Mistakes, blame game over downed plane

Media scramble to cover Ukraine tragedy


This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," July 20, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the buzz meter this Sunday, from the crisis along the Texas border to the fighting in Iraq and Gaza and the plane shot down in Ukraine, are the media providing a fair picture or a distorted one? We'll ask John McCain.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I think the media in many respects, particularly when I read some of the, quote, commentators columns, they continue to apologize and justify what is clearly a failed national security policy on this administration.


KURTZ: The Arizona senator on the coverage on the chaos, whether the press is soft on President Obama and why he's sometimes portrayed as a grumpy old man. Plus, what he really thinks of Jon Stewart.

The horrifying shoot-down of that Malaysian jet. Have the media been too quick to speculate about Russia's role before the facts are in? And are some pundits rushing to blame Obama?

A New Jersey reporter is pushed out of his job after speaking out in a cop killer case about crime in the black community.


SEAN BERGIN, FORMER NEWS 12 JERSEY REPORTER: We decided to air it because it's important to shine a light on this anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America's inner cities. Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject.


KURTZ: Was Sean Bergin punished for breaking the rules of journalism or for telling an uncomfortable truth?

Plus, Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox make a blockbuster bid to buy Time Warner. What's behind the takeover move, what would happen to CNN, and how would this transform the media landscape? I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is "Media Buzz."

From the moment Malaysia flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine, the media were in wall to wall mode, with some journalists speculating about Russia's possible role, others urging caution, and one just being duped.


GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS: I would say, as a war correspondent and weighing all of the facts as they've been coming in, admittedly, this is my opinion. I believe that Vladimir Putin has the blood of these airline passengers on his hands.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We should point out that a number of news networks have been airing some footage of what appears to be smoke rising on a horizon, apparently reportedly from a plane crash. We cannot independently confirm that that is actually a plane crash from the Malaysian jet that we are referring to. It's possible it's something that occurred earlier in the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was looking out the window and I saw a projectile flying through the sky. It would appear that the plane was shot down by a blast of wind from Howard Stern's [ bleep ].

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it would appear that the plane was shot down. Can you tell us anything more from your military training?


KURTZ: Plenty of news outlets, including the wire services, reported that there appeared to be Americans on board.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are reports that 23 Americans were on board. That's according to the manifest.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN: We believe 23 Americans, according to what we're hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There may have been as many as 23 U.S. citizens on board.


KURTZ: That was false. Just one American, it turns out, was on the plane, and some conservative commentators soon turned to President Obama's schedule and whether he appeared to be publicly engaged with the downing on the plane and on the same day, the Israeli invasion of Gaza.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Here we have the closest ally involved in a ground invasion, we have 300 people shot out of the sky, likely by one of our biggest enemies, and the president is raising money.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS: Instead of running around lower Manhattan, raising money for Democrats, the president should get on national television and call Vladimir Putin a killer. He should isolate him diplomatically and put him back in a black hole from which he came.


KURTZ: Joining us now to examine the coverage of this tragedy, Fox News contributors Lauren Ashburn, who hosts "Social Buzz" at Jim Pinkerton, contributing editor at "American Conservative" magazine. And Juan Williams, columnist for "The Hill."

Everyone scrambles when there's a major international tragedy. What has struck you about the coverage? You have Geraldo accusing Putin of being a murderer? Soon after the news breaks, you have Krystal Ball on MSNBC--

LAUREN ASHBURN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Getting punked by Howard Stern's.

KURTZ: Person.

ASHBURN: Person. Whoever that was. In the beginning, I think the network coverage was very appropriate. They expanded to one-hour specials. You had wall to wall coverage on cable news. But the problem comes when they don't know more information, and everybody is (inaudible), and that's when the mistakes are made, as we saw.

KURTZ: Washington Post this morning, Jim Pinkerton says a U.S. official believes that -- says that the U.S. believes Russia supplied this missile launcher to these pro-Russian separatists. Obviously, the Russians bear some responsibility here, but all this finger pointing in the media, what happened to waiting for the facts?

JIM PINKERTON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think in this case, people -- the facts are so obvious and clear, that people look for opinion and judgment. I think Geraldo Rivera was right. I think the Russians are responsible. And I think Samantha Power says so, she's the U.N. ambassador. President Obama has basically said so. I think in this case, the circumstantial evidence is so overwhelming that the Russians were involved, either pushing the button or helping the separatists push the button, that the media is simply sort of catching up with reality.

There were mistakes made about the number of Americans killed, but on the whole, I think the media got this one right.

KURTZ: Don't we live in a culture though, Juan, where this kind of demand for immediate answers, even when the answer is, as with the case of how many Americans were on board, is simply not clear?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I agree with Jim, that Geraldo was right. Now I can say that, based on the circumstance. But, you know, in the immediate moments when this thing is breaking--

KURTZ: When he said that, it wasn't even--


WILLIAMS: That's what troubles me. It's the speculation. It's the 23 Americans. We know now there are not 23, but that became gospel within that day, it was gospel there were 23 Americans on board. And then that led to questions about the foreign policy implications and what the United States should be doing in the name of protecting our citizens.

PINKERTON: Geraldo is on an opinion show, "Outnumbered" is an opinion show, and he said this is my opinion.

WILLIAMS: He certainly did.

PINKERTON: It wasn't like he said it was a fact. He said it's my opinion.

KURTZ: OK. Some aspects of this remain shrouded in ambiguity. There is video we can put up of some people carrying off a black box or what appeared to be the black box from the plane. We don't know who they are.

But at the same time, while this was clearly terrorism, it's eerily reminiscent, isn't it, of the Malaysian plane of four months ago, which disappeared, and then there were weeks and weeks of speculation about did we find the debris and what caused it.


ASHBURN: How many times do we have to hear from the same aviation experts that black boxes are important to finding out exactly what happened? I feel like we just get into this mind-set where we have to fill the time and over and over again, we turn to the same people to tell us the same thing about all of these airline tragedies.

KURTZ: But since it's such a big story, 298 people dead, international repercussions, what is the problem with going very heavy on this, and do you feel like other things are being --

ASHBURN: I do, of course. Do we still have an immigration problem in this country?

KURTZ: Last time I checked.

ASHBURN: Because you wouldn't know it based on the coverage. The coverage from the very beginning is appropriate. People are saddened, want to know what happened. But when you don't have information, why don't we cover other things that are still important to Americans, like immigration?

PINKERTON: I think one story that could get covered, the shootdown story, is the president's travel schedule. I can remember very well when President Reagan or President Bush 43 was seeming to be on vacation or doing something small at the time of a great event, and the media pounded on him. I think it's taken a few days for the media to catch up on President Obama, but the New York Times today, sticking to his travel plans, at risk of looking bad Obama maintains schedule despite world crises. This is the New York Times finally realizing the optics of the president doing fund-raisers, like Benghazi, like Texas. It is starting to hurt.

KURTZ: But that kind of criticism kind, Juan, and we played a little bit of it at the top, you see a lot of that from conservatives, almost no matter what the crisis is. The president is playing golf, the president is going to fund-raisers, the president is shooting pool. This is all about the optics, and the same thing was said about George W. Bush, he was spending too much time at his Crawford ranch. But do you think the media are too obsessed with the optics, as opposed to what is actually being done to solve these problems or respond to international crises?

WILLIAMS: In fact, you know, that came up this week here at Fox. I said, you know, if you're asking me is the man engaged, do I believe that this president is paying attention to foreign policy issues? I think he's issued the sanctions on Russia just the day before. He was in consultation with his top aides, including the CIA director at the time he was going to the New York fund-raiser. And I would add if you look back, historically, something like George W. Bush, right after the Madrid bombing, 200 people dead, he went to a fund-raiser in L.A. But we are in such polarized times now -- and I think there is such an instinct to jump on President Obama--

KURTZ: So you're saying it's partisan?

WILLIAMS: Of course it's partisan.

ASHBURN: But there is an issue, and Julie Pace said this earlier on Fox. She said there is an issue the other way with the optics. And that if you are the president and you don't continue your schedule as normal, then it looks like these things are blown out of proportion. I'm not saying I agree with that strategy, but that's how the White House is looking at it.

PINKERTON: But the problem is, we're seeing a president, as mainstream media outlets like Politico have been pointing out a very disengaged president, about (ph) doing fund-raisers and so on. So, for example, what we see in the front page of the Washington Post today, aides were warned of border crisis. You've got to ask, where was the president over the last year or two as this issue in El Salvador and Central America was bubbling up?

KURTZ: But I think that's perfectly legitimate to ask why the president and his administration didn't anticipate the VA crisis, didn't anticipate, was seen to be slow on IRS e-mails and all of these other things that happened, but when you get into like, gee, should the guy play golf? I know a lot of people are outraged by that, but he is president 24/7.

PINKERTON: Well, President Bush dealt with this and never played golf after the Iraq war started. He made a choice. He said I accept the judgment of the American people that the optics of me playing golf while Americans are getting killed in Iraq are poor, and he didn't do it.

WILLIAMS: I think it's playing to partisanship in a sense that you know what, we're all human beings, and I think we have a better president whenever that president takes a moment to go with his family or play golf or do something normal, as opposed to somehow being obsessed and looking like, as Lauren was saying, the world is ending, the world is ending.

KURTZ: Right. Let me switch now to the immigration crisis, which we all agree also needs attention. This week, Jose Vargas, former Washington Post reporter, illegal immigrant, a guy who founded an organization and being an advocate for illegal immigrants, went to the Texas border, got detained, and later ended up being released. Let me play a little sound from Vargas on CNN a few weeks ago.


JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT JOURNALIST: America is not a country that turns its back on children. That's not who we are as a country. You know, and I don't want to bring race into this, but if these were white kids, would we be doing this to the kids? Right?


ASHBURN: This guy has an ulterior motive for doing this. He's on television. He will most likely write a book about this and include this in it. And he is selfish. He is selfish to go down to that border and pull off a stunt like that when the Border Patrol people have enough to worry about. He's also thumbing his nose at American law. This guy broke the law.

KURTZ: Well, he was brought here at the age of 12 from the Philippines. He has sort of come out of the closet in a New York Times magazine in 2011, and he certainly is very good at getting attention. Do you think the mainstream media treat Jose Vargas as something of a hero?

PINKERTON: Of course they treat him as a hero. Lauren is absolutely right. And he's milking a book contract and a movie deal and God knows what else he'll have. But meanwhile, stories like Jan Winter (ph) at Fox has a headline this morning, cartels shooting heavy caliber machine guns across the border into America aiming at American officials. That story will get one scintilla of the coverage of the Vargas story.

KURTZ: If the military had not only detained Jose Vargas but it decided to deport him, because he obviously has broken the law, do you think that would have been an outrage? Would the media have denounced the administration for that?

WILLIAMS: They would have seen it as, and I think this was the reason he wasn't deported, is the administration made a decision that it was just too politically explosive at this moment. We have got the children at the border, we got the larger argument about comprehensive immigration reform. Vargas now I think is the stand-in for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. He's the best known illegal immigrant in America. And so he has that status. I must say that I interviewed him on stage when he made his documentary, and that documentary is going to be aired on HBO. It is a big media sensation. He is no doubt a hero to the American media, and especially to the American left.

KURTZ: Yes. I've interviewed him as well, and he is a nice guy and was a good reporter. But he is such an advocate now, but I think taking your point, he is the safest illegal immigrant in America because the administration is not going to want to have the storm of criticism that would surround his deportation.

All right, let get a break here. Send me a tweet about our show. It's @howardkurtz. As you know, we always read the best ones at the end of the program.

Ahead, John McCain makes his "Media Buzz" debut, talking about the president's coverage, wacko birds and even Jon Stewart. But first, the New Jersey TV reporter who spoke out about black crime and the hatred of police, should he have lost his job?


KURTZ: Sean Bergin knew he was breaking the rules. The reporter for New Jersey's News 12 was describing the intense reaction to his interview with the wife of a cop killer. And then he denounced what he called the anti- cop mentality in urban America.


BERGIN: This same sick, perverse line of thinking is evident from Jersey City to Newark and Paterson to Trenton. It has made the police officer's job impossible, and it has got to stop. The underlying cause for all of this, of course, young black men growing up without fathers. Unfortunately, no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject.


KURTZ: The station suspended Bergin and then demoted him to a $300 job with one weekly assignment, saying its policy is that reporters must be objective and not declare personal opinions on the air. Bergin quickly resigned, and he explained what he did with Megyn Kelly.


BERGIN: I was trying to have some context and balance, and -- and yes, look, there's no doubt that I went off the reservation, I made a couple of rogue remarks at the end. I knew what I was doing.


KURTZ: I say what Sean Bergin did was courageous. And you think?

PINKERTON: Let's have a little more context here. Let's also remind people that the woman he interviewed, her late husband, had -- shot -- killed a policeman, and then the woman said herself, I wish he had shot more cops. That's so offensive and heinous (inaudible). Look, he spoke to something that Juan Williams addressed five or six years ago in his book, "Enough," enough about the pathological black culture. Too bad that book - - he should -- if Bergin had cited that book on the air and said as expert Juan Williams says, he might still have his job.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

KURTZ: But the way Sean Bergin put it, when he talked about black men from fatherless families committing crimes, without qualifications, do you find that in any way offensive?

WILLIAMS: Offensive, no, it's true. That's the thing. But it would be great, Howie, if he had the statistics, the research at that point to back it up on the air, because then I think it would have seemed like he was doing reporting at the moment rather than simply expressing his point of view.

KURTZ: The fact that it was off-the-cuff and the --


WILLIAMS: And the fact that it was in the moment. In other words, he's reporting on a crime story and suddenly he's expressing this opinion. That's where he, Sean himself, who I think is a hero to me now for having dared to say this, he himself says he went rogue by doing it. He understands that. But let me just say that what he tried to do is right. There's so many times when you see stories reported and people don't get to the root cause and the truth of the heart of the matter, and Sean Bergin did that.

ASHBURN: He had no business doing what he did. His job is as a reporter. I've been on the streets of Washington, D.C. I've covered stories exactly like this. And I know that if I had uttered an opinion about this, I would have been fired. That is his job. If he wants to editorialize, then he needs to go to his bosses and say, I want to do a piece on X. He's not being courageous. He's breaking the rules, Howie.

KURTZ: You think he should have been fired?

ASHBURN: I do, I do. He brought up an issue that is very important to society and to this country. But he is not the person to do.

PINKERTON: If you go to, say, the Media Research Center or News Busters, you see all the time reporters expressing opinions on issues.


PINKERTON: And they don't get fired. A lot of times, nothing happens to them at all. In this case, I think the hysterical reaction of News 12 to fire him or push him out was overkill.

WILLIAMS: Might have been. But let me just say also this week in the news, you had two reporters working in the Middle East who expressed opinions and got sanctioned for it, one Diana Magnay, who wrote in a tweet something about the Israelis watching her over Gaza and saying if she uttered the wrong word, she was in trouble. She called them a terrible name. And then you had Ayman Mohyeldin of NBC taken off because it was seen his coverage, in their opinion, was favorable to the Palestinians. He was then put back. But again, you can't express an opinion, even in a tweet, even in terms of your coverage. You have to be careful.

PINKERTON: But neither of them were fired. That's the point. Neither of them were fired, unlike Bergin.

ASHBURN: But how is it different from this case, Juan? You can't express opinions, period.

PINKERTON: Because this guy got fired. That's the difference.

ASHBURN: He didn't quite get fired.

KURTZ: He got demoted in a way that he didn't have much of a job left. And I agree he broke the rules. He says he broke the rules. And there should be some punishment. And we always talk here about a reporter should give you straight news. I agree with you to that extent. I just think the punishment was too harsh. What if he had been suspended for a couple of days, and the station said since there is so much attention here, you're going to do a three-part series on urban crime, the role of fatherless families, the attitudes towards police.

ASHBURN: But we also don't know his history there. And on Megyn' show, he took a pot shot at the news director, saying he's made other bad calls. So we don't know the whole history here. Has he done it before? Has he been reprimanded? We just don't know.

PINKERTON: But what we do know is that real issues, again Juan's book, what Howie said about the three-part series, to think the issue is too many guns or fatherless children, either way, it's a great discussion, and there's a larger context here in which in this case that triggered all this, an innocent policemen who is Hispanic by the way, who gets murdered and ambushed --

ASHBURN: But give me the statistic when you're reporting on it. Don't just make it your opinion.


PINKERTON: This weekend in Chicago, just alone, 22 people shot in 12 hours.

KURTZ: Final word.

WILLIAMS: I think it's important, the black journalists organization said there's no correlation between fatherlessness and shooting cops. I would agree with that. But again, the root cause is dysfunction in that community, a black community that's poor and very much anti-authority, and Sean Bergin was right about it.

KURTZ: Juan Williams, Jim Pinkerton, thank you.

Ahead on "Media Buzz," my conversation with John McCain, about why some of what's written about him makes him mad. But first, could Rupert Murdoch end up owning HBO, Warner Brothers and the rest of Time Warner? Charlie Gasparino on whether that $80 billion bid could succeed.


KURTZ: Rupert Murdoch already controls a mighty media empire that ranges from Fox television and the Fox News Channel and 20th Century Fox to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. Now he's made an $80 billion bid to buy Time Warner, which includes TBS, TNT, HBO, the Warner Brothers Studio and CNN, which under the plan would be sold off. Joining us now from New York is Charlie Gasparino, senior correspondent for the Fox Business Network. And Charlie, Time Warner's board has turned down this bid. Is that in part because it does not want to be sold to the brash and audacious founder of the Fox News Channel?

CHARLIE GASPARINO, FOX NEWS: It's always wonderful reporting on your own boss here. But I would say this. My little contribution to this thing before I got thrown out of Sun Valley last week was, I reported that there was broad-based interest in Time Warner, that once Time Warner, Jeff Bewkes began selling off various parts of it, the cable division, the magazine part, it was down to a certain core of content, like HBO, CNN. There is a lot of interest in this, particularly in Silicon Valley, companies like Google and Amazon. The stock shot up 3 percent. We didn't know that Mr. Murdoch put his bid in already. We knew that there was interest on the part of Mr. Murdoch. But I think that is really his end game, that Time Warner's end game is to get this bid, whether it's Mr. Murdoch, whether it's Google's, whether it's Amazon, as high as possible.

I think Mr. Murdoch went into this, based on my sources, that he knew that they would reject the initial one. So he would have to come back again -- and this is a guy who--

KURTZ: That's pretty common. And, in fact --


GASPARINO: This guy plays his game, Mr. Murdoch, he knows what's going on 15 steps ahead.

KURTZ: Culturally speaking, do you think there's an aversion to Rupert Murdoch in the elite halls of the Time Warner boardroom?

GASPARINO: Maybe. There's no aversion to money, though. And that's the only thing that matters here. And I will tell you this. I can't tell you who is going to ultimately win. When I talked to my sources out there, they tell you that one thing you don't bet against, you don't bet against Mr. Murdoch. He's one of the best in the business at this. However, I can't guarantee he's going to win this.

KURTZ: No, he may lose. There's a kind of a myth here, because he tried to get the Wall Street Journal, the family that owned it said no, no, no. Finally they said yes.

GASPARINO: This is a different ball game, though. This is a different ball game. This is a stock--

KURTZ: Public company, much bigger game--

GASPARINO: And not only that, this is a company that's done well. Its stock has done well, and it could do even better, and it could get another bid. I mean, I really think, based on my sources, I'm a little scared to say opinion here, based on that last (inaudible)--

KURTZ: Go right ahead.

GASPARINO: But based on my sources, that Mr. Bewkes' end game is to get somebody else involved, get a Google involved, get an Amazon involved and - -

KURTZ: Drive the price up.

GASPARINO: -- let the bidding begin. This company is not going to go for $80 a share. The only thing I can tell you, and, again, what I reported last week is that this company has been in sale since they started jettisoning various parts of it. And the only thing -- it's not going to be owned by the current owner. It's going to be owned by somebody else.

KURTZ: There's been a lot of talk about Murdoch just wants to get bigger, but of course HBO--

GASPARINO: Everybody wants to get bigger.

KURTZ: -- the crown jewel, the sports franchise of Time Warner would also be useful. But federal regulators could object to this on anti-trust grounds. And anticipating that, Murdoch has already said he would sell off CNN. If that were to happen, would ABC, would CBS be interested? What would happen to CNN, in your view?

GASPARINO: CBS -- they've already said it, Les Moonves has been on the record, that he's -- the CEO of CBS is basically saying that he's interested in it. Yes, CNN is -- listen, CNN may not have great ratings, but it does pretty well. It makes money, and it has got a brand. So it's definitely going to be sold.

But, you know, here is the thing. The bottom line is this. This company, no matter who buys it, is gone. This company has been takeover bait literally since they sold off the magazine part. It's a matter of who.

KURTZ: I predict this story is not over. You've made that clear. Charlie Gasparino, we'll probably have you back to talk more about it.


KURTZ: Up next, John McCain takes on the media crisis of the border crisis and the blame game over Iraq.

And later, a CNBC crusader gets slapped down by a reporter from CNBC.



KURTZ: Whether the issue is illegal immigration or foreign policy or just plain politics, John McCain remains one of the most visible members of Congress, a fixture on television, sometimes at odds with his own party and with the press. Today we're turning the tables and giving him a chance to critique the mainstream media. I sat down with the Republican senator here in the Washington bureau.


KURTZ: John McCain, welcome.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Howie.

KURTZ: Let's start with immigration. The media has cast you as an immigration reformer. You supported the Senate compromise that passed last year. You campaigned in 2008 on immigration reform, and yet you've been highly critical of President Obama over these 60,000 illegal immigrant kids who have come across our border. Any inconsistency there?

MCCAIN: I think you could argue that from one respect, but on the other respect, you can view this, one reason why I'm so critical is it's such a polarizing event that it hurts our ability, in fact, some observers say it's dead, ability to sell immigration, comprehensive immigration reform. Because now the opponents are saying, see, we've got broken borders, and we have to secure our borders first, which by the way I agree with.

KURTZ: Has the press created a lot of sympathy for these children, who after all are in difficult situations, made a dangerous journey, and has that muddied the waters of the immigration debate?

MCCAIN: My problem with the press coverage is not that they're sympathetic to these young children. We are all sympathetic. But what I believe where I'm critical of the press is -- legitimately critical -- is their emphasis or lack of emphasis on what happens to these children on the way up. The train of death, the rapes, the total abuse of children. So many on the left and in the media are saying, gee, it's so terrible that there are in the conditions on which they're now -- once they get here, well, it's just a -- it's a total abuse of human rights on the way here.

KURTZ: A lot of people, as you know, say the press has always been very sympathetic to Barack Obama. You ran against him six years ago. But has that been as true in this second term, where there have been all these scandals and controversies?

MCCAIN: I think the press in some ways would have been harder on George W. Bush when you look around the world and see the turmoil in the world today. Literally, every place you look is in some kind of turmoil. And so I think the media, in many respects, particularly when I read some of the, quote, commentators' columns, they continue to apologize and justify what is clearly a failed national security policy on this administration.

KURTZ: Is that true with the current chaos in Iraq? Now, you, in fairness, were very critical of the war under George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. You also say the U.S. had the war won after the surge. But a lot of people in the media, and Dick Cheney's has gotten some of this, say those of you who supported the invasion in 2003 are discredited because you never apologized for your misjudgment.

MCCAIN: The reason why I think some of us don't apologize for our misjudgment is because the secretary of state, one of the most respected individuals in the world, went before the United Nations Security Council - -

KURTZ: Colin Powell.

MCCAIN: And made a compelling argument that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

KURTZ: Which turned out to be wrong.

MCCAIN: Yes. Which turned out to be wrong. But faced with the same scenario again, the most highly respected man in America, literally, making that case, I would have made the same judgment and cast the same vote.

Now, but also the fact is, we did have it won. Also, what I find totally lacking in the media is they accept this idea that it was all the Iraqis' fault that we didn't leave a residual force behind.

KURTZ: Jon Stewart took a sarcastic shot at you.


JON STEWART, HOST, DAILY SHOW: John McCain was one of the wrongest before and during the war. It's only fitting that in this current crisis, he was on so many shows, you would think he had just won "Dancing with the Stars."


KURTZ: You've been on "The Daily Show." Is Jon Stewart fair to Republicans?

MCCAIN: No. But he, you know, doesn't matter really. He's a comedian and he's --

KURTZ: He's also a social critical who has a sizable following among young people.

MCCAIN: Oh, yes. Listen, he's a very entertaining and funny guy. But you know, when he says things -- which he's entitled to, after all. He's a late night comic -- that are absolutely wrong, he gets away with it, you know, it is what it is. I frankly have no beef with late night comedians who make fun of politicians. That's the nature --

KURTZ: You're a big target.

MCCAIN: -- of the businesses.

KURTZ: You and your colleagues.

MCCAIN: I do resent when respected commentators, who are columnists, particularly, say things that are absolutely contradicted by the facts like, oh, well, we wanted to leave a force behind in Iraq, but Iraqis wouldn't take it. That's just wrong.

KURTZ: When you ran for president in 2000, and I spent a lot of hours on the bus with you, you spent hours and hours and hours talking to reporters and you were kind of a media darling. When you ran in 2008, you had a more contentious relationship with the press, and eventually you didn't offer that kind of access. What changed?

MCCAIN: Everybody has their own version of events, but unfortunately at least in my view and those people around me, it became a rather adversarial relationship, and it's very unfortunate.

KURTZ: More of a gotcha relationship?

MCCAIN: Yes. You know, I mean, you know, I guess kind of a classic example was I was being interviewed and the guy said how many houses do you own? You know, I don't own any houses. That's not mine. But --

KURTZ: You were saying it's your wife's?

MCCAIN: Yes. Yes. But the point is, it was not a -- many of the comments that I made in the context of the long conversation, if you took a sentence out, you could have it be critical. Well, that was happening to us more and more, and, frankly, one of the real disappointments to me, and I'll take the blame for it, is the deterioration of a relationship that wasn't that we were so much friends. That's -- you know, that's but that we had kind of an open relationship. And the more time I was able to spend with the meeting, the more I was able to make them understand exactly where I was coming from. Well, we lost that during the 2008 campaign.

KURTZ: During the Bush years, you were so frequently described as a maverick, I think it was kind of attached to your name on the computer. But then after president Obama won, you were a grumpy old man, you were a sore loser. What did you make of that tonal shift?

MCCAIN: I found it fascinating. Because when I came out and said that Donald Rumsfeld has to resign, that the Iraq war is failing, he's a grumpy old man. When I say that the president has to replace his national security team, excuse me, when I said Donald Rumsfeld has to be -- here is the brave maverick standing up against his own party. When I say that the national security team is not serving this president well, he's the grumpy old man.

KURTZ: And - everybody is on Twitter ten seconds later saying McCain said this and taking shots at you.

MCCAIN: But at the same time, you've got to have the maturity to recognize that that's the nature of the business we were in. I will freely admit to you that years ago I used to get a lot more angry than I do today. I'm still not happy when I see myself ...

KURTZ: John McCain admitting that he got angry?


KURTZ: Here's the headline. But you're suggesting you've mellowed a bit in that regard?

MCCAIN: I think so. But I haven't lost my fire, I hope. But at the same time, I've tried harder and harder to understand that these things are going to happen. But am I completely immune to being unhappy about it? Hell, no.



KURTZ: A post script in a moment. The Arizona senator says the press botched the tale of his calling two fellow Republicans wacko birds. And later, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie wind up shooting the breeze with Howard Stern?


KURTZ: More now of my conversation with John McCain.


KURTZ: Everyone in Washington remembers that you called Ted Cruz and Rand Paul wacko birds. But the fool quote to help you - is kind of interesting. "It's always the wacko birds on the right and left that get the media megaphone." Why so?

MCCAIN: Oh, I think the colorful aspects of it. But again, you know, you were talking about the problem I have. I was reading from a "Wall Street Journal" editorial. That was what was in the editorial on the floor of the Senate. And I apologized to both Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Now, are you ever going to see a rendition of John McCain calling them wacko birds reading from an editorial and having to apologize? No, nine times out of ten, not ...

KURTZ: It's just too colorful.

MCCAIN: You just kind of made my point.

KURTZ: Your daughter, Megan, was on "The View" and I'm not making this up. She was talking about your wife's butt. There's talk that she might end up on "The View" an a permanent panelist. How do you feel about her career eclipsing yours?

MCCAIN: I think I'm very proud of Megan. And we do have our disagreement, she's of a different generation. But our discussions- she's a little fiery, too. And we have very vigorous discussions. But I think it's good for me, particularly, more so than for her because I learn what people of her generation are thinking, what their priorities are, and I think it makes me a better senator.

KURTZ: Senator McCain, thanks very much for joining us.

MCCAIN: Thanks, Howie.


KURTZ: After the break, one CNBC hot shot accuses another of being wrong about just about everything. And the today show stars on the hot seat with Howard Stern on video verdict. It's straight ahead.


KURTZ: Time now for our video verdict. Rick Santelli whose rant on CNBC helped kick off a Tea Party movement, ran into a very loud critic this week. One of his colleagues at the business channel.

ASHBURN: Steve Liesman, CNBC senior economics reporter basically told Santelli that he didn't know what he was talking about and the footage of their fisticuffs quickly went viral.



STEVE LIESMAN, CNBC SENIOR ECONOMIC REPORTER: Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick. Lost people money, Rick. Every single bit of advice.

RICK SANTELLI: New strategy.

LIESMAN: There is no piece of advice that you've given that's worked.

SANTELLI: They need a better strategy than the caps. Wait until the next year, isn't the way ...

LIESMAN: There's no piece of advice that you've given that's working. Not a single one.

SANTELLI: Oh, yeah, there is.

LIESMAN: Not a single one, Rick.

SANTELLI: To do our job or his job.

LIESMAN: Not a single one. The higher interest rates never came ...


LIESMAN: The inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened, the dollar never crashed, Rick, there isn't a single one that's worked for you.


ASHBURN: My head hurts! Could you even understand a word of what they were saying? This is obviously some sort of stunt or ploy on behalf of the economics reporter to bait him.

KURTZ: I think Steve Liesman did a good job, I don't think it was a stunt that all these two guys passionately and vigorously disagreeing about economic policy. But I thought that Rick Santelli was going to be carried out from the Chicago trading floor if he got any more hyper exercise.

ASHBURN: But he was attacking him, attacking him for really ...



KURTZ: What's your score?

ASHBURN: I'm giving it a three. I didn't - I didn't care for it.

KURTZ: I'm giving it a 9.

ASHBURN: What? Sorry. I didn't know that ahead of time.

All right the "Today" show is being simulcast on Sirius XM radio, so for what can only be cross-promotion reasons. Matt Lauer and Samantha Guthrie showed up in the studio of Howard Stern.

KURTZ: The king of all media had a little fun Samantha's pregnancy and Lauer's latest on air stunt, while also sticking in a serious question about morning TV.


HOWARD STERN: Samantha, what do you imagine would be your worst nightmare about being here? What could go wrong?

SAMANTHA GUTHRIE: Well, we could be talking about all kinds of things that I just ...

STERN: Sexual things?

GUTHRIE: Definitely, frankly, anything related to the bathroom, you know, bathroom humor.

STERN: Anything? What happened to morning television? I mean Matt loves - I am friends with Matt, we love to discuss politics. We love to talk about what's going on in the world. And now for crash rating is - Matt should be doused in cold water. I mean - it sounds horrible.

Now, what's part of the 8:00 hour, in the seven o'clock hour we still do - cover the news of the day.


ASHBURN: OK, first of all, I have to quibble with what you called Howard Stern, the king of all media. He may be the king of all raunchy media. But I don't quite agree with that. And ...

KURTZ: Hold on, hold on. You have a 20-year old conception of Howard Stern. He's one of the best interviewers.

ASHBURN: I agree he's a good - I agree he's a good interviewer.

KURTZ: Anderson Cooper and Dan Rather. ASHBURN: I agree he's a good interview, but he also talks about really gross things. OK, so, anyway ...

KURTZ: Like getting doused with cold water?

ASHBURN: That's not gross. It's just - it may be the trend of morning television.

KURTZ: Well, I think this wasn't wild. He's much more phony. He talks about getting drunk with Matt Lauer.

ASHBURN: Well, or other things. Anyway, I give it a five. I think Savannah handled herself beautifully.

KURTZ: I agree with that. And I'm giving it an eight.

Still to come, your best tweets and John Stewart hits now on Hillary Clinton. May, what a love fest.


JON STEWART: And while reasoned and eyewitness view to the history of those four years and I think I speak for everybody when I say no one cares, they just want to know if you're running for president.




KURTZ: Here are a few of your top tweets. I asked you to rate the covets of the plane shoot down in Ukraine. A.J. Delgado, "Too much speculation early on. News Business for FACTS, not theories, but the amount of coverage has been just right." Mary Watson "Takes away coverage of all those illegals. Strange how we go from one crisis for another under Obama." Ana Androde, "Too much coverage is being used as propaganda for a new Cold War campaign."

Ivey McClelland, "Accurate, but overblown, natural news being pushed aside. Starting to border on speculation and punditry.

ASHBURN: I think we are starting to come down. I think you are starting to see other stories bubble into cable, definitely on Network News.

KURTZ: I predict that on television in this place - there will be just as big for the next week at least.

ASHBURN: Well, I don't agree.

KURTZ: Not saying you should be, I believe it will be.

Now, there were plenty of light moments, in fact it was almost all light moments when Hillary Clinton dropped by to chat with Jon Stewart. Let's just say it wasn't an interrogation.


JON STEWART, "DAILY SHOW": If you were not, I think, running for president, all of this criticism, I truly believe this. There's two books out now that are exposes of you and the family and all that. There is constant calls for testimony, there are constant parsing of words ...


STEWART: If you stop that tomorrow, if you said, I'm not running for president, it all stops. Do you agree or disagree?

HILLARY CLINTON: I think a lot of people would lose their jobs if it all stopped.

STEWART: We are just these talking heads, sitting around, picking out every little thing and making fun of it. I mean it's just - It's not right.




HILLARY CLINTON: Could I say that I agree with you completely?


KURTZ: And Lauren I argued about this on the "O'Reilly Factor."


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Was it instructive? Was it informative? What was it?

ASHBURN: I think he asked her a lot of softball questions.

O'REILLY: Did he?

ASHBURN: I think she got away with a lot of stuff.

KURTZ: When he has conservative guests, and he manages to skewer them with humor.

When he asks somebody like Hillary Clinton, it is a kissy face ...

O'REILLY: He's gentle.


ASHBURN: Thanks for - you come up with that word. Look, he's a comedian, I get it. He says he's a comedian, so I don't think he needs to be held to that standard, Howie.

KURTZ: This is such a cover story. He's a very talented satirist who is also a social critic, but if you call him on imbalance, ideologically, you are kind of liberal, oh ...

ASHBURN: He goes after Jen Psaki, he goes after Kathleen Sebelius.

KURTZ: Very rare occasions.

Well, did you think that he went after Hillary Clinton in any way, shape or form?

ASHBURN: No, and I'm not saying he went after Hillary Clinton, I'm saying he has the capability of doing it. And yes, he let her get away with a lot of stuff.

KURTZ: I'm glad your cast is off, so you can't - wait a minute.

ASHBURN: Yeah, I can't still whack you, don't worry.

KURTZ: That's it for this edition of MEDIA BUZZ. I'm Howard Kurtz. Send me an e-mail. Go to our Facebook page and give us - post or visual video there. We respond to your questions. We're back here next Sunday morning, 11 to 5 Eastern with the latest buzz.

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