The media's antiwar forces; media crusade against NFL

Opposing Obama airstrikes against ISIS


This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," September 21, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, as President Obama defends his airstrikes against ISIS, an anti-war contingent is emerging in the media. Worrying we have been drawn into another Mideast conflict worrying that the terrorist threat is being oversold.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, "HARDBALL" HOST: Let me start tonight with what's on all of our minds right now, this wild, angry push for war, another one in the land of Islam. Here we go again, going in with all the field marshals of the op-ed pages urging us on.


KURTZ: Others pushing for more aggressive actions saying Obama's plan can't work with air power alone.


BILL O'REILLY, "O'REILLY FACTOR" HOST: The president knows that, but he's afraid to tell the American people the truth. Sooner or later, U.S. ground forces will have to engage ISIS.


KURTZ: Are the anti-war commentators acting out of ideology, or given our bloody history in Iraq, are they actually sparking a healthy media debate?

Some pundits on a crusade against the NFL in the wake of the Ray Rice fiasco. And now the belated benching of more players and Commissioner Roger Goodell telling the press he's sorry.


HANNAH STORM, "SPORTS CENTER" ANCHOR: What exactly does zero tolerance mean to the NFL? Will the NFL in all its powers take the lead on the issue of domestic violence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If any of these victims had been someone you love, would you be satisfied with the way the league has handled this crisis?

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: I'm not satisfied with the way we handled it from the get-go. I made a mistake.


KURTZ: And are the media putting a whole league on trial for the transgressions of a few?

Plus some lousy reviews for the new lineup at "The View."


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW" COHOST: Let me ask you about, you know .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Yeah. You can say it without laughing.

GOLDBERG: Sarah Palin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When did you want to just pop her?





KURTZ: Can Rosy and former Bush aide Nicolle Wallace and the gang make this work?

I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz." The media debate over ISIS took a new turn after Joint Chief Chairman Martin Dempsey told Congress that the if the President Obama strategy fails, he would recommend the use of ground troops against ISIS. Some pundits pounced on the contrast with the president, others calling the whole thing overblown.


SEAN HANNITY, "HANNITY HOST": In other words, the commander in chief is blatantly handcuffing those militarily leaders and is jeopardizing this mission in its entirety.

RACHEL MADDOW, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" HOST: Can I just point out for a second how ridiculous the beltway press is when they report on stuff like this? That is not a scandal. Because we have this notable and important thing in this country, in which the guys in uniforms, no matter how many medals and stars and fancy hats and all those things that they have, they do not get to decide whether or how the United States conducts a war.


KURTZ: And more voices in the media challenging the war strategy or flat out opposing it.


KRYSTAL BALL, "THECYCLE" CO-HOST: Let's just be totally clear. We are committing to a military conflict in Iraq and Syria. That may involve U.S. troops on the ground and already involves a few, just like you can't be half pregnant, there's no such thing as a little bit of war.


KURTZ: Joining us now, James Rosen, chief Washington correspondent for Fox News. Mary Katharine Ham, editor-at-large of "Hot Air" and a Fox News contributor and Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, also a Fox News contributor. James Rosen, what do you make of the volume of anti-war voices emerging in the media right now?

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The question, Howie, that is properly raised here is whether the voices that are presently emitting some kind of anti-war sentiment in response to this fairly circumscribed military operation the president has announced are the kind of voices, from which, with respect to almost any military operation we should expect to hear a hearty hooa (ph). You know, we're talking about Rachel Maddow, for example who in the clip you just played, I think displayed a kind of innate and unyielding hostility to the military with her references to medals and stars and fancy hats. I mean I think that was really condescending. Chris Matthews, if only for his adulation of John F. Kennedy might be considered a tad more hawkish then the likes of Rachel Maddow or Dennis Kucinich or Bill Maher, but I also think that we ought to consider that some of what we are seeing as anti-war sentiment right now in some cases that - may actually just be an expression of displeasure with the sort of disjointed way in which this administration has defined and addressed this threat.

KURTZ: What strikes me, Mary Catherine, is the fact that many of these people - and others we could have shown are basically on the left and ordinarily would be supporters of Barack Obama.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, HOT AIR: Well, sure. I think they're torn because ideologically they are maybe not in favor of jumping in in the Middle East once again. And I think there is a bit of reflection in the press of a war weariness in general with the American public. They are getting slightly more hawkish as we see the horrors of ISIS, and then I think it is also a reflection of the fact that the press is reporting on contradictions because there are major contradictions in how the administration has rolled this out, how they explain it and where they draw lines. And I think that actually is something we should be discussing.

KURTZ: Right. And when it comes to conservatives I mean many of them actually favor the direction in which President Obama is moving. This for military action. But they're still piling on the criticism it's not enough. He's not aggressive enough. He should have done this sooner.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yeah. And as one Republican in Congress said something like we like the way the strategy is going. But if it doesn't (ph) go bad, we can blame him or if it goes fine, we can say what took you so long. So, I mean that's - the Republicans are in the sweet spot on that.


KURTZ: Both ways.

LIASSON: Yeah. Yeah. But the thing that is also happening this week, one of the kind of threads was saying, ah-ha, you said there were not going to be any boots on the ground, but there already are. Dempsey said maybe they'll need more. And I think the question is, we have a public opinion right now that is for this. The war-weary public flipped when they saw the beheadings.

KURTZ: Well, they've also flipped in part because of the heavy media coverage .


KURTZ: . of the ISIS threat, which some people think is overstated, some people think it's understated.

LIASSON: Well, you can- (INAUDIBLE) things on YouTube. The media then have to cover them. They are there everywhere.

KURTZ: Right.

LIASSON: You know, but I do think the media is holding the White House to what it calls a high semantic standard. You know, you say there's not going to be a combat mission. What exactly does that mean? They're almost 2,000 advisors there now, are they - they are going to be armed, they're going to have boots on, they're going to be on the ground and they might be accompanying Iraqi forces up to the front lines at some point. Does that mean they're engaged in combat? But the bigger question is, at what point does it become too much of that for the American public to support?

KURTZ: Right. I want to come back a little later to the semantic questions. But as our resident historian James, how would you compare the media opposition to this war with the outright skepticism that the press showing and being very - I'm sorry, the skepticism is now but the passivity that the pretty showed 11 years ago during the run up to the Iraq war?

ROSEN: I think that there's a lot of mythology about the prewar period a little over decade ago during the Bush Cheney administration. One of those myths is this idea that the press was in fact passive at the time in questioning the White House and the war aims in Iraq. I was in that briefing room during the first Bush term, in the White House James Brady briefing room alongside people like Terry Moran and David Gregory and the other White House correspondents at that time. And I can say, from firsthand experience, that the question is being put to Ari Fleisher at the time, we are very probing about the WMD situation in Iraq, the war aims, the occupation that was to ensue, I think if you go back and you look at those transcripts and briefings, you'll see a very engaged press.

KURTZ: That might have been true within the briefing room. If you look at the overall tone of the coverage, and I wrote a lengthy story about how in "The Washington Post" a few voices that were skeptical of the strategy that wouldn't be a cake walk, those stories were delayed, they were buried in some cases, they were spiked. But maybe that should tell us and you - touch on this, Mary Katharine, that this debate now is healthy.

HAM: Well, I think myth or not, I think there is some reaction of the press core to that standing.


HAM: Narrative about the Iraq war.


HAM: Right.

KURTZ: Press feels they didn't do its job.

HAM: And I do think also when a president, as commander -in-chief, and we have this line where we, you know, leave politics at the water's edge, that the press is more likely to be a bit more dutiful when that president is making an argument clearly in being very strong about it and the American people are moving with him. In this case, I think you're not seeing that clarity in the strength of the message in the same way maybe you saw it with Iraq. But I think a year ago in Syria, there did feel like it was the press almost pushing for this action at that time, as well. And that felt like a reflection of that same - that same .

KURTZ: Right. This time around, it seems like the drum beat was coming from the media, and the president, a reluctant warrior, to put it diplomatically. But in 2002, 2003, there was the sense that if you opposed what was a very strong drive for war by George W. Bush administration, that you were almost unpatriotic. And I don't see that now.

LIASSON: Yeah. No. I think things changed. Look, having Americans beheaded on camera is really powerful and it really changed things. I don't think the president would be doing this without the kind of support he's getting from the public. Don't forget, one year ago, he almost struck the Syrian government, it was for a different reason, it was because Assad was using chemical weapons, and he didn't, because the public were against it and he would have lost a vote in Congress.

KURTZ: Are you .


LIASSON: Yeah. Yeah.

HAM: That's one thing - the strategy seems to be dictated by what the American people will allow, which - and there's some merit to that. But .

KURTZ: Because it's hard to fight a war without public support.

HAM: Right. But there's a sense, I think, from the press that like - when there is not this pitch that is clear and strong, that there are more questions. And that's .

LIASSON: I disagree with that. I think the president has talked a lot about this. He's been out there talking a lot about this. Now, there are .

HAM: He's talking a lot, but I think the strategy comes from public opinion as opposed to a strategy to win. And I think that's the sense .

LIASSON: Well, yeah, although I think that the reason they changed this, the public wasn't clamoring for this. The public is merely supporting it.

KURTZ: Well, some in the media, I think, have at least been pushing for it. Let's come back to this question of semantics. Because you were somebody, and everybody saw the videotape, who pressed the State Department, why aren't you using the word war? First they were, now they are kind of, sort of. But also on this question of ground troops, there seems to be confusion in the media or a debate in the media, are ground troops impossible, unlikely or inevitable?

ROSEN: Look in any organization, Howie, where there's a kind of a pyramidal structure. Where one person sits at the top.

KURTZ: Let me - pyramidal structure, looks something like this?

ROSEN: Yes, like a triangle on its face and the president is that figure in this instance, in this administration.

KURTZ: Right.

ROSEN: That lack of coherence about this mission in the terminology, in the war aims itself, sometimes down even to the geography where it's going to be carried out, that confusion emanates from the top. It is permeated from this leader down into the various constituent officers who are doing the talking.

KURTZ: Are the media right to focus on this apparent disconnect between the president and some of his generals and his retired generals who fill the airways, about not ruling out ground troops because there is a drum beat, and I've heard a lot on Fox, why isn't he listening to the generals?

HAM: Well, I think that is a question. How are they coming to this decisions? There's also a question of I think people don't want to discount that there's anyone in danger. Like this idea that this political line of no boots on the ground means there's actually no people on the ground, is not the fact, and we should not discount the fact that Americans are going to be in danger regardless of that. So, I think that's some of what people are trying to understand.

KURTZ: But is the press correct to say, to suggest that somehow the president is not doing the right thing because he's not listening to his generals? I mean after all, George W. Bush fired one of his generals, Eric Shinseki because - well, Eric Shinseki was gone after saying they were behind - thousand of troops this was in Iraq. And even Lincoln changed generals.

HAM: Again, there's some reaction to the Bush years, I think, in what you're seeing about this coverage. But I think there's also a genuine question about where this strategy has come from, why it was formed and was it formed because of public opinion or because of the generals.

LIASSON: I think it was formed because they realized that ISIS was a real threat. Their assessment of ISIS changed from the jayvee team to a group that was heavily armed, took tremendous territory and have tremendous amounts of money.

KURTZ: But let's - on how you weigh on this question of, is it inherently suspect to the media raiding all kinds of alarms that the president may differ with what his general is saying? Because the militarily often wants more, more, more.

LIASSON: I think it's fine to raise it, but it's important to put it in historical context because it has always happened, as you just pointed out.


LIASSON: Throughout history that has been the case. There have been differences between the president and his general.

KURTZ: It's OK. We have got to go, but can you repeat that?

HAM: (INAUDIBLE) and I agree with you about the way she phrased that. It's right that they have a right to differ and that the president can make that decision.

ROSEN: So, let the record reflect, Ladies and Gentlemen, that Howard Kurtz just likened George W. Bush to Abraham Lincoln.


KURTZ: There were separate paragraphs. All right, send me a tweet about our show this hour at Howard Kurtz. As you know, we always read the best ones at the end of the program. Ahead, are the media now trying to damage the National Football League over domestic violence? But when we come back, an extremely harsh Politico piece paints Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as being in deep trouble as the NC Chairman. Is the White House using the press to tarnish her?



DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Scott Walker has given women the back of his hands. What Republican Tea Party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they're grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.


KURTZ: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Democratic Party Chair later apologized for those comments about Wisconsin's governor. She's the subject of a very tough piece in Politico saying the White House and congressional Democrats have lost confidence in her. And that she's a liability to the DNC. Now, when you have anecdotes like Wasserman Schultz insisting that her wardrobe at the Democratic convention be paid for, which she denies - that's coming from some insiders. This is a hit peace?

HAM: Yeah, a lot of the anecdotes were cringe worthy. I think this is partly triggered by that comment she made about Scott Walker which truly was, even with the low bar of political rhetoric was really, really, really nasty. And I think undermined what is supposed to be her strength, which is to appeal to women voters. And in that case in Wisconsin, it turns that situation into something that worked for Scott Walker. And so I think that's where some of this is coming from. It also feels cyclical. It happened every couple of years that people get upset with Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And there's a little bit of the politically painting themselves in the corner, where getting rid of a woman in the DNC doesn't help that narrative.

KURTZ: This speech, Mara, that she really talks to President Obama, she's more interesting in building her own career. Did this have a whiff of the White House or her critics using Politico?

LIASSON: There are a lot of critics and they all willingly cooperated. But this is a classic Politico piece tome. I think it was nine pages long. And yes, it was a hit piece, but it was a well-reported hit piece with lots of cooperation from other sources who didn't like her. But in a bigger picture, does anybody in the country care about whether the DNC chairman is on the outs? This is a true inside the beltway story. Now, it's a spectacle to see her, you know, criticized like this over and over again in print. And she probably is on the way out. But I don't think before Politico, there would have been a time when we would have seen this kind of piece, this long, this lengthy. She didn't do anything that was super controversial. Yes, some of the comments were over the line, but mostly, people don't like her.

KURTZ: Is it fair or unfair?

ROSEN: I think that this is the kind of piece with which post-Watergate, we are all well familiar now. It's the (INAUDIBLE) piece, the chief and immediate effect of which is to make it such that the person being reported on across all media outlets thereafter is described as embattled.


ROSEN: I would say- though I thought it was a pretty fair piece. It was 1700 words long, if you look at the actual number of quotes in the piece, they are evenly distributed between on the record quotes and blind anonymous quotes. The very - the lead quote, in fact, is attributed to an actual person, a big Democratic person from DWS home state of Florida. The only real problem I had with the piece was the lead. The actual lead says DWS is in behind the scenes struggled with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both the unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most, period. There is no sourcing there. It should say critics say and in fact, it's not until the third and fourth graphs that you have those words, critics say.

HAM: I also don't like the leading anecdote is the wardrobe one which I think draws this line to the Sarah Palin story, specifically is used for women candidate, and she denied it. I would have put something a little higher than that.

KURTZ: The reason I thought it was basically fair is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was interviewed for the piece, she had a chance to respond, and there were no disparaging blind quotes, like she is an idiot, or we want to get rid of her, but on the other hand, president can get rid of his DNC chairman at any time.

HAM: Yeah.

KURTZ: Doing it through the press felt harsh. Mara Liasson and James Rosen, Mary Katharine Ham, thanks very much for stopping by.

One other item before we go to break, New York's WNBC reported the other day that a federal probe had found no evidence so far that Chris Christie knew in advance about the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. NBC anchor Brian Williams described the story this way.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: The headlines here, however, the federal charges are now ruled out for Chris Christie and the affair that came to be known as Bridgegate.


KURTZ: Ouch. NBC Nightly News had to run a correction because the federal investigation is still ongoing. By the way, if Christie is vindicated, I wonder if the mainstream media will devote as much attention to that as to the original drum beat of allegations.

Coming up, "THE VIEW" gets a conservative panelists, but is Nicolle Wallace any match for Rosie O'Donnell?

And up next, the NFL's domestic abuse scandals, are the media just going overboard?


KURTZ: The media explosion over Ray Rice and that awful video has become something much, much bigger. It's not just a sharper focus on a slew of other abusive players or tough questions Friday for Commissioner Roger Goodell. It's more that anchors and commentators are speaking out almost launching a crusade against the National Football League and its fans.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, "MORNING JOE" HOST: Moms out there with kids who are making decisions on what their kids are going to do on Sunday afternoon are going to make a decision. It's not going to be to sit there and watch a lot of people that beat up and rape women and beat the hell out of their kids because they're amped up.

STORM: What does it mean for female fans whose dollars are so coveted by the NFL, who make up an estimated 45 percent of the NFL's fan base? Are fans and our families, are we as parents supposed to compartmentalize everything that's happening? Are we supposed to simply separate a violent game on the field from violent acts off the field as we all wait on the answer to this central question? What exactly does the NFL stand for?


KURTZ: Joining us now from New York, Joe Concha, a columnist for Mediaite and Marisa Guthrie of "The Hollywood Reporter." Joe, you are right, that NFL bashing is part of the media's fall outrage industry. How do you not see that in this case at least that revulsion is not just genuine, but pretty deep seeded?

JOE CONCHA, TV COLUMNIST FOR MEDIAITE.COM : I think it's genuine, Howie, but I think it reaches a certain point, you know. All we heard this week and the previous week was about this being a tipping point for the NFL, that Roger Goodell cannot survive this, that he needs to be terminated or should step down. And then I look at the business side, Howie, I looked what happens on Sundays. I see Sunday nights telecast last week, NBC, this - the featured NFL game at a three-year high in terms of ratings. I see an NBC poll that says nine in ten Americans will not watch one minute less of the NFL. So while they may be shocked, and they may dismayed, may be dismayed, on Sundays, Howie, they're not tuning out, that's not affecting the business, therefore, the NFL goes on and goes upwards.

KURTZ: Yeah, OK, I agree with you that the NFL is a juggernaut and this is not taking it down. But you look at these recent instances involving some of these other players, Jonathan Dwyer of the Arizona Cardinals, sidelined for head-butting his wife and breaking her nose.


KURTZ: Greg Hardy, the Carolina Panthers, he was going to play, he was convicted of choking and threatening a girlfriend, and the Minnesota Vikings, the child abuse case Adrian Peterson, suddenly these people are being sidelined and not continuing to play, and Marisa, what's interesting to me is that commentators on NBC, CBS, ESPN, these networks who have huge deals with the NFL, as does Fox, they're talking about the violence of the game and the behavior of the sponsors.

MARISA GUTHRIE, TV EDITOR, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: It's opened the flood gates to that discussion. And personally, I think that's a good thing because I think for too long, the NFL has turned a blind eye to the criminal -- sometimes criminal off field behavior of its players. Because they've invested millions in these guys and they want them on the field.

But that .

KURTZ: And have the media also been guilty of, just kind of - especially at the national level, not really focusing on the fact that you got people being convicted, and yet they're out on the field that Sunday?

GUTHRIE: I think some of -- yes, in part. But I think that the media has also -- some parts of the media have scrutinized the NFL. I mean if you look at the ESPN, they don't get a lot of credit for a lot of their investigations because they have a $15 billion deal with the NFL. But they're the ones who, on Friday, released this smoking gun story about who knew what when about the Ray Rice video. So I think the reason this has spurred so much outrage is because, for years, the NFL has turned a blind eye to this behavior. And now it's exploded in all of its graphic detail in that horrible video.

CONCHA: And Howie .

KURTZ: That ESPN story, let me just - let me just fill in people who haven't seen it. It was an extraordinary bit of reporting, that basically accused the Baltimore Ravens of the cover-up, saying the team knew within hours that there was an elevator video from the casino showing Ray Rice punching his wife. But go ahead, Joe.

CONCHA: Well, I was about to say, great work by ESPN, but they're also hypocritical in certain instances as well, Howie. I wrote earlier this week about Hope Solo. She's the U.S. women soccer goalie. She has been since Bill Clinton was president. She's won two gold medals, she's arguably the most popular female athlete in the country right now. And on ESPN on Thursday night, there's Hope Solo playing. Now, why does that matter? Well, she's up on two counts of domestic abuse charges. One against her teenage nephew. Yet she has a trial in November. She continues to play. I don't hear Hannah Storm, I don't hear ESPN doing too many exposes on Hope Solo, because maybe she's a woman, maybe it's soccer and it's not as popular, but it's just as important and I think this has become too much of a - this is an NFL problem instead of this is an epidemic that happens across all industries, all genders, and even soccer, Howie.


KURTZ: Let me just say. I like football. I like watching football. I grew up playing football in the street, Marisa. But I think it's been appalling what the National Football League has done, not that we should hold the NFL to a higher standard, but they should hold it to some decent standard of behavior for players who this kind of thing off the field. And I think this is no longer a news story. I think this has become a cultural moment. I think everyone in America is now talking about this. Your thoughts?

GUTHRIE: Exactly. And I think that everybody realizes that the NFL has been irresponsible in how they have dealt with all of this. And they've allowed these guys to continue to rake in millions in endorsements by making sure that this stuff stays quiet. And tamping down any discussion about it. Now, here we are, engaged in a national debate about domestic violence and child abuse. And nobody, I think, it strains credulity to think that the NFL couldn't have gotten its hands on that video if Ray Rice's own attorney had it hours after it happened.


GUTHRIE: And TMZ got it.

KURTZ: Exactly.

GUTHRIE: With one phone call. So .

KURTZ: I've never seen - didn't mean to cut you, I've never seen the kind of hammering that Goodell took on that Friday news conference that .

CONCHA: Oh, I have, Howie.

KURTZ: Yeah?

CONCHA: Yeah, Chris Christie back in January.

GUTHRIE: But he didn't answer any questions. He didn't answer any questions. And I think that .

CONCHA: He's deflected a lot.

GUTHRIE: He deflected, he obfuscated. And I think that that in the end that's going to - that will spur more of these questions.

KURTZ: Right. I meant --

GUTHRIE: He created more questions than he answered.

KURTZ: Joe, you got half a minute. I mean it seems like you're more interested in focusing on the excess of the media and we're always guilty of excesses than the belated effort to hold this league accountable.

CONCHA: Yes, you hold them accountable, Howie, I agree. No one is saying that domestic abuse, that child abuse is not an epidemic in this country. All I'm saying is that Saturday night, yes, this is debate around dinner tables. But on Sunday, I'm telling you, at 1:00 today, people are going to put all that aside because they simply want their football. The media thinks that we care more about character than we actually do when it comes to this sport. And we're selfish about it. We center our phantasy lineups. We enter our office pools and we forget about it from 1:00 today until 11:00 tonight. That's just how it is. I'm sorry.

KURTZ: Sounds like you have got it.


KURTZ: Fantasy Lineup. All right, coming up "The View" is back with a new lineup that seems to be dominated by Rosie O'Donnell. And later, another female anchor speaking out about getting beat up by a boyfriend.


ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Live from America's news headquarters, I'm Eric Shawn. Two security incidents at the White House in less than 24 hours. The Secret Service arresting a man who refused to leave after driving up to a White House gate. They say the man was charged with unlawful entry. This, of course, coming after that brazen breach on Friday when a man jumped the fence, bolted across the front lawn and made it all the way to the front doors. The Secret Service is reviewing its security policies.

In California, four out of those five inmates who escaped from the county jail, considered armed and dangerous, who are now back behind bars. Authorities say they were caught within 24 hours of that jail break. The fifth inmate, a 29-year-old Raul Flores remains on the run. There is not yet clear how they all managed to escape. I'm Eric Shawn. I'll see you at the top of the hour with Arthel Neville for America's News Headquarters. Now back to a "MediaBuzz" and Howard Kurtz.


KURTZ: "The View" kicked off its season this week with a new lineup, it includes Rosie O'Donnell, actress Rosie Perez and a former Bush White House official Nicolle Wallace. But does that work?


NICOLLE WALLACE, "THE VIEW" CO-HOST: So Biden has an easier time with Congress because I think Joe Biden genuinely loves people. And I think he and his wife from .

ROSIE O'DONNELL, "THE VIEW" CO-HOST: So, are you implying that Obama doesn't?


O'DONNELL: He doesn't love people?

WALLACE: I don't think so.

O'DONNELL: Oh, that's .


WALLACE: I mean, I think he loves you people.


KURTZ: Marisa Guthrie, what do you make of this new lineup?


GUTHRIE: Well, I think Rosie has been on her best behavior for her. It's only been a week.


GUTHRIE: So, I think we'll see her become more strident and I think Nicolle, although she's -- I think Nicolle is still getting used to this situation, she will become more assertive. And I'm sure we'll see some more fireworks, much more -- much hotter than what we just saw there. But I do think that everybody sort of needs to adjust and Rosie will, you know, take the gloves off. Rosie O'Donnell, that is.

CONCHA: You are going to get your Rosies correct. And look, Howie, sequels hardly ever work. I'll give you three examples where they have. It worked with the "Godfather 2", it worked with the "Empire Strikes Back" and it worked with "The Batman," with the Joker, which was called "The Dark Knight." Otherwise, thousands of other sequels never work. Let's face it. Rosie O'Donnell is the face of this show. And her being back there, I don't feel any chemistry. I think Nicolle Wallace, as she was one of my original picks, actually, it was her, S. E. Cupp, or Ann Coulter. Upon watching this for a week, I think Coulter would have been the much better bet. Because Nicolle Wallace is a sheep. You know what happens to sheep, Howie? They get slaughtered. And that's what happened to her this week. And I just don't feel it this time around. And I know the debut ratings were very good. They are at an eight-year high, but I didn't see any ratings released since that debut. Just like "Meet the Press" that went to third place last week after being first in (INAUDIBLE). I have a feeling when we see those second and third day ratings, we're going to see it right back where they were before Rosie and Rosie and Whoopi came back.

KURTZ: Well, that strikes me as a harsh description of the very savvy and smart Nicolle Wallace who worked on the McCain campaign, was the Bush White House .

CONCHA: She is.


KURTZ: Let me go to Marisa. But it's an unusual pick to take a political operative and put that person on daytime TV, Marisa.


GUTHRIE: It is. But I think that they needed somebody with some credibility. They needed somebody who really could give it back. And I think Nicolle, you know, she's a strong woman. And she's very smart. She knows what she's talking about. She's not going to get caught saying something wrong or stupid. And so I think actually, you know, I mean, Ann Coulter -- I would have loved to see Ann Coulter and Rosie O'Donnell, personally.

KURTZ: All right. Gotta go.


GUTHRIE: But I think that - but I think that Nicolle will eventually get used to it and she'll .

KURTZ: OK, well, certainly "The View" needed a conservative.


KURTZ: Which it didn't have last season.


KURTZ: All right, Marisa Guthrie and Joe Concha, thanks very much.

CONCHA: Thanks.

Clarification, earlier I talked about General Eric Shinseki being dismissed or forced out because of his criticism of the Iraq war plans. He served out his term. A lot of critics thought he was kind of pushed into early retirement. And that clarifying, no.

Ahead, lots of anchors dancing around Rihanna dropping the F-bomb online, but first, Sean Hannity says the Republicans are failing to push a positive agenda. Does the press really care about issues? Midterm media madness is straight ahead.


KURTZ: As Republicans keep pounding President Obama over the ISIS terrorist, is that drowning out issues that might help the Democrats? And is it true, as one Fox News host says that the GOP isn't running on a positive agenda?


SEAN HANNITY, "HANNITY" HOST: I'm mad at Republicans. They should say elect us and we'll do these five things?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Here's the problem. How are they supposed to speak to the mainstream media? How are they supposed to speak directly to voters?

HANNITY: Frank, that's an excuse. I'm not buying that.


KURTZ: Joining us now, Bob Cusack, editor-in-chief of "The Hill" and Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner." Susan, does it matter if the media are covering a positive Republican agenda in these midterms?

SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINIER: Oh, absolutely. Everyone has said, rightfully so, that Republicans need to say, here is what we're going to do because the public really has no idea. Congress has a very low approval rating. Certainly I think the point that was just being made on Hannity is a good one. You don't see a lot of stories written about what the Republican agenda is going to be. You hear a lot about the negativity. Going back and force between the two parties, but no one is talking about what their agenda is. I know from on Capitol Hill, on that this press conference with reporters and I hear them talking about their agenda at the top of every press conference. But by the end of this press conference, the questions aren't about the agenda. The questions are about Social Security, fighting with the Democrats, issues that are more interesting.

KURTZ: So, Bob, it sounds like they are talking about it a little bit.


KURTZ: But it doesn't - gets through the media filter because it's so much more exciting to cover an attack on the president, or, you know, good sound bite or an attack ad.

CUSACK: Yeah, well, I mean the coverage is going to be about the president. And this midterm is about the president. Sometimes that's a good thing for the party and sometimes it's bad.

KURTZ: Even though this is a collection of local races, as we know?

CUSACK: Yes, that's true. But I didn't think Hannity has a good point that they have to make - they have to have a one-two, three, campaign message and the media should hold them accountable. And usually other parties in midterm elections have come up with a clear message. And that's gotten a lot of coverage. So, maybe Republicans are missing an opportunity to get that type of coverage because they don't have a clear message.

KURTZ: The point I raised at the top about all the coverage, deservedly so about ISIS and the - and the military response, is that helping the Republicans?

FERRECHIO: Well, the media coverage itself is -- I think, again, as you guys were talking about earlier in the show has been a little more negative for the Democrats. Because they are -- they push their big anti-war agenda. The media coverage that fully really helped their cause in 2006, 2008 with those big wave elections that brought in Democrats into the House and the Senate. So, now I think Republicans have an opportunity through the media to put forward their message that, look, and I've heard them say this on their way out the door this week that this, you know, puts Democrats in a tough spot. They campaigned against us and now they're voting in favor of it again. What are they going to tell their base? What is this going to say to their base who elected them to keep us out of another war? Puts them in an awkward position.

KURTZ: Well, there's a piece in "The New York Times" this week that says that the cultural war is essentially over, and the Democrats have won. The Dems usually is the GOP using social issues like same-sex marriage against the Republicans. Is that piece accurate?

CUSACK: I think it is accurate. Because remember, the mantra of Bill Clinton was it's the economy, stupid. Well, the economy is not helping Democrats this time around. You look at polls. Not a good thing. So, Democrats are saying, hey, we need to get our base out so they have -- they throw these red meat issues out to their base and it gets them coverage. And that provokes outrage.

KURTZ: But what about issues like abortion and gun control which can cut both ways? And gun control certainly I think helps the Republicans because they're more the party that doesn't want any restrictions and President Obama couldn't even get a vote on his effort after Newtown?

FERRECHIO: Well, "The New York Time" story, I thought was right on the money. I think one of the key quotes in the story was from the Southern Baptist Coalition representative, it was said that views are changing. And Republicans are needing to go along with that. I think that is absolutely true. And I think you're seeing that first out on the campaign trail. Look what happened earlier, you know, in these debates, you're seeing Democrats steer away from talk about abortion, gay marriage, which clearly is becoming more acceptable. If you look at poll numbers, so what's happening in the country, they know that these are bad issues. So, for Democrats to use it as the casuals, really smart. Because that - I know from covering campaigns and talking to voters, women tell me, I'm on the fence, but I don't like Republicans and how they treat women. It really does work.

KURTZ: All right. We need to get to our scores. Looking at the whole week in media coverage, who won the week?

CUSACK: I think Republicans won the week. Why? Because all the coverage was basically about the big votes on Capitol Hill and going after ISIS. Who does that help? Republicans. Democrats did have some good news in certain Senate races like in Kansas as well Iowa. But overall, Republicans, because of ISIS, they won the week.

KURTZ: Susan.

FERRECHIO: I look at it in terms of what the negative coverage was about. And of course, you talked about it earlier, the coverage of the infighting at the top of the Democratic National Committee with Debbie Wasserman Schultz. That story got a lot of attention, a lot of negative attention for Democrats. It shows they're really - they are having a problem at the helm. That's not good. And, of course, there was a Biden gaffe. You know, he does it all the time, takes up a lot of room in the media, though, where everybody is talking about .

KURTZ: Vice President had a number .

FERRECHIO: He is a vice president, right.

KURTZ: All right. So you say that Republicans, as well?

FERRECHIO: Absolutely.

KURTZ: All right. Interesting "New York Times" story this morning saying Democrats are trying to use a Social Security issue to their advantage. I haven't seen any media coverage of that so they're paying in their ads to do that. Bob Cusack, Susan Ferrechio, thanks very much for joining us.

After the break, Meredith Vieira with a very moving story of being abused by her boyfriend. You've got to see this. And CNN challenges the actress who was handcuffed by police for kissing her boyfriend. Our Video Verdict is up next.


KURTZ: Time now for a Video Verdict, the footage of Ray Rice decking (ph) his fianc,e has prompted some female anchors to speak out. One of the most moving accounts came from a new daytime host Meredith Vieira.


MEREDITH VIEIRA, "MEREDITH VIEIRA SHOW" HOST: I loved this guy. It started out with we would have a fight, and he just sort of grabbed my arm. And I, you know, I didn't think a lot about it and then it turned into pushing me against the wall and then it went beyond that to actually taking his hand and grabbing my face and saying I could ruin your career if I wanted to and no one would want you. I was scared of him and scared if I tried to leave something worse could happen to me. Part of it was guilt because every time we would have a fight he would then start crying and say I promise I won't do it again and I would feel like maybe I contributed somehow to this. And then it was the night that we shared apartment, and he threw me into a shower naked in scalding water and then he threw me outside into the hallway - we lived in apartment building, and I hid in the stairwell for two hours until he came again crying. So I promised I won't do this again.


KURTZ: This was absolutely gripping and I think for someone as successful as Meredith Vieira to tell such a gripping story about her own past, really sends a powerful message that this happens to many, many women who never make the headlines or not well known or are not actresses or movie stars or television journalists. And I thought it was just a powerful television moment which was why we let that run a little longer than we usually do.

Now, actress Daniele Watts was handcuffed by L.A. police last week after kissing her boyfriend in the car and complain that the cops thought she might be a prostitute. But CNN's Michaela Pereira took a skeptical approach asking why she just didn't comply with the request to show her identification.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody called the police saying there was lewd acts in the car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no lewd acts happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't matter, I have to I.D. you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not doing anything.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And I think some people might not understand why you - you wouldn't just easily give them your I.D. and let them carry on their way and you on yours.

DANIELE WATTS, ACTRESS: I think that the country that calls itself the land of the free and the home of the brave, if I am within my amendment rights, my constitutional rights to say no, unless you are charging me with a crime, I will not be giving you my I.D.


KURTZ: Now, I had the same reaction as everybody else initially when I heard about this. Seriously, the cops handcuffed her for showing some affection to her boyfriend? But I want to congratulate Michaela Pereira because she was skeptical. She said why didn't you give your I.D.? She asked her again and again. And that's what a journalist should do and not just go with the easy story line.

Still to come, your top tweets, allegations of plagiarism at CNN and how television dealt with Rihanna giving the middle finger to CBS.


KURTZ: In our press picks, this media fail. Fareed Zakaria has been accused of plagiarism again. Two years ago the CNN host and "Time" magazine contributor apologized for what he called a serious lapse and terrible mistakes for similarities between piece he wrote and "The New Yorker" essay. Now a website called Our Bad Media has made new allegations, some are minor, but this one is striking that on his CNN program in 2011, Zakaria ripped off language from a Dutch documentary on the death of a Russian whistleblower.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the 16th of November 2009, a Russian lawyer died in a Moscow pretrial detention center.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: On the 16 of November 2009 a Russian lawyer died in a Moscow detention center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name was Sergei Magnitsky.

ZAKARIA: His name was Sergei Magnitsky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His death fueled outrage among politicians and world leaders, and in the streets of Moscow.

ZAKARIA: Magnitsky's death fueled outrage on the streets of Moscow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sergei Magnitsky is arrested after he uncovers the largest tax fraud in Russian history.

ZAKARIA: His only crime was to uncover the largest tax fraud in Russian history.


KURTZ: Now, CNN said a month ago when this group made some earlier allegations that it has the highest confidence in the excellence and integrity of Zakaria's work. Zakaria said then, quote, these are all facts, not someone else's writing or opinions or expressions. Fareed is a smart journalist with his own ideas but he shouldn't be lifting anyone's language.

Time now for your top tweets. Is the media blitz against the NFL out of control or shining a spotlight on abuse? Julia Marie, "How about they are writing about what they think will get clicks? It's a sex, violence sports story." Jaystow. "Gee, could it be the media is on another mob style witch hunt where they'll burn successful businesses at the stake?" John Steigerwald, "The media story you should be doing is how the media is focusing on the wrong target." Goodell does the owner's bidding." Yeah, he gets 44 million a year. Terry Sieving, "These things have been going on in pro college sports for a long time. Media and sports both guilty of turning a blind eye."

Well, finally, Rihanna is famous for many things, one of them is getting beat up by her boyfriend Chris Brown. So during the Ray Rice uproar, CBS Sports yanked her from an NFL game only to ask permission to use her song again this week. We know how thanks to Mediaite some anchors reading Rihanna's obscene tweets to CBS. I'll caution that there are a couple of bad initials here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This morning Rihanna told the network to, well F off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CBS, you pulled my song last week. Now you want to slide it back in this Thursday? No bleep you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, you want to slide it back in this Thursday? Bleep you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, bleep you. Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she tweeted CBS, "You pulled my songs last week, now you want to slide it back in this Thursday? No. F you."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Bleep you. Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this.


KURTZ: WTF, I guess bleep is becoming an increasingly common word on television. That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you like our Facebook page where we post original content every week, response to your questions. We put videos up there as well. We are back here next Sunday 11 and 5 Eastern. I hope you'll join us for the latest buzz.

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