Hillary vs. the network anchors

Was Fox News fair to Clinton?


This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," June 22, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST:  On the buzz meter this Sunday, Hillary Clinton faces off with two Fox anchors, and we'll talk to Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren about their strategy for the sit-down.  


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS:  Did you talk to Secretary Panetta that night?  

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE:  I talked with Director Petraeus.  My own assessment careened from the video had something to do with it, the video had nothing to do with it.  

BAIER:  Did you talk about the video with President Obama?  


KURTZ:  But some conservatives are criticizing the interview as too soft.   While liberal pundits say there was too much focus on Benghazi.  Who is right?  

As the White House weighs military action in Iraq, a media debate over who is entitled to debate the war.  


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC:  Hey, Sunday shows, hey, op-ed pages, hey, cable news, hey, everybody, we know you are tempted to keep booking these yahoos on this subject, but if you keep turning to the people who were famously wrong about Iraq to ask them what to do about Iraq, you at least will be laughed at and you will be embarrassed that you did this, and you will eventually have to apologize.  


KURTZ:  Should television really sideline the cheerleaders for George W. Bush's invasion?  Or does that deflect attention from President Obama's withdrawal?  And how is the press covering the current chaos?  

Plus, a new twist in the Washington Redskins furor as some pundits and publications are just refusing to mention the team's name.  

I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

Hillary Clinton made two cable news stops on her book/campaign tour this week, first with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.  


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN:  Are your competitive juices flowing for the chance to be the first female president of the United States of America?  

CLINTON:  You can see why she's an experienced journalist.  


KURTZ:  Then it was here at this anchor desk, in this studio as the former secretary of state sat down for half an hour with Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS:  Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, very upset that we were bugging her phone.  Should she be?  

CLINTON:  Yes.  She should be.  That was absolutely uncalled for.  

VAN SUSTEREN:  At one point you write the Obama campaign after John McCain selected Sarah Palin, that they called you and wanted you to issue something that was dismissive of her, and you said no.  

CLINTON:  That's right.  I did.  I do believe sexism is still a problem.   It's not just in politics, it's in journalism and business and all kinds of human endeavors in our country.  


KURTZ:  But Bret's decision to spend a good chunk of his time on Benghazi drew flack from some anchors at MSNBC.  


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC:  And to the surprise of no one who has watched Fox over the last two years, the first, count them, eight questions, eight questions were about Benghazi.  

ARI MELBER, MSNBC:  Bret Baier asked 15 total, 12 strictly were about Benghazi.  

If the Fox professionals who cooked up this obsession can't lay a glove on Clinton, how good is that committee going to be?  


KURTZ:  Was Fox fair to Hillary?  And its coverage of the capture of a key suspect in those Benghazi attacks?  Joining us now, Lauren Ashburn, a Fox News contributor and former USA Today executive who hosts "Social Buzz" on the Fox website.  Rick Grenell, Fox News contributor and former spokesman in the Bush administration.  And Craig Crawford, founder of the Trail Mix blog and a former columnist for CQ.  

So it seems like Bret and Greta and Fox are getting it from both sides, too hard or too soft in the interview.  

LAUREN ASHBURN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  And the most surprising was the negative reaction from conservatives who were going after both of them, both after Bret and after Greta.  We have some people who wrote into our Facebook page, Mackenzy Mark (ph) said "the interviews with Hillary were a joke.  Softball.  This is why I no longer watch Fox News."  "I couldn't agree with you more," said David Nathan Vigor (ph).  "Fox has traded boxing gloves for mittens."  And Carol Zedoc (ph) said, "I thought it was soft, it made her look good.  Very disappointed."

KURTZ:  Let's put on our boxing gloves.  

ASHBURN:  I got a big advantage here, Kurtz.  

KURTZ:  So most critics thought it was a very solid and substantive interview, why so many complaints from the right?  

ASHBURN:  I think there are a lot of Hillary haters out there who wouldn't be happy unless she was waterboarded by interviewers.  

KURTZ:  Some headlines said that Bret Baier hammered Hillary Clinton on Benghazi.  Is that a fair characterization?  

RICK GRENELL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, look, the fact of the matter is Hillary didn't answer the questions.  What is Bret supposed to do?  He's trying to get answers.  We have a woman who looks at the camera and absolutely just says whatever she wants.  It's not based on fact or reality.  She skirts all the issues.  

KURTZ:  You don't think she answered any of those Benghazi questions?  

GRENELL:  No.  There are so many questions that are lingering.  And she does a very good job because she is a 20-plus year politician.  If you like politicians, you love Hillary Clinton.  She is Washington, D.C. incarnate.  

KURTZ:  The decision to focus a good bit of time on Benghazi, was that somehow unfair or out of bounds?  

CRAIG CRAWFORD, PUBLISHER, TRAIL MIX:  Not at all.  The questions were fair.  The problem, as you say, was he didn't argue with her and call her names, which people are so used to, so therefore they thought it was a soft interview.  It was a win-win for both.  

Now, I didn't see that she was brain damaged, Karl Rove.  I think she came across very intelligent and handled those questions quite well.  And her answer, that fog of war stuff, this is what the Clintons have always done and they're good at.  Is they explain away questions with reasonable sounding answers that average people find pretty easy to follow.  

KURTZ:  I would just note that Diane Sawyer of ABC spent several minutes on Benghazi and I didn't see people beating her up over that.  Indeed those questions needed to be asked.  What was unusual about this interview, it was this two-anchor format, two of them splitting the time.  

ASHBURN:  Right.  She was sort of ping-ponging.  She was sitting right here where Rick was and she was looking at Bret and then she was looking at Greta.  

CRAWFORD:  It was almost a debate how they divided it up.  

ASHBURN:  It was.  Right.  But I think Greta in particular had a very conversational tone.  That comes from having interviewed her all over the world, in Afghanistan, war zones.  And Greta has been around the block, as she likes to say, and has interviewed a lot of people.  But what distinguished it were the questions she asked.  She talked about sexism, which hadn't been mentioned up to that point.  She talked about Richard Holbrooke.  Nobody had asked about Richard Holbrooke.  She talked about the Marine in Mexico, which has been a cause of hers, trying to get this Marine out, and elicited a very interesting response from Hillary, which is I would have been burning up the phone lines, I would have been sending in envoys.  She gave Hillary an opportunity there to distance herself from the Obama administration.  

KURTZ:  So Rick, you don't think the amount of time Bret Baier spent on Benghazi, with very specific questions about who did you talk to, where were you that night, did you see this report, added anything to our understanding of the situation?  

GRENELL:  I think it added a little and it added the fact that she's not willing to answer questions.  She was wasn't interviewed for the (inaudible) report.  She's never answered why that is the case.  She says things like they could go anywhere and they could ask anyone.  Well, Miss Secretary, they tried to ask you and you weren't willing to sit for an interview.  No one pushed her.  

KURTZ:  So you didn't like her answer?  

GRENELL:  No.  She's not answering the questions.


CRAWFORD:  The answer she was giving makes sense to a lot of people.  It was the fog of war.  She wasn't sure whether the video caused this or not.   She said that it could have gone either way in her mind.  They were trying to find out.  They were more focused on protecting the embassy at the time, and she really wasn't part of -- and she made it clear that I think in an implicit way that she didn't agree with the argument --


KURTZ:  Let's come back to the fairness of the interview.  Because I thought that in the CNN interview and in the Fox interview, Hillary Clinton seemed a lot less defensive and even more relaxed.  


CRAWFORD:  She got better at it.  

KURTZ:  So I can tell you when she walked out of here, she seemed pretty upbeat.  So therefore, did Fox News, despite the criticism on the right and the left, treat her fairly in your view?

CRAWFORD:  I absolutely thought they treated her fairly.  They did it kind of old school, which I'd like to see more of.  By that, I mean asked factual questions, follow up with factual questions.  Don't interrupt.  Let people have their say.  She didn't talk too much, so they didn't have to interrupt her.  


CRAWFORD:  It was the kind of civil interview I'd like to see more often on more channels.  

GRENELL:  Let's also remember that this was a highly negotiated interview.   The Clinton people do not want to do Fox.  This was their one chance.  

KURTZ:  So why did they do it?  

ASHBURN:  Good for her for doing it.  

GRENELL:  They have to do one.  So you have to jam-pack everything into the one interview that you get because she's willing to do a lot more interviews on other stations, because it's easier.  

KURTZ:  One place she didn't do an interview was MSNBC, which spent a lot of time defending her.  

CRAWFORD:  I have a feeling she practiced for this a lot, too.  I'd like to know who the stand-ins were for Bret Baier and Greta.  

KURTZ:  Bob Barnett who works with her showed up here, and I'm sure (inaudible).

We'll hear from Bret and Greta a little later on the interview.  But the day of the introduce coincidentally was the day of the announcement that U.S. forces had captured Ahmed Khatallah, a chief suspect in the Benghazi attacks.  And that prompted some commentary on Fox and some pushback on other channels.  Let's take a brief look.  


PETE HEGSETH, CEO, CONCERNED VETERANS OF AMERICA:  What a great thing to announce on an interview tonight at Fox News that the perpetrators had been brought to justice.  It's all too neat and it's too cute.  I want to give - - I want to be grateful, I always want to give the benefit of doubt to our authorities, but in this case, it feels too neat.  

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC:  They have lost their minds, whether it's the president orchestrating this or Hillary Clinton somehow orchestrating this, it's so bizarre.  


KURTZ:  What do you make of some of these conspiratorial comments about the timing of the capture?  

ASHBURN:  The more outlandish the comments, the more the websites are going to say, oh, my gosh, Fox News said this and they made this point.  And it's funny, because Fox News didn't say that.  Those individual contributors said that, and that happens a lot.  It's happened to me, I'm sure it's happened to you, Rick, where they said Fox News says --

KURTZ:  As if it's the official position of the network.  

ASHBURN:  Of the network.  Right.  And it's not fair to do that.  

KURTZ:  The Washington Post found out about the arrest the day before but held the news at the request of the administration.  I guess until he was on a Navy ship or something.  But the criticism is that Fox News takes what may be as a good news story for the administration, one guy finally captured in the Benghazi attacks as a suspect, and turns it into something suspect.  

GRENELL:  Let's be very clear.  The suspect was arrested on Sunday.  The president was in Palm Springs golfing on Sunday.  They waited until Tuesday to make the announcement.  I think there's no question that they waited until the president got back to Washington to make the announcement.  

KURTZ:  Okay.  

GRENELL:  So it's not the same thing, Howie, but packaging of the news happens all the time.  And you ask reporters and networks and outlets to hold the news.  People just need to know that.  I don't think that it's always suspicious.  I think let's put that information out there that it's being packaged.  

KURTZ:  At the same time, Craig Crawford, is it legitimate for people like James Rosen, who is over at the State Department questioning officials about this, to say why did it take two years to capture Khatallah when several journalists were able to find him and sit down and interview him in that interview--

CRAWFORD:  Well, Hillary was asked about that in that interview on Fox and pointed out that, you know, they might know where he is, but they couldn't go in there and get him like in Pakistan, unless we were supposed to invade the place.  It took them a while.  But to pick up on Lauren's point, I so agree that when these crazy conspiracy-type theories are made, it discredits everything else that you want to say about it that's accurate and legitimate.  Because then the other side can just toss that out, that's the birthers talking or something.  

KURTZ:  Let's get a break right here.  Remember to send me a tweet about our show at this hour.  @howardkurtz.  We're going to read your best tweets at the end of the program.  Ahead, Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren weigh in on how they approached the Hillary interview.  But first, from Dick Cheney to Bill Kristol, some liberal pundits want to hoot the pro-war advocates off the public stage.  We'll debate that, next.  


KURTZ:  As the media debate about what to do about the terrorists who have seized major cities in Iraq, the airwaves have been filled with pundits who were cheerleaders for the U.S. invasion, along with such Bush administration figures as Dick Cheney, Paul Bremer and Paul Wolfowitz.  And not everyone wants to hear from them.  


JON STEWART, HOST, DAILY SHOW:  Those idiots were ostracized, never heard from again because of how -- I'm kidding.  And in this current crisis, the news media has rushed to get the band back together again.


KURTZ:  Some anchors have been giving the pro war pundits and former Bush officials a very hard time.  


CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST:  Apologies would be in order at this point from the neoconservatives who banged the war drums so disastrously, Bill.  

KRISTOL:  Hogwash.  

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS:  But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong, as well, in Iraq, sir.  You said there was no doubt Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  You said we would be greeted as liberators.  What do you say to those who say you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?  

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT:  I just fundamentally disagree, Reagan -- Megyn.  You've got to go back and look at the track record.  


KURTZ:  So this argument that we shouldn't even hear on television from people who supported the war, you in 2003 were the spokesman for the U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations.  Your thoughts?  

GRENELL:  I don't think liberals get it both ways.  They don't get to say this current problem is all about the mistakes of the past but we can't hear from the people who were in charge during this time.  You don't get to say it both ways.  If we want to hold the people accountable who are currently in office, I'm all for that.  I think there are a lot of really bad decisions going on right now.  The liberals need to pick a side.   Either hold the current people accountable, or if it's a total 25-year ancient problem as Time magazine says, then we need to have the full breadth of the people who were in charge then and now to talk about the issue.  

KURTZ:  Isn't it better to bring them on and press them hard, as Megyn Kelly did with Cheney?  

CRAWFORD:  She handled it perfectly.  These are the folks -- it's kind of like you set the house on fire and then you sue the fire department for not putting it out.  That's what they were.  It's okay to have them on and get their point of view, but it's like a lawyer impeaching the witness in court.  You have to get that stuff out there, their background, you know, all the mistakes they made.  

KURTZ:  Do you agree with Rick, that if the Cheneys and Wolfowitzes and Bill Kristols are going to be pressed about 2003, then Obama officials an former officials need to be pressed about the way in which no residual force was left in 2011?  

CRAWFORD:  I think that was asked in the president's press conference.  It ought to be pressed more, I agree.  And their answer is always about the protection agreement that Maliki wouldn't sign.  I'd like to know a little more about that from them, about how hard did they push to get that agreement, which they now say is the reason they got out.  

GRENELL:  Political reporters are blurring these issues.  There's two decisions.  There's one about whether or not we should have gone into Iraq, which I believe we should have.  The second part is the mishandling of building of the troops and trying to win.  It's two different issues.   Don't blur them.  

KURTZ: By the way, even Chris Matthews on MSNBC praising Megyn Kelly for her handling of the former vice president.  

ASHBURN:  Of course.  Because it's great television to have somebody going after a former vice president in that way, and it's great television.   Producers are going to book these people, because it's great to see people say you had it wrong, you did this and you did that.  And actually hear some accountability.  Because people love to hear when people have made mistakes.  

KURTZ:  Beyond the blame game, talk a little bit about how the war is being covered now and the obstacles that they're facing as opposed to years past.  

ASHBURN:  2003?  right.  

KURTZ:  2003, '4, '5, '6, '7, '8.  

ASHBURN:  Okay.  You want to keep counting.  I think what we're seeing right now is a lack of the big heavyweights, the big stars to go in.  The reason simply is there's no military to protect them.  The same thing happened in the Ukraine when Putin decided that he was going to annex Crimea.  Reporters tried to go in, but there's no one to protect them, and they were roughed up.  

KURTZ:  In fairness, you have a number of newspaper reporters reporting from Iraq, you have people like NBC's Richard Angle, who spent so much time in the region, ABC's Martha Raddatz went over there, Anderson Cooper.  But you're saying we're not seeing Brian Williams.  

ASHBURN:  Right.  That's true.  And there are also no battle front lines.   You don't quite know where to go in all this.  The skirmishes happen here and they may be headed to this city and they're in Mosul.  It is a little blurred to send someone into one place.  


GRENELL:  There's a little bit of a difference here because during the Bush days, everything was about Bush and it was New York Times front page blame Bush.  Now it's the U.S. government or Washington.  Today, the Washington Post has a front page Outlook section where it says they're mistakes that Washington has made.  It's not Barack Obama.  That's the difference.  

CRAWFORD:  Obama disowned Iraq compared to Bush.  


CRAWFORD:  He's not the face of this.  Until now and going forward.  

KURTZ:  Sorry, Craig.  I've got to ask you about a war of words you got into this week with the New York Times, with their profile of your former boss, Ambassador John Bolton.  And reporter Jennifer Steinhower (ph) wrote that you told her there would be no interview with Bolton -- she ultimately did not talk to him -- unless a Republican lawmaker e-mailed on her behalf.  

GRENELL:  Beyond silly.  The issue always was the New York Times credibility.  I said I'm not going to go to John and recommend you because I don't know you and I am suspect about your paper.  She said, oh, no, I'm very credible.  You should ask Republican lawmakers.  And I just simply said, get them to tell John, then, maybe that will help.  It was a very simple 15-second comment and conversation, and she somehow made it to be conditioned.  She also made a big mistake, I'm not John Bolton's spokesman.  She knew that.  

KURTZ:  All right, you had worked for him. So Jennifer Steinhower said you raised it first, the Times stands by its story.  We're happy to have you explain your side.  

GRENELL:  I've never asked the Times for a correction because it's who cares what they say?  We just dismiss them.  (inaudible) means nothing.  

KURTZ:  Rick Grenell, Craig Crawford, thank you very much for stopping by today.  

When we come back, how did Bret and Greta prepare for the big Hillary interview?  We'll ask them.  And later, why has the coverage of the Washington Redskins name furor turn so partisan?  



BAIER:  Did President Obama during his first term ever seriously disappoint you in any way?  

CLINTON:  We had disagreements.  

VAN SUSTEREN:  President Obama has called the IRS scandal a phony scandal.   Is it a phony scandal?  

CLINTON:  Well, I think anytime the IRS is involved for many people it's a real scandal.  


KURTZ:  What was the journalistic strategy as Hillary Clinton came here to Fox News?  I sat down here in studio one with the host of "On the Record" and the anchor of "Special Report," whose new book is "A Special Heart, a Journey of Faith, Hope, Courage and Love."  

Bret Baier, Greta Van Susteren, welcome.  

BAIER:  Thanks.

KURTZ:  We're going to divide the time perfectly evenly, just as you did.  

VAN SUSTEREN:  We've learned that.  

KURTZ:  So Bret, fair and balanced, let's start with the criticism.  You got some folks saying you were too easy on Hillary Clinton, other folks saying you spent way too much time on Benghazi and it's a Fox fixation.

BAIER:  You know, Brit Hume was right on your show, that you know, the criticism was going to come no matter what, on either side.  I think we struck the right tone and the right balance on getting answers.  And we went over a lot of material.  And the reason I focused on Benghazi for those questions, one, we had the breaking news, so I started with Khatallah being captured.  That obviously took up some time, about Miranda rights and that sort of things.  

And the other thing is just laying out some questions methodically about her role.  And I don't think that had been done.  

When she answered that it was the fog of war and that she was careening from the video had everything to do with it to the video had nothing to do with it, it was pretty unique.  She had not said that before.  And if she actually thought the video had nothing to do with it, in those early hours, it's pretty strange that a press release came out blaming the video.  

KURTZ:  Greta, have you been getting beat up online over the Hillary interview?  

VAN SUSTEREN:  Oh, yes, but I mean, it comes with the territory.  Bret and I have been around the block long enough, and every time you have a high profile and sometimes controversial guest, you're going to get it.  There was no surprise.  

KURTZ:  Right. But what do you make of some conservatives saying this is a great love fest?  I certainly didn't see it that way.  You asked a lot of hard questions on a lot of different issues.  But you're saying you can't please everybody.  

VAN SUSTEREN:  I wasn't attempting to please everybody.  I was trying to get information for the viewers and trying to cover a lot of topics.  

KURTZ:  You have a more conversational style.  Was that in part deliberate, to try to get Hillary Clinton to loosen up a bit during this half hour?  

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it was just for me, Howie, it was just a regular interview.  I've interviewed her probably eight times as secretary of state.  Bret and I have interviewed so many people here at Fox News, I really was -- my goal, a hundred percent of my goal was there was no strategy other than to get information.  Bret and I had to divide it up.   That was the most complicated thing was how do you divide it up?  The rest of it was just very routine, at least for me.  

BAIER:  No, I agree.  And the other challenge was the time and the time, you know, bouncing, you know, to get to that time.  And splitting it up.  

VAN SUSTEREN:  Never enough time.  That's the problem.  Never enough time.   That is the one -- look, this isn't a courtroom where you get to keep them up there for days, and if you don't get the right answer, if you don't get a full answer, we have the judge to instruct the witness to answer the question.  

KURTZ:  Spoken like a true lawyer.

VAN SUSTEREN:  You don't get that here.  

KURTZ:  So, Bret, you were the only man in the United States picked to join in these interviews.  I'm sure that was an honor for you.  

BAIER:  The BBC, though.  Yes.  

KURTZ:  That's correct.  What was your thinking going on?  There was a lot of attention, about how is Fox News going to treat Hillary Clinton about the right tone to take and how aggressive to be?  

BAIER:  You know, I don't think it really factored in.  We were not -- that's the tone we would have taken.  I think both of us.  And as Greta said, she's interviewed Hillary Clinton many times.  This was my first time.  I wanted to lay out things in a methodical way.  And there's not always going to be the dude, it was two years ago moment.  And I don't think in interviews trying to get news that somebody should plan to try to get somebody to that point.  Those things --

KURTZ:  (inaudible) have these sort of gotcha moments.  Isn't it true that, and didn't you say that two years ago.  

VAN SUSTEREN:  That's a little bit almost entertainment.  I think it's understandable, a little bit of our lives, Bret and I both have daily shows.  We have so much going on in our lives.  We had to read a 600 page book and we had to divide it up and we didn't have unlimited time.  There was no sort of grand strategy, try to get a gotcha.  It was to try to get information for the viewers.  

KURTZ:  When you asked about everything from NSA surveillance to --

VAN SUSTEREN:  Yes.  She and I don't read the Fourth Amendment the same way.  The Fourth Amendment is very plain.

KURTZ:  But so the IRS scandal, to the Marine still being held in Mexico, to sexism and Sarah Palin, weren't you hoping she would make some news?  

BAIER:  And she did.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, she did.  

KURTZ:  Yes, her responses to some of those issues --

VAN SUSTEREN:  But there was also--

KURTZ:  -- gotten less attention than the Benghazi questions.

VAN SUSTEREN:  I actually thought -- I was curious, though, I was curious what her answers were.  And I think the viewers are curious.  Even viewers that hate the -- may have ripped our skin off.  There have been a few of those.  Bret and I have exchanged a couple, yes.  

BAIER:  I might do a blog where I just read them.  Jimmy Kimmel, he has the tweets -- I may steal that.

VAN SUSTEREN:  He can make it to a rap.  He's actually a good rapper.  

KURTZ:  So what's the measure of success?  Because this was a high profile interview, whether she makes news, whether you elicit information, whether out get out without embarrassing yourself?  What's the standard that you apply?  

BAIER:  I think the news part is what we're striving for.  And I think she did that on a number of different fronts.  And the IRS, the separation between Hillary Clinton and the administration was really astounding.  I think some of Greta's questions on a host of topics, the Marine in Mexico.   When I asked her about the economy, right track, wrong track, there's clearly this fine walk that Hillary Clinton is doing to be attractive to the left, but also distance herself from this administration.  It's having problems.  

VAN SUSTEREN:  And I think another challenge for us is we were not first.   We had to be sort of clever and find interesting topics and find new ways to ask things, because a lot of people who follow these interviews follow a lot of them.  So we wanted to be a little bit different and offer something else up.  

KURTZ:  Bret Baier, Greta Van Susteren, thanks very much.  

BAIER:  Thanks, Howie.  

KURTZ:  Greta and Bret predicted Hillary Clinton will be back at Fox News.  

Up next, the World Cup doing well in the ratings.  I thought most Americans found soccer a snooze.  And later, Mitt Romney isn't running again.  Why won't David Gregory take no for an answer?  



KURTZ:  The controversy over the Redskins name has been raging here in Washington for years.  But now it's become a major media national issue fueled this week by a patent commission ruling stripping the football team of some of its trademark protections for the name and logo.  And lefty and righty pundits have lined up on opposite sides of this playing field, with one MSNBC anchor even warning that Harry Reid was going to say the name.  


JOY REID, MSNBC:  An interesting case on the floor of the Senate, continuing to talk, back to Dan Snyder.  And he does use the name of the team, so I'll just warn you guys about that in advance.   

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  So you go ahead, you cheer if you want the stripping of trademark rights from the Redskins.  No one is safe when the protections of a constitutional republic are stripped away.  


KURTZ:  Joining us now from New York is Joe Concha, a columnist for Mediaite.  And a lot of Native Americans are offended by the name, but how did it become another one of these media issues where the right is defending in this case owner Dan Snyder and the left says the name is horribly offensive and disgusting?

JOE CONCHA, MEDIAITE.COM:  Howie, no issue is safe from a lefty-righty argument these days.  It's amazing.  The left sees it as an issue because in their view, a minority group is being exploited and insulted by a member of the richest 1 percent, in this case Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for obscene profit.  The right sees it as an issue because they see it as government overreach, as getting involved in private business where they have no business getting involved.  So that's why we're seeing it as a lefty-righty kind of argument right now, and the media certainly has jumped on this story.  A lot of passions running high here, Howie.

KURTZ:  Right.  I certainly think the government doesn't need to be involved in resolving this, but the Seattle Times becoming the latest publication to say it's not going to use the name.  Isn't that a little PC?   Whether you agree or disagree the name is offensive, it's been the Redskins for 70 years, and right now it is still the Redskins.  

CONCHA:  Yes, since the Great Depression, the name Redskins has been around.  And you know, Howie, with the exception of Pete King of Sports Illustrated and two guys you may know from the Washington Post, Tony Kornhauser, Michael Wilbon, who have spoke out about the name and spoke out against it for decades, they were on board this when it was based on their principles and not based on convenience, when it wasn't fashionable.  And for all these sportswriters and commentators and even whole publications that are coming forward now when they've had bylines for years and saying we deem this as offense, I ask where the hell have you been on this issue and --

KURTZ:  Want to name a couple?  


KURTZ:  No, I'm asking you.  

CONCHA:  Bob Costas I have tremendous respect for, Howie.  He's been in broadcasting since 1974.  NBC has covered the NFL for all those years, almost, with the exception of about an 8-year window, and not until last year did Mr. Costas come out and say he found the name offensive.  He's had a byline since '74.  He could have spoke out about it way back when.  But only when the political winds shifted did Bob decided to say, hey, guys, me, too, better CYA here, because I don't want to be deemed as racist.  

KURTZ:  Right.  But of course everybody has to take a stand now because it is a national controversy.  

Let me move you to the World Cup, which is doing pretty good in the ratings for ESPN, pretty well I should say.  I thought most Americans found soccer horribly boring.  

CONCHA:  Well, you are increasingly alone in that category, Howie.  Today's match, U.S./Portugal, 6:00 p.m., will be watched by more Americans than the NBA finals, which only feature the most popular athlete arguably in the world, LeBron James, and probably will double or even triple the NHL Stanley Cup finals, which featured LA and New York markets, Rangers and Kings.  So while soccer used to struggle in ratings, 2014 ratings have exploded.  It's good news for ESPN and ABC.  What can you say?  

KURTZ:  Well, forgive me if when I'm not excited when there's a 0-0 game.  

CONCHA:  Nil-nil.

KURTZ:  But I get a lot of kids play it and it's becoming more popular.   But is soccer, or football as the rest of the world calls it, really arriving in the U.S. or is it more of a every couple of years everybody gets interested in the World Cup and then they forget about it?

CONCHA:  You know, Howie, everybody loves kerling during the Olympics.   That seems to be kind of the same thing with soccer.  They love the World Cup, they love the stage, the events.  But then once the World Cup goes away, MLS, that's Major League Soccer, it's increasing in popularity, it's getting better ratings.  But is it mainstream?  Is it going to challenge football, basketball or hockey any time soon?  Probably not.  But the World Cup certainly is.  So far, Howie.

KURTZ:  All right, reality check.  Enjoy the game, Joe Concha, thanks for stopping by.  

CONCHA:  Thank you.  

KURTZ:  After the break, the New York Times goes out of bounds, way out of bounds with Phil Mickelson, and what Katie Couric told me about her move to Yahoo!, her canceled talk show and her wedding.  


KURTZ:  Here are your buzz briefs.  The New York Times and Washington Post ran front pages Friday on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  Prosecutors said in court papers that he was part of an effort to illegally coordinate fund raising with conservative groups during his recall election, but no charges have been filed, two judges have ruled no laws were broken, and the legal definitions here are fuzzy.  Is it news?  Absolutely.  But would the papers have given this page one play if Walker wasn't a Republican eying a presidential run?  I don't think so.  Walker for his part is calling the media a willing accomplice of the left.  

NBC's Chuck Todd was pretty rough on Brian Schweitzer after the former Montana governor apologized for saying that Eric Cantor is effeminate, and that Dianne Feinstein reminded him of a street walker.  But Todd had to add one very important detail.  


CHUCK TODD, NBC:  He sounded like a stereotype from the '80s, talking about gaydar with Eric Cantor and doing it now -- he has since tried to apologize.  But there's sort of a buffoonery to him.  And I should mention, he's a paid MSNBC contributor.


KURTZ:  Chuck sure didn't cut his cable colleague any slack.  In our press picks, this media fail, the New York Times puts Phil Mickelson in the rough by reporting based on anonymous sources that he was under scrutiny in an insider trading investigation that also involved financier Carl Icahn.  But the Times again, quoted unnamed sources, reported this past week that the golfer did not trade stock in Clorox just before a takeover bid by Icahn, that the original sources had been wrong.  That is a huge mistake, a double bogey, if you will, that really damaged Mickelson's reputation.  

I spoke with Katie Couric the other day about her new job at Yahoo! and the exclusive interview she landed with John Kerry.  


KATIE COURIC:  So you don't think a residual force would have kept this from happening?

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE:  Absolutely, unquestionably not.  


KURTZ:  Katie loved the luxury of a half hour online session, saying she would have gotten five minutes if she was still at the Today Show and 3:30 at the CBS Evening News.  She said she's proud of her recently canceled daytime talk show because she refused to dumb it down, but she couldn't come on to talk about it because she's getting married this weekend.  Fair enough.  You can read my interview with her tomorrow on  

Ahead on MediaBuzz, the Today Show cleans up Donald Trump's mess.  But first, Glenn Beck says the liberals were right and he was wrong?  Our video verdict, straight ahead.  


KURTZ:  Time now for our video verdict.  This is a pet peeve of mine, when politicians insist they're not running for president and journalists won't take no for an answer.  

ASHBURN:  Mitt Romney made it quite clear he won't make another run for the White House.  But David Gregory went there anyway on Meet the Press.


DAVID GREGORY, NBC:  Will you be a candidate in 2016, if you were drafted, if the conditions were right?  Would you consider another run?  

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  David, I'm not running for president.  I said that so many times.  

GREGORY:  100 percent Mitt Romney will not -- even if drafted, will not be a candidate in 2016?

ROMNEY:  I'm not running.  Talk of a draft is kind of silly.  


ASHBURN:  Then he went on to ask again.  I understand why he wanted to ask.  

KURTZ:  Why?  

ASHBURN:  Because politicians often lie when it comes to things like this.  

KURTZ:  Yes, but in this case, Mitt Romney is not running.  He's run twice.   He has lost.  And if he was going to secretly plot another run for the White House --

ASHBURN:  I know, he wouldn't be giving up his donors.  Right?

KURTZ:  He wouldn't be breaking it on Meet the Press.

ASHBURN:  He'd be breaking it here.  

KURTZ:  David Gregory has plenty of company on this.  But I don't understand why that question gets asked again and again.  

ASHBURN: I'm with you.  Elizabeth Warren did the same thing.  It happened to her too.  I'm giving it a three.  

KURTZ:  I'm giving it a two.  

ASHBURN:  Ooh.  

OK.  Glenn Beck has always had plenty of strong opinions and has always seemed very sure he was right.  

KURTZ:  But the founder of The Blaze did something highly unusual the other day in reconsidering the Iraq war.  


GLENN BECK:  Now, in spite of the things that I felt at the time when we went into war, liberals said we shouldn't get involved.  They said we shouldn't get mired in another foreign mess.  We shouldn't nation build.   Let me lead with my mistakes.  You were right.  Liberals, you were right, we shouldn't have.  


ASHBURN:  Shocking, liberals, you were right.  Good for Glenn Beck for saying something like that, I think.  

KURTZ:  Glenn Beck has said a lot of divisive things in his career, including when he was here at Fox, like President Barack Obama has a deep- seated hatred of white people.  But here he is, admitting he was wrong, and I salute him for admitting the mistake, in his view, and for saying that the left and right can now come together, although he's saying we should stay out of Iraq.  

ASHBURN:  I agree, but I think it's good for public discourse that he's had an evolution in his thinking and he's not afraid to say it.  

KURTZ:  We'll see if he continues to try to shed the inflammatory reputation he once had.   

ASHBURN:  I give it an eight.  

KURTZ:  I will give it a six.  

Still to come, your best tweets, Jay Carney's one regret as he leaves the White House, and The Donald slams one of his critics, but he mangled the facts.  Stay with us.  


KURTZ:  Here are your top tweets with your grades for Hillary Clinton's Fox interview.  Shawn Walters, "D.  She filibustered every question and there was a lack of focus.  One interviewer would be better, either one."  Willie Davis, "C for toughness of questions, A for finally showing an ounce of character when interviewing a Democrat."  CJ tweets, "I give it a five on a scale of ten, spent too much time on Benghazi and not enough time on her policy views."  RJ Ingold's entire review comes down to this one word, "superb."  Rosemary Wilkerson saying, "Respectful, but too soft.  She was well rehearsed and there were no surprise or really tough questions."  

ASHBURN:  And we talked about that earlier.  A lot of conservatives say it was simply too soft.  

KURTZ:  And I'm going to respectfully disagree.  

ASHBURN:  Me, too.  

KURTZ:  In our press picks, this was over the line.  Donald Trump punched back after Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin called the giant new Trump sign on his skyscraper utterly out of character and grotesquely over-scale.  The Donald, defending his Chicago building, ripped Kamin on the Today Show.  


DONALD TRUMP:  This has turned out to be a great piece of architecture, a great thing for Chicago.  I do great buildings.  This was started by a third-rate architectural critic for the Chicago Tribune, who I thought got fired.  He was gone for a long period of time, most people thought he got fired.  


KURTZ:  Kamin has worked at the Trib for 20 years and never been fired.   The Today Show, to its credit, corrected the Donald's mistake.

Jay Carney wrapped up his tenure as White House press secretary this week, but not before talking about doing televised combat in the briefings with Stephen Colbert.


JAY CARNEY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  When somebody's getting riled up, and filled with sometimes --


CARNEY:  Exactly.  


COLBERT:  You didn't answer the question.  

CARNEY:  And if they're really obnoxious, you get a little rattled and you sort of engage, you finish the exchange thinking, I won that, I killed.   And then you look at it later on TV and you realize that nobody actually sees the whole exchange.  They just see you wagging your finger or looking like a jerk.  


ASHBURN:  If the shoe fits.  

KURTZ:  You're suggesting his analysis of his performance was correct?  

ASHBURN:  Maybe.  There were a lot of times that he really attacked reporters, especially Ed Henry in a very personal way.  And one of the things he said when he left was that he enjoyed every minute of his time there.  Even the minutes in the briefing room.  And I think that was a very polite way of lying.  

KURTZ:  OK, (inaudible).  But Jay Carney has a point in that television reporters -- and he's tangled with Jon Karl and Major Garrett and others -- they are trying to get a really sharp exchange that they can show on television, and so he kind of has to fight back.  

ASHBURN:  Yes, but the reporters want to look good by asking the tough questions.  That's what they're going to show.  

KURTZ:  All right.  Jay Carney can now go do something else where he doesn't have to get beat up.  

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz."  I'm Howard Kurtz.  Check out our Facebook page, where we post our columns and respond to your questions on video.  We're back here next Sunday morning, 11 and 5 o'clock Eastern with the latest buzz.

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