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Media Buzz

Crisis coverage converges; are the midterms on mute?

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," October 12, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Welcome to "MediaBuzz." We'll have an in-depth conversation with Bill O'Reilly coming up on all things media. We're also awaiting a CDC news conference in Atlanta probably pegged to the latest news about a second confirmed case of Ebola, this one involving a Dallas health care worker.

We begin with the ISIS terrorists making progress again, the Secret Service scandal taking a troubling turn. Just about every headline is negative for the White House these days, especially the intense and sometimes breathless coverage of Ebola.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We begin in Dallas, where there are new worries today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On our broadcast tonight, Ebola death in this country.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: With African countries in chaos, the U.S. gets thrown into the front line in the Ebola fight.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We begin tonight with the Ebola crisis. If there were ever any doubts that this is the world's problem, not just West Africa's problem, those doubts should be put to rest.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS: You know what? I'm feeling a little sick myself. But it's not Ebola. I'm just sick of a government that I'm paying for telling me not to worry and just trust them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And just this morning, as I mentioned, authorities confirming a second case involving a Dallas health care worker who helped treat the first Ebola victim.

Joining us now, to examine the coverage, Sharyl Attkisson, former CBS News correspondent and author of the forthcoming book, "Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama's Washington." Amy Holmes, who anchors the Hot List for The Blaze, and Bill Press, the host of the radio show "The Bill Press Show." Sharyl, has the Ebola coverage gotten overheated and is it fair for the press to blame the president?

SHARYL ATTKISSON, FORMER CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think according to my sources and experts, I can only speak for myself, that it's hard to overstate the concern that's out there, not talking about what's being said by public health officials publicly, but what people are saying behind the scenes, to me at least. The concern out there about the global condition and about what may be ahead for the United States. Yes, there's a careful balance that the press must strike to be factual, but --

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Let me interrupt you. We do have to go to Atlanta. The CDC holding a news conference at Centers for Disease Control right now.

(CDC PRESS CONFERENCE)

KURTZ: CDC Director Tom Frieden briefing reporters in Atlanta on this second confirmed case of Ebola in the United States. And before we went to the news conference, Sharyl Attkisson, you were saying your own research indicates Ebola could get a lot worse. Isn't there a fine line between the media covering these developments and trying to anticipate what's around the road, and spreading fear?

ATTKISSON: Absolutely. It's a difficult balance. But the stakes are so high. The media plays an extremely important role in this case to take what the government is telling us instead of face value and examining the contradictions. Gee, it's so hard to get? Maybe it's not that hard to get. We're doing everything to stop it. Well, we're not going to stop incoming patients that could further infect us. And the media's job is to dissect that and bring truth and make sure there is reality checks to this information.

KURTZ: Amy Holmes.

AMY HOLMES, THE BLAZE: That's exactly right, Sharyl. Here we have a medical professional, someone who was trained in treating patients with infectious disease. And that person contracted this disease. Meanwhile, we have the president of the United States saying, don't worry about it. You can't get it sitting next to someone on the bus. Well, yes, you can. If that person coughs on you, possibly spreads their bodily fluids on you in some way. We're getting a lot of contradictory statements from our politicians, and I think the press's job is to dissect that and get to the truth.

We have this press conference here where I'm listening to this man being called patient index. His name was Thomas Eric Duncan. He died of Ebola. He lied about coming into the United States. We are not stopping flights from Ebola zones for whatever reason. We have a press conference in Texas, where our own politicians are telling us, well, we can't stop those flights because it's -- it's ridiculous.

KURTZ: I want to move on. It's interesting to me Amy brought up so quickly President Obama and his previous statements. I want you to talk about the coverage and also want you to talk about whether some of this is being cast in partisan terms.

BILL PRESS, BILL PRESS SHOW: 100,000 people died of AIDS before Ronald Reagan mentioned the word. I do not blame Ronald Reagan on AIDS, and I think blaming President Obama for anything with Ebola is just purely political partisan, and is just out of place.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: -- media criticism, at the time of President Reagan for appearing to move slowly on AIDS. So why is it not fair at all? CDC is a part of the Obama administration.

PRESS: It was partisan then, it's partisan now. All I'm saying keep politics out of it. I'd like to talk about the media, because I think the media has done a public disservice in many ways and a public service on this Ebola issue. It is damn serious and we should be taking it seriously.

I think the disservice has been -- three months ago, I saw the headline, we all did, panic. And that was one case, perhaps, in New York City. Remember that way back? It was panic. There was no need for panic then. I don't think there's any need for panic now.

But I have to say, the whole theme here is trust us, trust the government. How can you trust them when this hospital let this guy go? That was one breach in protocol. And now another breach in protocol and a health worker gets the disease. So while they're telling us to trust them, it's hard to do.

KURTZ: Let me put up on the screen yesterday's New York Daily News cover which said "Ebola scare in Brooklyn." This was a kid who some people thought would have the virus. He didn't. And that kind of thing, Sharyl, makes me think that we have a kind of a hair trigger on anything now having to do with Ebola.

ATTKISSON: And this is such an important case. You can understand the reaction. But we're probably going to swing, as human nature does, from false alarms to then getting perhaps complacent, to another possible case, back this up again, there's sort of a cycle that goes. Yes, the media needs to strike a balance but keep bringing that information. This is an extremely important and dangerous things happening.

KURTZ: Bill Press says this resolves in part around trust in government. So that would seem to support your point, that the media ought to focus on what the Obama administration is or is not doing successfully. Obviously you can't stop this around the world, but you can try to protect people within our borders, and then maybe it's not so partisan.

HOLMES: Bill, it's not a partisan criticism of President Obama to say you're contradicting your own health officials when you're trying to reassure the public. And at the same time, sending 3,000 U.S. troops into Liberia. Again, we're getting contradictory information there. Whether or not they're going to have contact with locals. Some Pentagon officials say yes, and others say no.

KURTZ: We're coming up on a hard break, one sentence.

PRESS: I just have to say, I'm glad we're sending 3,000 troops to Liberia, to Guinea and to Sierra Leone to help stop the spread of disease in those countries. It's a humanitarian mission. It's the United States at its best.

KURTZ: I have to cut you off. More "MediaBuzz" in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Gay marriage became legal in seven more states this week after Supreme Court declined to hear a series of appeals. And what really struck me, Sharyl Attkisson, is that although this was certainly treated as a news story, conservative commentators who have been on the other side of this issue, most of them didn't have anything to say. There wasn't much talk about it among conservative pundits on Fox. I'm wondering if you think that the mainstream coverage has also been kind of sympathetic to the whole notion of same-sex marriage.

ATTKISSON: Absolutely. There are certain key issues that the news media covers that are in general kind of one-sided. You will see one side covered very well, the sympathetic characters, the people who are loving couples who are being discriminated against and facing these challenges. You don't see many sympathetic characters portrayed on the other side, which would be rational religious minds that disagree with the philosophy. That viewpoint has successfully been villainized by a campaign that I think has made the debate over gay marriage in the United States effectively dead. It's been successful. I think conservatives are giving up that battle.

KURTZ: So public opinion has clearly shifted, but you're saying that the people who long supported traditional marriage between a man and a woman are being demonized, and are the media part of that campaign? Are they being used?

ATTKISSON: Well, I think they're part of it, maybe not in a concerted, orchestrated way, but just in the sense of how they feel and the images they like to portray. I don't think a lot of minds have necessarily been changed. There are religious Christians, religious Muslims, who believe at their heart that heterosexual (sic) behavior is wrong. They still believe that, but they are not going to voice those oppositions as freely as they might have.

KURTZ: After the Supreme Court acted, Amy, I went on a whole panoply of conservative websites and didn't see much on this.

HOLMES: You didn't. And in fact, conservatives probably wrote more about Gwyneth Paltrow introducing President Obama than they did about gay marriage.

KURTZ: More clicks.

HOLMES: Yes. I looked, of course, because I'm a conservative, on conservative websites, and I also didn't see the legal dissection of the Supreme Court declining to hear, you know, these appeals court cases.

I think part of it is that the media likes to follow on controversy, and Republicans are not kicking up a lot of controversy over this issue. We are in a campaign election year with the midterms, you know, a month away. And I don't think that Republicans want to focus on gay marriage, which is very different from ten years ago when --

KURTZ: But let's remind people, Bill, of 10 years ago, when President Bush ran for re-election on a platform that included a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Public opinion shift here has been remarkable and I guess we're seeing that reflected in the coverage.

PRESS: There were 11 state initiatives on the ballot in 2004. Anti-same- sex marriage. Every one of them passed. It's stunning. We have not seen in our lifetime any movement on the right or the left move this fast in terms of public opinion.

But I have to say, I know the media saluted this. And I also was amused by crickets on the right-hand side, if you will. But I thought this was a cowardly decision on the part of the Supreme Court. And the only person that I saw get that right was Dahlia Lithwick on Slate, because the court basically would refuse to take the entire case. They just refused to hear five because they said they kind of want to wait until public opinion catches up. And then they'll take another case and outlaw -- approve same- sex marriage in all 50 states. I think Dahlia is right. It's not the court's decision to wait for public opinion to catch up. It's their thing to do the right thing, and they didn't.

KURTZ: Well, the stories that I see, understandably all have images of happy couples getting married or saying they're going to get married. And I think over time, as this has become legal in more states, clearly public opinion, particularly among younger folks, have shifted, and the media coverage, I agree with you, has been sympathetic to it as a civil rights battle.

ATTKISSON: There was, as I said, an orchestrated campaign, perfectly legal, nothing wrong with it. But there was a lobbying effort to make sure that the news media as well as the popular media and entertainment media began to portray a lot of positive images in the past couple of years of gay and lesbian couples leading normal lives and happy lives like everybody else.

KURTZ: You know, in the time remaining, I wanted to touch on a story that's gotten so much attention this week. That is Leon Panetta's book, the former Pentagon chief criticizing President Obama for acting like a law professor and not a leader on foreign policy. Why do you think, Bill, that the media have, in addition to the fact that Panetta has been out there flogging it on every single channel, had to be giving so much attention to this book?

PRESS: Well, because of who Leon Panetta is. He's a man with wide experience under two or three presidents. Big, big jobs. He's a Democrat. He had two of the biggest jobs under President Obama. When he comes out and criticizes, rightly or wrongly, President Obama for policy decisions made and for his style of governing, at this time, that's going to make a lot of news.

KURTZ: And Amy, a lot of journalists have known Panetta since his days as a congressman, since his days in the Clinton White House, and he has a lot of credibility, and I think that's part of the equation here, as well.

HOLMES: Certainly he does. He has a long track record with Washington, D.C. journalists, but he is also not the first cabinet member to come out with a memoir piling on the president. We had Robert Gates, we had Hillary Clinton, now we have Leon Panetta.

PRESS: Tim Geithner.

HOLMES: Tim Geithner. And now we have also public opinion polling that is showing that the majority of Americans don't have faith in this president. So his criticisms are basically sort of piling on the momentum.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Let me play a sound bite for you. I've been struck by the degree to which almost no one asked this question. Charlie Rose did raise it in his interview with Panetta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE ROSE: There are those who say, you know, he appointed you to two of the highest positions that this country has to offer. Just wait until he's out of office before criticizing.

LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: You know what? It's exactly because I am very loyal to this president, because I want him to succeed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ATTKISSON: You look at this and you wonder, is it all coincidental timing? If you talk about Panetta, Hillary Clinton's book, Robert Gates and other things, some of this information would have been helpful perhaps to know some years ago. But, yes, there could be some election politics at play here.

KURTZ: Right. If it's such an act of conscience, why do some of these people wait until they have a book contract? All right. Sharyl Attkisson, Bill Press, Amy Holmes, thanks for joining us. Coming up, Mr. Bill O'Reilly in the hot seat. Does he take heat when he says something nice about the president?

And later, the midterm elections still about Barack Obama. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

KURTZ: Anyone who watches "The Factor" knows that Bill O'Reilly has strong opinions about the media. And what better subject for this program. Plus he's got a new best-selling book out, "Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General." I sat down with him in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Bill O'Reilly, welcome.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: Thank you, Howie.

KURTZ: I finally got you to admit last week that the press is now covering President Obama aggressively. But you said, oh, their hearts aren't in it. If they're not high-fiving each other, it doesn't count?

O'REILLY: Does it count? I guess it counts that we're actually getting the news reported after six years. That's an improvement. But what I meant was that they're -- the press is not in business any more to give the folks information. That's not what they do. They are in business to promote a certain agenda. And that is really harming the nation. That's the point I was trying to make.

KURTZ: Wait a second. If journalists are digging into the Secret Service, the VA, problems with Obamacare, how is that pushing an agenda? Isn't that old fashioned reporting?

O'REILLY: If you look at Sharyl Attkisson's experience at CBS News, which I think is the best of them these days on the networks, she couldn't get her stories on the air.

KURTZ: That's true.

O'REILLY: And she had to leave that organization. So now they are playing a little catchup because the polls say President Obama is in disfavor? Yes, they are.

KURTZ: It's easier because the president is down in the polls.

O'REILLY: Easier for them.

KURTZ: For the press to pile on and for news organizations to greenlight these stories, you're saying?

O'REILLY: Yes. But they should have been doing that -- look, the press's role in America is very clear. What the founding fathers wanted, gave us constitutional protections to keep an eye on all the powerful people, not to pick and choose who they want to get, all right? And that certainly hasn't been done, I'd say, in the last decade.

KURTZ: What do you think of these liberals at MSNBC who were all over George Bush's war and now seem to be falling in line behind Obama's war?

O'REILLY: Well, it was interesting to see after my interview with Leon Panetta how they spun that over there. They basically said, oh, every administration has people who disagree. And, you know, I mean, it was -- it was humorous.

But let's be honest, MSNBC's ratings cannot really get much lower. They're scratching, which means no one is watching them during the day and very, very few at night. It's not a news organization. All right? It's a cable channel that promotes left wing causes, not a news organization.

What I am amazed at is that NBC just doesn't pull the plug. Once you fall behind CNN, which they have, CNN is now beating them, where is there to go on this thing? They're not going to be successful. They've been on the air 18 years. It's not going happen. So why doesn't NBC, with all its power and resources, use that cable network for something different and better? It's just amazing to me.

KURTZ: Let's talk about Fox. You had a conservative guest on recently and you said, don't give me the Obama bashing, give me the facts. I've heard the Obama bashing a million times. Are there conservative commentators, not just at Fox but elsewhere, that are never, ever going to say anything nice about President Obama?

O'REILLY: Yes. And you won't see them on the Factor because it is boring. It is boring to me.

KURTZ: It's predictable.

O'REILLY: Yes. We know you don't like the president. Advance whatever the story it is we're talking about. Advance it. Bring some facts in. Give me a perspective, give me something different. Don't say boots on the ground 45 times. I'm tired of it. What we try to do here is mix, as you know, liberals and conservatives. If you tally up the guests on the Factor for the week, it's pretty much even. And I try to be a guy who challenges everybody, although I am a traditional man, and I do believe that America's finest days are not now. And I'd like to get back to that.

KURTZ: When you have something positive to say about the president, do you get pushback from the audience?

O'REILLY: No. I wouldn't say -- our ratings don't reflect that. There's no -- you know, I'll get a -- but I get hostile mail about everything I do.

(CROSSTALK)

O'REILLY: But there are people who don't like Barack Obama. And if you say something nice about him, then you're a sellout or a liberal or this and that. But there are other people on the left who are just as insane. And those people are called zealots. That's what they're called.

O'REILLY: Do you see a budding press romance with Hillary, despite the fact that she's, as you know, had testy relations with the fourth estate going back to the Clinton White House when she was first lady?

O'REILLY: I don't think the press is going to be as jazzed about Hillary Clinton running for president as they were about Barack Obama. But I surely think the mainstream national media will support her effort rather than a Republican, no matter who that is. Will it be as pronounced as the Obama situation? No. By it will be intense. Hillary is going to get a big boost from the press.

KURTZ: You recently talked about the plunge in public confidence in the news business, and it's been quite dramatic. You said you think a major reason is the nastiness and the meanness. But you go after loons and pinheads? Do you contribute to that in any way?

O'REILLY: Well, number one, pinhead is a term of endearment that I've used on myself, OK? If you're not thinking clearly, you are a pinhead. We try not to do personal attacks here, I think you know that. We've been on the air 18, in our 19th season now. I'm not a smear merchant. I don't go after people on a personal level. I will go after you hard if I disagree with you on policy or if I think your thinking is harming children or something like that. But there's a difference between that and this personal attack smear machine.

Let's take Leon Panetta. I mean, now he's a traitor, he's a disgraceful human being, just because he's telling the truth, as he sees it. That's a personal attack. If you want to disagree with Panetta, disagree with what he's saying.

KURTZ: Do you think you sometimes go too far in your language?

O'REILLY: Look, nobody is perfect. But our policy at the Factor is not to do that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: More O'Reilly in a moment, including whether he finally feels accepted by the mainstream media he loves to bash.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: More now from my one-on-one with Bill O'Reilly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: You've written "Killing Lincoln," "Killing Kennedy," "Killing Jesus" and now the best seller, "Killing Patton." What is this obsession with death?

O'REILLY: It's a catchy title. We're trying to bring history to people who don't particularly like history. We're succeeding. All of these books are 2 million sellers plus. Patton may be the biggest of them all.

KURTZ: You once taught high school. Is this kind of an extension of --

O'REILLY: It is. I always liked history. I liked the action. I was a high school history teacher. But what we've done here is that the history industry is dry and it's 800 pages and you can't get through it. Robert Caro is a brilliant man. How many people are going to read his books on LBJ? All right? I'm not a brilliant man, but I understand what happens and how to tell a story. So our history books are like thrillers. And so people can enjoy them no matter what. You don't have to be a history fanatic, and you can learn a lot in the process. So everybody wins.

KURTZ: Were you drawn to Patton as a subject in part because he did not get along with President Truman or the echoes of the battles he had in World War II in today's landscape?

O'REILLY: I liked Patton as the subject of a book because everything was swirling around him. Hitler, Stalin, Eisenhower, FDR, Truman, everything swirling around Patton. Patton was the guy stirring the last five months of the World War II in Europe. The worst time in civilization's history, the most brutal time on this planet, and he was right there in everything. And then the fact that he died mysteriously just adds to the narrative. So it was a perfect subject to me.

KURTZ: Did you start out with the notion that Patton, perhaps, did not die as advertised, because he happened to be a car accident victim and there might have been an assassination plot by Stalin, or did you come to that as you started digging into it?

O'REILLY: We knew there were questions about Patton's death. What we do, Martin Dugard do what we call investigative history. We say, okay, there are questions about JFK's death. So let's look at those questions, and we did. We debunked all the conspiracy theories in "Killing Kennedy." So I'm not a conspiratorialist. We did the same thing with Patton. There are questions about his death. Let's take a look. And what we found is pretty harrowing.

KURTZ: You were able to talk about this book on Letterman, on Stephanopoulos, on Katie, you were making the rounds. Will you now drop the argument that you're just this lonely outsider who is not accepted by the mainstream media?

O'REILLY: Well, it's not about our being accepted. It's about success. And I bring ratings to those shows. So when I go on Letterman or I go on the morning shows, their ratings go up. That's why they have me on.

KURTZ: Do you think there's been a change?

O'REILLY: Yes, I think over the -- look, at first, they tried to destroy me, they being the mainstream media. They couldn't. They failed. So now I've been here 18 years, so they've given that up.

KURTZ: Not going anywhere.

O'REILLY: Right. So I can be of benefit to them, because their ratings will go up. I think we do interesting things, so the segments are good. They do have me in. But everyone says, oh, O'Reilly, you're a best seller because you're on TV. You have got to have the product. You have a bad book and you're on TV, nobody is going to buy that book, all right? And I can give you names, I'm not going to be mean, but I can give you legion of people who have been on TV and had books and nobody bought them. You got to have a good book.

KURTZ: Got to have word-of-mouth.

O'REILLY: You've got to have it.

KURTZ: You love to take whacks at Jon Stewart, and he of course enjoys beating up on you and beating up on Fox, and whenever I've talked to Jon Stewart in other interviews, he often retreats to, well, I'm just a guy with a comedy show, but at the same time, I think he's an important social critic. So is he trying to have it both ways?

O'REILLY: No. I think you're overestimating his importance.

KURTZ: Why is that?

O'REILLY: I'll be on Stewart next week.

(LAUGHTER)

O'REILLY: I think Stewart is a very, very smart man, who is marketing himself to an extremely liberal audience, a young liberal audience. And he's going to stay in that envelope, so he's successful and Comedy Central makes money. Does he believe everything he says? No. Is he a comedian primarily? Yes. Are you a pinhead if you believe what he says? Absolutely, you are.

KURTZ: There's that pinhead word again.

O'REILLY: Yes. And I bring that into his audience. The last time I was on, I called them all stoned slackers. Because that's a large part of his audience. They're out in the ozone. But I don't -- I don't diminish him as a cultural figure. He is not a journalist figure, but culturally, he's very important.

KURTZ: Well, he can't be totally inflating his importance or you wouldn't be going on his show.

O'REILLY: I go on the show just to amuse myself, just to smack him around here and there, you know? Because who else is going to do that but me? No one. Most people are intimidated by him. So give him a little whack here, a little whack there. So it's more amusing than anything else. His audience, they're not likely to buy my book, okay? But we get a segment on the Factor from it, so there is a lot of cross-promotion, and it works.

KURTZ: An awesome responsibility. Bill O'Reilly, thank you very much.

O'REILLY: All right, Howie, thanks for having me in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Just to amuse myself. After the break, with the control of the Senate at stake, why isn't there more interest in the midterms?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Time to talk about the midterms. Joining us now, Bob Cusack, editor in chief of The Hill, and Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent for the Washington Examiner.

Susan, I've never seen a midterm election where on the national level, so few people seem to be paying attention.

SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I think if you look at the tracking over the years, I'm talking over tens, decades, midterms always track lower than the election where the president runs. Fewer people are paying attention. That's not new. What's new this time is it's dropped off so much, particularly from the 2010 election, where everybody was so much more interested and enthusiastic. It certainly paid off for Republicans. What ultimately matters is people who vote are probably on track for about average last election, was still about average, even though we had all that enthusiasm. Really wasn't outside the scale of average turnout.

KURTZ: I think it's just kind of almost been blown off the radar screen by these other big stories, ISIS, Secret Service, Ebola. Of course, Pew survey says only 15 percent of people say they're following the election closely compared to 36 percent for Ebola.

BOB CUSACK, THE HILL EDITOR IN CHIEF: I think that's part of the distaste for Washington, and these stories are more interesting, they have fear. Can I get Ebola? And ISIS, the administration missteps on it have gotten a lot of attention, and that does hurt Democrats, but it's clearly not on the radar.

KURTZ: One national -- one story got a lot of national attention was Alison Lundergan Grimes running against Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, asked by the Louisville Courier-Journal, did you vote for Barack Obama? She gives this long answer and kind of refuses to answer the question.

FERRECHIO: I think this highlights the enduring importance of editorial boards. Everybody says, let's write them off now, social media out there, all the opinions, what do we need them for? Look it, here's a shining example where there they're questioning her, making her answer, and they are actually putting it out on -- they're using social media to show the importance of the editorial board.

KURTZ: Good media answer. And also in terms of the focus on President Obama, a lot of people replayed that sound bite where he said I'm not on the ballot but my policies are on the ballot. Of course that's not necessarily how Democrats want to frame this election.

CUSACK: No, that's right. This is what Republicans wanted. They did ads immediately on it. So overall, I think it was a rough week for Democrats.

KURTZ: Ok, well, if you're going to score this, you would say who won the media week?

CUSACK: I would say Republicans, because as you talked about earlier, Leon Panetta just dominated the news cycle. And that really played into the GOP criticisms.

FERRECHIO: When have the Democrats have had a good week lately? It's been every week, and a lot of it is about the midterms--

KURTZ: I don't want to bury the lead. You were saying Republicans won the media week?

FERRECHIO: I think they have. They have consistently won it. Here we are leading up to some important midterms, the polls are looking much more in their favor. That has dominated the news cycle, in addition to the negative press about Democrats and the Obama White House. Not a good week for Democrats.

KURTZ: Just over three weeks to go. I think the interest will pick up as we get closer to election day. Bob Cusack, Susan Ferrechio, thanks for stopping by. When we come back, a new way for you to be part of "MediaBuzz."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Keith Olbermann used to hammer on the Monica Lewinsky scandal night after night during his first stint as an MSNBC host. Well, according to latest document dump from the Clinton library, Olbermann apologized to President Clinton, for quote "whatever part I may have played in perpetuating this ceaseless coverage. I'll be heading back to my previous career in sports as quickly as possible." Which he did, after publicly expressing remorse.

Well, that's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for watching. By the way, we just launched a weekly Google hangout, where you can chat with me about various media issues online. It was a lot of fun. It was enlightening to hear from you. If you'd like to join, shoot us a note at mediabuzzfoxnews@gmail.com. Also I hope you'll go on our Facebook page and give us a like. We post a lot of original content there.

We are back here next Sunday 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern with the latest buzz.

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