guy who wants to do the DREAM Act and amnesty. That didn't sit well with people.

KURTZ: So have other candidates asked for your help?


KURTZ: Are you going to be like Sarah Palin, are you going to endorse this candidate and this candidate and this candidate?

INGRAHAM: A lot. I'm taking it all under advisement. I want to be very serious about this. And there are a lot of great people out there running. Every race is different, Howie. I just want people to understand this. When we see the establishment in both parties fail the working class people of this country year after year with their standard of living either going like this or for many people, going like this --

KURTZ: You're usually taking on Democrats. Here you are taking on who was one of the most powerful Republicans.

INGRAHAM: Both are equally culpable on some issues. And the immigration issue is an abominable thing they've done to the people in this country and the legal immigrants. And I wanted to try to give someone a voice who had a really powerful -- and ultimately very uplifting message about the American dream. That was Dave Brat.

KURTZ: Finally, there was a National Review headline about this race, "Ingraham's Insurrection." Are you now leading the crusade against the Beltway Republican establishment?

INGRAHAM: For the renewal of America.

KURTZ: That sounds like a bumper sticker.

INGRAHAM: I think it's slipping away for a lot of Americans. In this studio, in beautiful Washington, D.C., the elites are not really affected like the rest of the country is. But most Americans--

KURTZ: But is it worth to you as a conservative to take on a substantial part of the Republican Party?

INGRAHAM: I haven't been very popular in this town since I became critical of the Bush establishment in the final few years of the Bush administration. It's not personal. I like the Bushes as people. I like John Boehner. I think he's a wonderful person. I think Paul Ryan is a great guy. I think they're wrong on this issue, and I think they are hurting themselves and they are hurting their constituents. I'm just one person. I'll be as involved as much as I can.

KURTZ: I think we'll be hearing more from this one person, Laura Ingraham.

INGRAHAM: Good to see you, Howard.

KURTZ: Thanks very much.

Ahead on "MediaBuzz," CNN is running a documentary on George Bush 41 with funding that really crosses a line. We'll tell you why.

But first, Brit Hume, on covering the chaos in Iraq after years of journalistic war fatigue.



KURTZ: Iraq has forced its way back onto our television screens as terrorists are seizing major cities and marching toward Baghdad, the country in utter chaos. Joining us now to examine how the media are framing this story is Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume.

Why did the coverage of the Iraq war all but vanish in recent years?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: One reason is, this was a war that was thought to be George Bush's war. And it was also thought to have been concluded, even though we were in the process of withdrawing. There wasn't a lot of violence on the ground.

KURTZ: Weren't the journalists tired of it and wasn't there a perception that the public was tired of this?

HUME: Yes. And moreover, this was -- there was no sense that this place was about to disintegrate. And when the troops come home and there's no real news to report, news organizations who are looking at, you know, budgets are not going to keep bureaus open in places where there's no war. So the story looked, in the eyes of a lot of people, to be over. There are exceptions to that. Dexter Filkins in particular writing in the New Yorker has kept on top of the story and some others have as well, but not many. And so the decision was made to bail out of there. All hell was breaking loose in other parts of the Mideast. And Iraq was seen as one of the places where --

KURTZ: Relatively stable. And that's why I think this news has been doubly shocking. It had almost completely vanished from the media radar. But now we see the pundits almost sort of degenerating to the same old arguments. This is all Bush's fault because of the invasion in the first place. No, it's Obama's fault for not leaving a residual force there and not cutting a better deal. Are you getting a sense of deja vu?

HUME: Yes. But look, I think it's -- there's a broader question here and a deeper question here, which has to do with America's role in the world. And you know, we've had these interventions in various places, and some of them had gone badly. Vietnam went badly. In the view of most people now, Iraq, even though it appeared to have been concluded more or less successfully, by the time President Bush left office, came to be viewed in the aftermath, not least because the president kept acting as if it were as a failure.

KURTZ: As not worth--


HUME: So then you have the series of eruptions in different places around the world and in particular in the Middle East, and decisions are made not to send American forces, not to get too deeply involved, and once that decision is made, of course, you have a coverage decision that's made as well.


HUME: How to cover the civil war in Syria. Very difficult. Extremely dangerous.

KURTZ: Exactly.

HUME: There's no host government there that's going to make sure that the media are taken care of or at least have a place to report from. Very difficult, very tough. Then of course what we have is the spread of that Syria conflict into Iraq now. That's just a spillover effect. And you know, I think that now we're all looking at it and think my God, the Middle East is on fire.

KURTZ: Right. Let me switch gears now because Hillary Clinton, we talked earlier in the program, she's going to be on Fox News Tuesday with Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren. If you were interviewing her, is it more difficult with a newsmaker when you're doing the third or the fourth or the sixth interview in a sequence?

HUME: I think if somebody asked me to do this interview, I'd try to get somebody else to do it.

KURTZ: You'd bail out?

HUME: Here's the reason. Interviews are difficult anyway. The interviewee is really in charge. And if the interviewee wants to play and be forthcoming and be interesting, that can happen.

KURTZ: What if you interrupt and what if you press?

HUME: There you go. The problem with that is, of course, you have got a person of some standing, and Hillary Clinton is the former secretary of state, perhaps the leading figure at this moment in the Democratic Party, former first lady, is entitled properly, I think, to a measure of respect, which gets you into the problem that you have. Such people tend to filibuster when it's in their interest to do so. Interrupting is something that has to be done very carefully and very politely. Hard to do.

KURTZ: Excuse me for interrupting. What happens if it's done excessively?

HUME: Then what happens is, you, the interviewer become the story. You become the most conspicuous thing that's in the interview.

KURTZ: He was being rude. Why did he cut her off?

HUME: You don't want that. There are times you must do it and you must try, because the person isn't answering the questions. Nobody does this better than Chris Wallace. But that's on his show, and it's his setting, and he's clearly the host and the ring master. When you sit down in a hotel room or somewhere else with Hillary Clinton or a studio somewhere, it's not the same. And it's very difficult.

KURTZ: Our clock is winding down. Final question, is Bret and Greta will have a half hour live with the former secretary of state. Does the clock work against you in that situation?

HUME: A half hour is not bad. And the other thing they have is, sometimes it's better not to be first because you know what many of the answers are and you can think of questions formulated to try to get past the talking points. So it's a disadvantage in one sense that you're not first, but it can be an advantage in terms of strategizing if you will for the interview.

KURTZ: You know what the pre-programmed sound bites are. Brit Hume, thanks very much for joining us today.

Ahead we'll tell you who is the most trusted name in news.

But after the break, how did saturation coverage of O.J. 20 years ago transform today's media?


KURTZ: It was a moment that riveted the country. Football star O.J. Simpson, suspected in the murder of his ex-wife and her friend, taking off in his white Bronco. The cops in pursuit. The cameras rolling. How did that moment change the media? Joining us now for the Z Block is David Zurawik, television and media critic for the Baltimore Sun. So that moment and CNN televising the trial day after day, what impact did that have on the profession?

DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN: You know, I think the main thing it did, is it put the elements of tabloid, the elements of Court TV, elements of reality TV were all there. People acted like this show invented it. No, it didn't invent it. You had "The Real World" on MTV in 1992 before this ever happened. But this was a massive jolt of steroids, and it was so successful, Howie, that it changed the way programmers looked at it. They thought, we don't have to have a war to keep people riveted 24 hours.

KURTZ: Nor did it turn out you had to have a famous defendant like O.J., because as cable turned into more of a soap opera, we could make people famous, Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias, missing women, Natalee Holloway, and so I wonder if that's part of the legacy of the OJ case.

ZURAWIK: Howie, yes, and this is counter-intuitive, but I actually think OJ case made us smarter, the media and the audience. It taught us that shows can be about larger issues. You don't have to have celebrities. O.j. himself, really it was about a racial drama, with 200 years of racial history and stereotypes and tropes going on. We came to understand that normal people could represent larger things in the American psyche. And that's what really made us smart. I also think we got much smarter about race.

KURTZ: Let me turn to a column you wrote the other day, about a documentary, a two-hour documentary CNN is airing tonight on the life of George H.W. Bush. Let's take a quick look at an excerpt.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I, George Herbert Walker Bush, do solemnly swear.

GEORGE W. BUSH: George Bush took himself lightly and took his responsibilities to help his fellow man seriously. He's a man of enormous love.


KURTZ: You ripped CNN's decision to run this. Why?

ZURAWIK: I do. First of all, let me say, there's much to respect about the 41st president of the United States.

KURTZ: He jumped out of an airplane at the age of 90.

ZURAWIK: Listen, but this is not what a news channel should be showing. This is hageography, this is like Parson Weems (ph) and George Washington, I cannot tell a lie. There's nothing balanced about a real human being. This is a pure celebration.

KURTZ: But it's because of the funding.

ZURAWIK: And it's funded. Yes. Thank you. You beat me to the punch. It's funded by the Bush library, Howie, which is outrageous that a news channel is showing something funded by the library for Bush, and calling it a documentary. That's the outrageous thing. CNN, their "Chicagoland" documentary did the same thing, the thing with Rahm Emanuel, it debases the notion of a documentary.

KURTZ: But you also have a former Bush White House speechwriter as the producer on the show.

ZURAWIK: As the producer of it!

KURTZ: And George H.W. Bush -- again, not to denigrate him in any way, but you know, approved the project, approved those interviews.

ZURAWIK: Yes, approved all the interviews. Think of it!

KURTZ: You asked CNN for a response.

ZURAWIK: And they were like, what's your problem? You know, that was it. It was like, Zurawik, you're being weird. What's the problem with this thing? When we wrote about it, a lot of other people had a problem. And I'm glad we did. But it shows how far we've gone down the road of not doing news. Howie, this is everybody's history, this is our history. His history once he becomes a national figure is our history. You don't let them rewrite it that way.

KURTZ: CNN has certainly been up front about disclosing the funding.

ZURAWIK: That's true.

KURTZ: (inaudible). Finally, a lot of talk about NBC, according to Politico, paying part-time correspondent Chelsea Clinton $600,000. Your thoughts?

ZURAWIK: Did I not say NBC News was journalistically bankrupt when they hired her? Did I not review every single report she did? There were only a handful of them. She made about $100,000 a report. More than that. Probably $500,000. I think it's outrageous. I think it sends an outrageous message to the hard-working journalists at a place like NBC News.

I could not understand why they did this. Why they hired her. And Howie, to boot, she was terrible. But you know what the president of NBC News said at the time, it's as if she's been preparing her whole life for this job. That's true. It has not been a life well spent in journalism.

KURTZ: Don't hold back next time.

David Zurawik. Coming up, an NBC anchor goes to the hospital and pretends he's having a baby. Yes, it's kind of weird.

And a female reporter deals with an obscene bystander. Our "Video Verdict" is straight ahead.


KURTZ: Time now for our "Video Verdict." The Today Show's Savannah Guthrie is pregnant, and of course morning shows love to appeal to the moms out there.

ASHBURN: So rather than just bring on a baby expert, Willie Geist was drafted to go to the hospital, well, for a very unusual segment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I just happen to know someone who is about to be a dad, my husband Mike.

WILLIE GEIST: So for educational purposes I will be the mother in this scenario.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Grab a leg, dad, since she will be screaming at you and just yes her to death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, doing great, honey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Always want to support the baby's neck and it would be easier if you lift the bottom than the top. At this point, the baby will be peeing on you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't he or she beautiful?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So beautiful. Looks a lot like you.


ASHBURN: Can I just unsee that with him in the stirrups? That was just so disgusting.

KURTZ: Wait a minute. You didn't find this segment educational?

ASHBURN: Oh, come on. I want to get my parenting advice from Willie Geist? Seriously?

KURTZ: Dad on this Father's Day.

ASHBURN: He is also hocking a book so there's a reason for this segment.

KURTZ: All right, it was a little creepy, but the "Today Show" is trying to play up--

ASHBURN: Creepy. Creepy.

KURTZ: OK, creepy. "Today Show" is trying to play up Savannah Guthrie who is an expecting mom and appeal to the female audience.

ASHBURN: Yes, well, do it with a mother. I give it a 3.

KURTZ: It was funny. I'll give you a 6.

ASHBURN: No thank you.

Well, for local TV reporters, doing live shots on the street is a very routine exercise, except when it's not.

KURTZ: As (inaudible) Christina Pascucci (ph) found when she was reporting on a gay pride celebration in Los Angeles.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have only had a couple of arrests related to people who were drinking a little bit too much.

Live in West Palm Beach.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa. I'm sorry. (inaudible). Back to you guys.


KURTZ: Okay. Anything like that ever happen to you?

ASHBURN: No, no, no, absolutely not. But you never know what's going to happen on a live shot. You never know. I remember standing on I-95 and the cars are whizzing behind me and I'm thinking my gosh, I could get killed right now. They are like a foot away from me.

KURTZ: So you always have to be prepared for somebody breaking into your scene there. It sounded like he was trying to pick her up.

ASHBURN: And I love that she didn't know what to do. She thought, oh my gosh, all I have to do is get out of here as soon as possible. Like she kept turning so the camera would turn and follow her and get away from those guys.

KURTZ: She maintained her composure, but I think she should have kneed that guy in the groin.

ASHBURN: I remember the Weather Channel guy did that.

I'll give her an 8.

KURTZ: I'll give her a 7. Unintentionally good TV.

Still to come, your tweets and America's most trusted news anchors include Jon Stewart?


KURTZ: Here are your top tweets on why the media ignored Eric Cantor's race until the congressman was beaten by a virtual unknown. Tom Claycomb. "One, Beltway insularity. Check. Two, short attention span. Check. Three, antipathy toward talk radio noise." Bob Davidson, "Better question: Why should I listen to analysis by all the people who missed it?"

Steve says, "Easy, they had written off the Tea Party and they, as well as Cantor, were buying the polls," although there were no public media polls.

Chimezie, "Same reason. All U.S. media drink from the same fountain and don't cover or report news anymore. Rather, they just chase ratings."

ASHBURN: Just like 20 years ago when they chased that Bronco. It just does not change.

KURTZ: Although it would have been good ratings if anybody knew Cantor was in trouble, but since nobody covered the race.

ASHBURN: Nobody knew.

KURTZ: Called cluelessness. Finally some good news for Jon Stewart and bad news for MSNBC. In a new survey by the left-leaning Brookings Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute, 25 percent say Fox News is the most trusted name in news. By the way, Fox leads not just amongst conservatives, but among independents as well. 23 percent picked broadcast news, 17 percent CNN, and 12 percent public TV. 8 percent picked "The Daily Show," and trailing Jon Stewart, 5 percent say the most trusted is MSNBC.

ASHBURN: Okay. Bad for MSNBC, great for Fox, right, but I think that they have a point. Jon Stewart has to set up the news in order to snark about it, and so you do learn something.

KURTZ: I think it goes beyond that. It's interesting that "The Daily Show" rated relatively high, 8 percent of the people, and that is it seems to me that people like the fact that he kind of cuts through the spin and the BS.

ASHBURN: They like to laugh.

KURTZ: OK. It's very funny.

ASHBURN: It's very funny. But you learn while laughing, and I think that's something that is usually missing. I want to say happy Father's Day to my day, Warren Ashburn, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I love you very much.

KURTZ: Happy Father's day to you, Warren. Happy Father's Day to everyone else.

But I still want to talk about Jon Stewart. We have more time. Nobody gave you a wrap.


KURTZ: Oh, OK. That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Give us a like for our Facebook page where we post after the buzz and your buzz videos. We're back here next Sunday morning at 11 and 5 Eastern with the latest buzz.

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